The most vegetarian-friendly countries in the world

If you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday and you’re a vegetarian, then we have good news for you. The Seychelles has been named the best place in the world for vegetarian travellers.

Vegetarian travellers can plan their journeys easier with the new Global Vegetarian Index — Shutterstock
Vegetarian travellers can plan their journeys easier with the new Global Vegetarian Index — Shutterstock

Vegetarians can often face difficulties when trying to feed themselves in distant countries. Even though the situation is improving rapidly, excluding meat from your diet, for whatever reason, is not equally celebrated around the globe.

That is why Oliver’s Travel came up with the new Global Vegetarian Index that can make the choice of next destination for vegetarian travellers a lot easier.

The researchers combined three factors that assess the overall vegetarian-friendliness of 183 countries around the globe. The first part reflects the total number of vegetarian restaurants in the country. To get the numbers, the team used the most extensive directory of vegetarian restaurants in the world, HappyCow.net, to find meat-free options in every location.

For the second factor, they calculated the number of vegetarian restaurants per capita, which underlines the popularity of such places among the local population and more importantly, their accessibility.

The third factor, the amount of meat eaten per capita annually, might seem a bit redundant. The task was to map the vegetarian-friendly options for travellers that don’t necessarily care about the customs of local people. However, it does speak a lot about the constitution and variety of dishes served in the location. It may, therefore, be of some relevance, but also has the potential to skew the findings slightly.

Oliver's Travels based the list on the number of vegetarian restaurants in the country, it's accessibility to the local population and on overall meat consumption — Shutterstock
Oliver’s Travels based the list on the number of vegetarian restaurants in the country, it’s accessibility to the local population and on overall meat consumption — Oliver’s Travels

 

From each of these factors, the researchers calculated a final score that evaluates the general vegetarian-friendliness of the country.

With the low meat consumption and endless options of meatless dishes, it is not surprising that countries from Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Singapore or Malaysia scored very high.

However, the absolute winner of this index is the small island group of the Seychelles. Its relatively tiny population has access to 117 vegetarian restaurants, which means there is one for every 810 people. Even their meat consumption is relatively low in comparison to other countries, with 35.6 kilograms per year.

For vegetarians that don’t want to spend time on long-haul flights, the complete list, which you can find here, features the highest-ranking countries on each continent.

North America’s number one is Belize, which ranks 13th on the global scale, and second is Canada. It offers a high number of vegetarian restaurants, but the amount of meat consumed per year pulls the country down to 18th position overall.

Seychelles aren't only a tropical paradise, the country is also the most vegetarian friendly in the world — Shutterstock
The Seychelles isn’t only a tropical paradise, the country is also the most vegetarian-friendly in the world — Shutterstock

A similar situation applies to the United States, which has the highest number of vegetarian restaurants in the world. But with 120kg per year, the Americans are also the world’s biggest meat consumers – that’s why they are 30th in the world.

111kg of meat per year is also a burden for Australia. Yet this doesn’t make life for vegetarians too hard as Australians are believed to have the highest percentage of vegetarians in their population, according to a study published in 2010.

The star of Europe is the United Kingdom, ranking 9th in the world, and the rising trend of vegetarianism is very apparent. The same study maps the ongoing growth of this lifestyle from 1967, and growth hasn’t stopped. Currently, the UK has 4,433 vegetarian restaurants, one per 15,000 people. Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden offer various options as well.

The most vegetarian-friendly country in Asia – and the second in the world – is Thailand, followed by Malaysia. Also, Bhutan is an interesting choice since its meat consumption is only 3kg per year per capita.

With plethora of meatless dishes, it is no surprise that Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries rank high in the list — Shutterstock vegetarian
With plethora of meatless dishes, it is no surprise that Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries rank high in the list — Shutterstock

In South America, you should head to Peru; in Oceania the Solomon Islands; and Africa – as we’ve already mentioned – has the winner, the Seychelles.

On the other hand, there are places where vegetarians will encounter nothing but ridicule. The least vegetarian-friendly countries according to the index are Kazakhstan, Central African Republic, Belarus and Kiribati, although the score might be influenced by the fact that the relevant data is not as accessible as in the countries with better infrastructure.