10 Most Vegan Countries (I Also Included Traditional Vegan and Vegetarian Dishes and Their Ingredients)

Vegan countries attract attention. Because vegan dishes are part of everyday life. Because that’s normal to go to a restaurant and see vegan food all over the place. Because all kinds of rice, potatoes, legumes, and veggie meals are truly loved and enjoyed since birth.

If you are planning to travel to any of these countries you should not have a problem finding something vegan to eat for yourself. It also implies that staying raw should be more or less possible as well.

I’ll list countries according to the number of estimated vegans and vegetarians; in decreasing order.

1. India

Chana masala (chickpea dish; vegan). Ingredients: chickpeas, onion, chopped tomatoes, coriander seed, garlic, chillies, ginger, dried mango powder, crushed pomegranate seed, garam masala spice.

The country of elephants and songs on average has the greatest number of vegans and vegetarians. At the very least about 20% of Indian population is vegetarian.

East Indians eat about five times less meat than Americans.

Although many vegetarians love their milk and ghee, some are completely vegan.

Religion is a primary reason why there are so many vegans and vegetarians in India.

2. Italy

Panzanella (salad; vegan). Ingredients: soaked & squeezed stale bread, tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, onions, basil

This surprises me. Catholicism definitely is okay with steaks and omelette. Why then? The answer hold ingenious Italian chefs. They can make vegetarian and vegan pizzas, risottos, and desserts taste so marvelous that these dishes are available nearly in every restaurant and cafe. Being vegan is convenient in Italy, so I guess that’s why there are many vegans in this country.

3. Ethiopia

Injera (bread; vegan). Ingredients: teff flour, water

Ethiopia (and Eritrea) is quite different from the rest of Africa. The difference lies in their religion. Ethiopians (and Eritreans) follow the same religion as Russia and Eastern Europe – Orthodox Christianity.

There is quite a bit of fasting time in Orthodoxy (I know this first-hand). For example, every Wednesday and Friday. Plus there are four fasts that last from 1-6 weeks. On selected fasting days fish is allowed though.

Injera (on the picture above) from my favorite teff grain is eaten several times per day in this African region. Here is how to make an easy raw teff porridge. To learn more about injera and teff check this post I wrote a few years ago.

4. Libya

Kara’a (dip; vegan). Ingredients: chopped pumpkin, caraway seed, cumin seed, garlic cloves, red chili, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil

Libya saw many invasions and influences in its past. But at the same time it also saw many brilliant cuisines and chefs. Today, like in Ethiopia and Eritrea, majority of Libyans are Orthodox Christians. Which, again, means being vegan on Wednesdays, Fridays, and on certain weeks of the year. Actually, Orthodox Christianity roughly has over 200 days of fasting days!

You may be wondering if Orthodoxy indirectly implies veganism then why Russia is not on this list? Even though over 7o% of Russian declare themselves Orthodox Christians? Well, because the grass is never green enough in your own backyard. Meaning although many Russians generally aware that fasts exist and on certain days they actually ‘supposed’ to be eating only kasha and borscht they still eat shashlik and potato and egg salad. Simple as that. (Although churches are pretty full…)

5. Turkey

Baklava (dessert; vegetarian). Ingredients: filo dough (based on wheat), butter, sugar, lemon juice, pistachios (or walnuts)

Turkey’s cuisine is quite sophisticated. And somewhat unlimited. For example, there are hundreds of ways to prepare an eggplant. Turkish climate is very mild and the soil is fertile, so abundance of various edible plant species always found their ways onto the plates of Turks.

To sum up

That’s it for today. Other five I’ll go through in this post.

Usually you won’t see the above countries on lists of the most healthiest nations. There are several reasons behind that:

  • First, ‘vegan’ is not necessary a synonym of ‘healthy’ (hint: baklava-type dishes are not healthier than fried eggs)
  • Second, standard of living in some of these countries is low to medium
  • Third, in some of these countries armed conflicts happen from time to time
  • Fourth, census and bad effects of globalization

Main references:

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