Welcome vegans, desperate to find the answer to “how to find vegan restaurants near me”! And those weary folk dragging themselves through Veganuary (it gets better, I promise) and all of y’all lovely folk who have accidentally stumbled upon my little hub of plant-based goodness. In this post I’ll show you how I found vegan restaurants near me while travelling in many countries.
As a previously full-time traveling vegan it is really important to me that I find nutritious, delicious vegan food anywhere in the world. I’ve discovered places where it’s easy to be a vegan traveler, with the best vegan restaurants (Bali, holla) and places where it’s more difficult (Thailand, I’m looking at you).
You can either stumble around the world surviving on expensive airport apples and plain chips or you can get smart, find the best vegan restaurants and markets, and feast. “Fail to prepare and prepare to fail”, and all!
Learn from my mistakes and use the resources on this page to prepare an awesome vegan foodie trip no matter where you are in the world and no matter what your budget is.
So, without further ado here is how I would recommend finding great vegan food across the world (without desperately punching ‘vegan restaurants near me’ into Google after yet another hungry day.
1. Do Your (Vegan) Research
Research the country before you get there. I would recommend simply searching ‘Vegan XYZ food’, with XYZ being the name of the country you are visiting. This gives you a heads-up of what you can order from local restaurants without having to head to a vegan restaurant.
For example, in Thailand I knew that I could safely eat mango and sticky rice (for ever and ever, amen), in Sri Lanka I knew that I could go to town on lentil dhal and veggie fried rice, and in Bali the local Nasi Campur (rice with veggie and tofu/tempeh) was on the cards.
It’s much easier to know ahead of time which traditional foods are vegan rather than having to leg it to exclusively vegan restaurants, which might be abundant (if you’re in, say, LA) or may be non-existant (my experience in some parts of Thailand).
2. Get The Best Vegan Apps
Get the vegan APPS. The Happy Cow app will pretty reliably find you places with vegan food near to your location. You can choose for the app to filter the best vegan restaurants, vegetarian and vegan restaurants, restaurants with vegan options and shops where you can buy cruelty-free food and ingredients.
I tried the app in a small town in Sri Lanka and it hit the nail on the head with several places that I’ve eaten at recently, and I can confirm that those places offer good vegan food. The app responds to user feedback so if somewhere is claiming to offer vegan food but actually doesn’t, it will be removed.
The Happy Cow app is free from Google Play or £3.99 from iTunes
Other apps that are useful for your vegan travels are:
Vegetarious– this app does a similar thing to Happy Cow but we’ve found it sometimes offers different choices to Happy Cow- it’s always nice to have options! Get it for free on Google Play or iTunes.
Is it Vegan? – What magic is this?! Simply use the scanner to scan the bar code of whichever food or drink you want, and it will tell you if it’s vegan. There are limitations to this app; one is it mainly focuses on the USA.
The other is that bviously you can’t scan dishes in restaurants and some ingredients (like glycerine) can’t be determined as definitely vegan as there are several sources. Get the app on Google Play or iTunes.
VegGuide.org is a great website for finding vegan restaurants ( it works best in the US).
A word of- well, sense- while using these apps: there is no replacement for common sense. There can always be glitches and misinformation so these apps can’t be relied on to get you everywhere in the world, happily, as a vegan.
3. Join Local Vegan Facebook Groups
This proved invaluable to me while in Sri Lanka; a vegan friend added me to the Vegan Sri Lanka group, and it was fabulous. People posted in there every day with what local products they know to be vegan; restaurant and cafe recommendations, and all kinds of useful info like that.
It was so nice to be able to take a screenshot of some snacks from the group and walk into a shop and pick up the same stuff, without having to read through a million labels!
I would recommend joining these kinds of groups long before you get to the country, so you can get an idea of where to shop and what to buy- however I jumped into a couple when we got to the country and it has been very useful. To find them simply type ‘vegan’ and your destination into the Facebook search bar and you will see the groups that are available to join.
4. Meet other Vegans
Local vegans will of course know the best vegan restaurants near you, so why not meet up with other vegans, make friends and free two birds with one stone? The best websites and apps for meet-ups are:
- Vegan forums on ‘Happy Cow’
- Meetup.com, where you can choose to meet people near you with similar interests
- Veggiedate.com if you are in that kinda mood
- ‘Veggieboards’ online forum has specifically vegan forums
- Veganforum.com is a place for vegans to chat and it has specific travel-related threads
- The ‘Vegan Friend Me’ group on Facebook is a group for vegans worldwide who want to make new friends
5. Use Vegan City Guides
Check out vegan travel bloggers via Vegantravel.com to search for vegan city guides. There’s nothing like firsthand experience of a place to ensure you head to the best spots and get to try the most delicious vegan food that a city has to offer!
Of course I have a vegan guide to Thailand and a vegan guide to the Philippines, if that’s where you’re headed!
6. Cook Your Own Vegan Food
If you fancy a break from eating out, cook your own vegan food in the kitchen of your apartment or hostel. I recommend downloading the Food Monster app, which has over 8000 delicious vegan recipes for you to try. What’s tastier than good ole’ home-cooked food without the brain-work?
I hope you have found my guide to answer “how to find vegan restaurants near me” helpful. If you have an awesome vegan hack you think readers should know about, get in touch!