People have just begun wrapping their heads around the idea of vegetarianism. Less frequently do you encounter individuals who mistaken fish as a vegetarian option, and more often can you find restaurants that are offer something other than veggie burgers as a meat-free alternative. But veganism, that special diet that abstains from all animal products, is a way of eating that many cultures just can't compute.
Being vegan in the U.S. alone can have its challenges. Surprisingly, few people know that cake is off limits -- eggs AND butter people -- and even fewer are aware of the fact that honey is not a part of the vegan diet. But the U.S. is one of the more vegan-friendly countries in the world, with the national grocery store of Whole Foods selling vegan products and smaller vegan-friendly health food stores dotting the urban landscapes. This is NOT the case in many other countries. In some countries, the idea that one doesn't eat meat -- let alone butter -- is a lamentable fact. So it comes as no surprise that traveling as a vegan can be very challenging, and eating at restaurants while traveling damn near impossible.
While one can always find a way to eat vegan wherever they are, some countries make it harder than others. Without the use of a vegan passport, the global veggie-friendly restaurant locator website Happy Cow and the willingness to sustain solely on raw fruits and vegetables at some point, vegan travel would be a nightmare -- especially in these 13 countries (according to vegans abound):
If we've missed any vegan-impossible countries, please let us know in the comments below.
The French have butter, not blood, running through their veins. It's in the pastries, makes up sauces, and dresses the vegetables. If you say you're vegan while traveling through France, chances are someone will offer you a courgette quiche -- which will have eggs, cheese and butter in it. It just doesn't compute.
Eating red meat as an Argentinian is considered a god given right. When you explain that you don't partake, they'll not only wonder if you're okay but they'll genuinely feel bad for you.
Just take a look at the list of most popular dishes in the Philippines: lechón (whole roasted pig), longganisa (Philippine sausage), tapa (cured beef), torta (omelette), adobo (chicken and/or pork braised in garlic, vinegar, oil and soy sauce), kaldereta (meat in tomato sauce stew), mechado (larded beef in soy and tomato sauce), puchero (beef in bananas and tomato sauce), afritada (chicken and/or pork simmered in a peanut sauce), kare-kare (oxtail and vegetables cooked in peanut sauce), pinakbet (kabocha squash, eggplant, beans, okra, and tomato stew flavored with shrimp paste) crispy pata (deep-fried pig's leg), hamonado (pork sweetened in pineapple sauce), sinigang (meat or seafood in sour broth), pancit (noodles -- and you might, maybe, possibly be able to find them vegan), and lumpia (fresh or fried spring rolls usually stuffed with chicken and served with a sauce that's chicken or beef broth based -- though a few variations may be vegan friendly).
Animal products dominate Icelandic food. The most important parts of Icelandic cuisine are lamb, seafood and skyr -- a cultured dairy product. So, good luck.
Not even the chips are safe. These popular snacks are shrimp chips, made with tapioca flour, water and shrimp.
In Brazil, a popular type of restaurant -- the churrascaria -- is one where waiters walk around with huge hunks of meat for you to flag down so they can slice you off a piece. It is basically a vegan's worst nightmare.
Korea is a land known for its barbecue and seafood. You might think you can get by with vegetable bibimbap, but not so much. It's commonly served with an egg on top.
Just to give you an idea of how they feel about dairy: sour cream is served with just about everything.
Being a vegetarian in Mexico is totally do-able, especially if you don't mind filling up on fresh corn tortillas, cheese and salsas. But if you're a vegan, you'll quickly notice just how much Mexicans love their queso fresco (cheese) and crema (cream sauce). It's what is used when meat is absent in almost all situations
The average person in Germany will consume 134 lbs of meat a year and they make are more than 1500 different types of sausage.
Vegetarians have a hard time getting by in Cuba, where even the bread is made with lard. For vegans it becomes near impossible, unless you're happy living off of fresh fruit and juices.
Spain is significantly easier to eat vegan in than its neighboring country, France. At least olive oil, not butter, is used in most instances. Also, gazpacho. But, in most parts of Spain, chicken is considered "vegetarian" and so is fish. So good luck explaining that you can't eat a Tortilla Espanola because of the eggs.
Texas + Midwest Of The U.S.
Flickr: Howdy, I'm H. Michael Karshis
There's something that happens when you travel toward the middle of the United States: serious beef happens. Meat reigns supreme in this part of the country, and anything that strays from that is foreign. South Dakota once even had a billboard that read: "Vegetarians not welcome." Good luck, vegans!
CORRECTION:A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the "tortilla espagnola" as the "torta espagnola.