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Top vegan destinations that may surprise you

Isabel Putinja

Contributor

The number of people embracing a plant-based diet is growing and so is the proliferation of restaurants, cafés and businesses around the world catering to this cruelty-free lifestyle. International cities like London, New York and Berlin often make it to the top five in rankings of the most vegan-friendly cities. But there are other destinations that you may not have thought of that are also excellent choices for vegan travellers. Here are a few that may surprise you:

Bangkok

Thai food is prepared with plenty of veggies and fresh fruit like mango and papaya but vegetarians and vegans cringe at the fish sauce added to most dishes. However, vegans no longer have to fear the all-pervading fish sauce, Bangkok was recently rated #8 on a top ten of vegan-friendly destinations around the world by Happy Cow. This online directory of vegan and vegetarian restaurants and shops around the world lists 42 vegan restaurants in the Thai capital.

Among the top-rated vegan hotspots is Broccoli Revolution, whose cool urban vibe attracts locals and travellers alike, as well as its eclectic menu of Thai and Vietnamese dishes but also international favourites like mezze, guacamole and burgers. For dessert, there's Veganerie, a vegan bakery and ice cream shop with four locations in Bangkok, that also serves up light meals like burgers and wraps. A highlight at Barefoot Bangkok is its exquisite vegan cheese which you can learn to make yourself by joining their nut cheese masterclasses. Culinary enthusiasts looking to learn how to whip up vegan Thai dishes can sign up for cooking classes at May Kaidee, which happens to be one of Bangkok's first vegetarian restaurants.

Tel Aviv

Five percent of Israelis follow a vegan diet, with most living in progressive Tel Aviv where it's estimated that 1 in 20 residents is vegan. In a city where vegan has gone mainstream, plant-based travellers have plenty of choice. Just look for the vegan symbol on the doors of restaurants and cafés and you'll know you're in the right place.

Anastasia was the city's first vegan restaurant and is still wildly popular. Some say their vegan shakshuka (eggs poached in a tomatoey sauce) is the best in town and the cheese platter gets rave reviews. The Georgian-inspired dishes at Nanuchka underwent a plant-based transformation when its owner went vegan overnight. While the menu stayed the same, the animal-based ingredients were swapped with vegan alternatives. The hinkalli dumplings filled with mushrooms and truffles are favourites with diners, as are the imaruli hachapuri: pastry filled with spinach, vegan cheese and tofu. Other top vegan experiences to add to your list include vegan Ethiopian cuisine at Tenat, vegan shawarma at Vegetarian Hummus Levinsky, and South Indian street food at Dosa. A good way to explore the best of the Tel Aviv's many vegan-friendly gastronomic pickings is to join a vegan walking tour with Be Tel Aviv Tours.

Taipei

The Taiwanese capital is a fast-growing vegan destination, with 62 vegan restaurants and counting. You can sample some of Taipei's best vegan foods on the street: some typical vegan street foods include 'stinky' tofu, sweet potato balls, vegetable rolls or dumplings, and steamed buns filled with cabbage, bamboo shoots and mustard greens.

Rated the number one vegan restaurant in Taipei by users of Happy Cow is Vege Creek where diners can custom order their crowd-pleasing noodle bowls by choosing from a selection of vegetables, mock meats or tofu. For Japanese-style noodles, there's Hoshina for udon and soba noodle dishes, while dim sum fans should make a stop at Yang Shin. If it's Taiwanese fare you're looking for, head to Tai Wai or Taiwan Su for dumplings, fried rice and noodle soups. For those who can't live without kale and chia seeds, Plants serves up new-agey acai and macrobiotic bowls, raw cakes, smoothies, and yes, chia pudding. Finally, not to be outdone by other vegan hotspots, Taipei boasts four vegan bakeries: Viihotang, Green Bakery, Vegan Heaven and Hip Pun Japanese bakery, while iVegan is Taiwan's first and only vegan supermarket.

Warsaw

With 50 vegan restaurants, the Polish capital has many options for plant-based foodies and most are located within a square mile of its old town. Some of the highlights include the city's two vegan sushi restaurants: Edamame and Youmiko Vegan Sushi, popular with fans of Japanese cuisine who know that sushi is a lot more than just raw fish. Krowarzywa is a firm favourite with locals: this vegan burger chain has five outlets serving what has been voted Warsaw's best burger twice – yes, including competitors made of meat. Eating vegan doesn't mean missing out on Polish cuisine. At Lokal Vegan Bistro and Vege Bistro you can sample Polish delights like gołąbki (cabbage rolls), pierogi (stuffed dumplings) and schabowy (breaded cutlets). But there's more for lovers of all things plant-based: Evergreen and TerraVege are vegan supermarkets, Solvino Bio stocks organic vegan wines, and Ananas is the place to get cruelty-free footwear. Vegans run, don't walk to Warsaw!

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