If you’re looking for a culinary adventure, start with Ethiopian. The food is rich, flavorful, and relatively healthy. Most dishes resemble a stew-like consistency and are always accompanied by injera—a soft, spongy flatbread made from teff flour and served by the basketful. It’like the Ethiopian version of endless breadsticks, but better. Beyond being incredibly addictive, the injera serves a practical purpose: it is your utensil. You use it to scoop up your main entree. Like many of the culture’s traditional dishes, injera is already vegan. Other vegan-friendly options include Atakilt Wat (potatoes, carrots, and cabbage), Misir Wot (red lentil stew), Gomen (stewed collard greens), Fasolia (stewed green beans), Kik Alicha (split pea stew) and more. Try it at home: make Vegan Richa’s Atakilt Wat and Gluten-Free Injera.
Dining-out tip: Don’t just try one dish; sample them all! Ethiopian restaurants offer a vegetarian (accidentally vegan) combo platter that lets you try most if not all of the veggie offerings. Don’t worry; it always comes with plenty of injera!
2. South Indian
Hold the ghee and meat, and bring on the rice and dosas! Southern Indian food is far less reliant on animal products compared with the northern half of the nation, making it easier for vegans to dine worry-free. Regional staples include sambar (tamarind-spiced lentil and vegetable stew), dosas (a crepe-like flatbread served either stuffed or plain), Idli (fermented and steamed rice and lentil cake), and various curries and chutneys. Whip up some sambar in less than an hour with Vegan Richa’s Instant Pot Eggplant Sambar recipe.
Dining-out tip: While South Indian food is lighter in dairy products compared to the North, some cheese, eggs, and cream are used in certain dishes. Avoid items with “paneer” (cheese) and confirm with your server that the curry and flatbread you’re ordering is dairy-free.
Wellness practitioners and diet gurus have touted the benefits of a Mediterranean diet for years, but why? Because it’s mostly plant-based! There’s nothing like a mezze platter of roasted peppers, charred eggplant, creamy hummus, briny olives, refreshing tabouli, cucumber salad, and warm, fluffy pita bread. A glass of vegan wine doesn’t hurt, either. Make yourself a fully loaded falafel pita sandwich with the works by following this recipe. It’s a Mediterranean street food classic!
Dining-out tip: Double check with your server to ensure the falafel and pita are egg and dairy-free.
Beans. Veggies. Rice. Salsa. Guac. What more can anyone ask for, other than a hand-pressed corn tortilla, of course? Luckily, all of these foods are vegan. From pseudo-Mexican fast-casual concepts like Chipotle, to more authentic sit-down establishments, Mexican food is generally a safe space for vegans. In fact, the Latino culture is helping to push the plant-based movement forward. In Southern California, Latino communities are turning entrepreneurial, veganizing their traditional foods and establishing pop-up businesses and panaderias (bakeries). Skip the line at Chipotle; make Sweet Simple Vegan’s Freezer-Friendly Breakfast Burritos!
Dining-out tip: Some beans and tortillas may be made with lard, though this practice is becoming more of a rarity. Rice may also be made with chicken stock. Ask your server to ensure these items are animal-free.
“Vegan” may not be the first word most associate with “Korean BBQ,” but many traditionally meat-heavy restaurants are opening up to the idea. More Korean restaurants are now offering vegan versions of their classic veggie dishes, such as tofu stew, mandu (steamed dumplings), japchae (stir-fried sweet potato noodles), bibimbap (crispy rice and veggie bowl), and banchan (traditional Korean small side dishes ranging from kimchi, pickled daikon, mung bean, and stewed potatoes). Also, there’s rice. Perfectly-cooked, unadulterated rice to cool down that chili paste-infused kimchi. Experience vegan Korean food at home with The Vegan Korean Soon Tofu Stew recipe.