Trying to find food in your home country that meets your dietary restrictions can be difficult enough. Add in a totally different culture, new language, and different cuisine and it can be enough to make anyone want to stay home.
As dietary restrictions increase, limited culinary options while travelling around the globe are decreasing. Those who are celiac no longer need to stress over where to find gluten-free pizza in Sicily. Vegans can rest easy knowing they’ll be able to find plenty of delicious and healthy options on the streets of Hoi An. When you’re in destination, expert guides can make suggestions for meals at some of the best local restaurants, markets and street food vendors so you can make the most of your vacation and fully indulge – dietary restrictions aside.
We’ve talked to our experts and scoured the globe for the best destinations for traveling with dietary restrictions and have the ultimate list of the best countries for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free travelers. Warning: You will be hungry after reading this list.
Ideal for: vegetarian, vegan & gluten-free travelers
Though all the countries on our list are great options for those traveling with dietary restrictions, India takes the number 1 spot for countries no matter what your diet consists of. With over 500 million people (nearly half the population!) being vegetarian, it’s a hotspot for vegetarian and vegan travelers. Get your fill of spicy rice dishes and mouthwatering curries and snack away on dosas as you make your way through tiger safaris, Taj tours and cycling through Kerala. India’s cuisine is naturally gluten-free, packed with lentils, chickpeas, and rice making it easy for celiac travelers to indulge in the local food scene as well.
Getting you there: India Tours
Ideal for: vegetarian & vegan travelers
From quick street food to world-class restaurants, there are plenty of options no matter what kind of budget you’re working with. Thai food in Thailand is different than Thai food at home and you’ll have to be a little more careful when ordering your meals, but you’re still guaranteed to find something that whets your appetite. For meat-free eaters, be sure to specify jay, for vegan, or mangasawirat, for vegetarian. You’ll be served your favorite Thai dishes without the chicken or beef. Dishes like phad thai phak (fried noodles with vegetables) will keep you going between temple-hopping and jungle safaris. And don’t even get us started on the fruit! The amount of amazingly fresh, delicious fruit available can keep you filled up for days.
A note for our gluten-free and celiac friends: Thai dishes use naturally gluten-free and use celiac-friendly rice noodles – just be wary of the sauces they’re cooked in. Many traditional dishes have soy and other sauces that may include gluten. Dishes such as green curry, pad thai, steamed veggies and satay skewers are all safe to eat.
Getting you there: Thailand Tours
Ideal for: vegetarian & vegan travelers
Bali is not only a paradise for honeymooners, beach lovers, and adventurers alike, it’s also a vegan and vegetarian paradise. The Hindu population follows similar dietary rules as vegetarians, plus the amount of sweet tropical fruit available is enough to make anyone swoon. Start your day with freshly squeezed juice to keep yourself hydrated in the tropical heat then hit any of the countless vegetarian and vegan restaurants for a yummy (and nutritious!) lunch. The whole island seems to live off of a plant-based diet, so you’ll find scrambled tofu, hummus, smoothie bowls and tempeh at every turn. For more complex meat-free dishes, head to some of the most upscale restaurants where chefs are constantly working on new dishes like zucchini pasts with beet caviar, vegan pesto, sunflower seeds, and vegan cashew cheese.
With dense jungles, historic temples, cascading waterfalls, idyllic beaches AND an abundance of mouthwatering veg meals, we wouldn’t blame you if you “missed” your flight home.
Getting you there: Indonesia Tours
Ideal for: gluten-free travelers
When you think Italy, you probably think of pasta dishes, heavy breads, and pizza, but despite its reputation as the land of all things gluten, Italy is leading the way in celiac-friendly options. The country is also known for its naturally gluten-free (and very delicious) dishes like risotto and ossobuco, but celiac travelers can delight in pastas and pizzas you wouldn’t normally get to enjoy. Head out on a foodie tour and you’ll be greeted with plenty of gluten-alternative options so you can still get your fill of Italian classics.
For our meat-free friends, Italy also has the highest rate of vegetarianism in the European Union, so you’ll find plenty of spots with food catered specifically for your dietary needs, or feel free to ask them to “hold the prosciutto” without worrying about getting weird looks.
Getting you there: Italy Tours
Ideal for: gluten-free, vegetarian & vegan travelers
With more and more expats moving to Costa Rica to pursue healthier, all-natural lifestyles, it’s no surprise that the country is a haven for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free eaters alike. Traditional dishes consist of rice, plantains, beans, fruit, and veggies, which means that anyone and everyone can enjoy the local cuisine. As the country is a mecca for health gurus from around the world, you’ll also find restaurants specializing in Italian, Thai, Indian, and plenty of others, all with gluten-free options on the menu. If you’re looking for a gourmet GF meal, tacas made with corn tortillas and tuna filet with aubergine puree and asparagus are sure to hit the spot.
Enjoy your days surfing on iconic beaches, soaking in thermal baths, trekking through the rainforest, or simply lounging in a hammock, then hit the local markets and restaurants worry-free.
Getting you there: Costa Rica Tours