Best Vegan restaurants in the world
The Plant-based Revolution is Getting Tastier:
Discover the best vegan restaurants around the world
The number of people choosing a plant-based diet over omnivorous nutrition has grown massively in recent years. Until just a decade ago veganism was mostly considered either a niche culture for dedicated animal lovers or an extreme life choice taken up by activists and hippies, but recent surveys are showing that avoiding animal products is increasingly becoming a mainstream decision, which could be great news for the planet and our health.
A report by Global Data shows that the number of vegan U.S. consumers has grown by 600% between 2014 and 2017 and while vegans still compose a fraction of the population, the market is adapting to cater to an expanding group of people looking for cruelty-free food and healthier alternatives. Vegan and plant-based meats, cheeses, and milk products are now occupying a larger than ever portion of supermarket shelves, with sales growing by 17% over the course of the past year. The trend is growing in Europe as well, as shown by the UK-based Vegan Society, which has revealed that the number of vegans has quadrupled between 2014 and 2018.
Avoiding meat and dairy, however, isn’t just for committed vegans. More and more people look favorably at plant-based options on restaurant menus even if they’re not vegan. Many have chosen to actively cut down on their consumption of animal products. Whether it is choosing a vegan dish when eating out, checking cosmetics for animal testing, or opting for meat-free days on a weekly basis, people in Europe and the US are showing an increased awareness toward issues of animal rights and environmental sustainability.
Veganism – a way of living that involves the complete avoidance of animal products such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and leather – is becoming a global movement. Driving its popularity, especially among millennials, are initiatives such as Veganuary, an annual challenge started by British activists Jane Land and Matthew Glover that asks participants to abstain from non-vegan meals for 31 days during the first month of the year. One million people – ranging from long-time vegetarians looking to go the extra mile to curious omnivores signed up to the 2020 edition of Veganuary, which is now a registered charity in the UK.
People approach veganism for a variety of reasons. The results of the last Veganuary challenge have shown that the majority of participants wanted to try a plant-based diet because they found the violent practices that occur in the meat and dairy industries unjust or because they wanted to start a healthier lifestyle. Social media has brought an awareness to the realities of how animal products are generally produced. A minority (10%) joined the challenge because of environmental reasons. All valid reasons, if you ask us.
The benefits of a plant-based diet, both for society at large and for the individual that opts for a vegan lifestyle, are overwhelming. Avoiding meat and dairy not only saves the lives of the 50 billion animals that are being killed and processed every year to become food, it also reduces the destruction of millennia-old rainforests, protecting wildlife and endangered species. Over half of Central America’s rainforests have now been cut down to make space for cattle farms – a loss that is threatening the balance of the global climate.
When it comes to sustainability, evidence on the negative impact of the livestock farming industry on our environment abounds. The meat industry alone contributes to 18% of global greenhouse gasses emissions and pollutes the waters 145,000 miles of rivers and streams only in the U.S, by releasing phosphorous and nitrogen-rich waste that reaches the ecosystem untreated.
Vegan diets are also known to promote weight loss, reduce the risk of heart diseases thanks to lower cholesterol levels, and decrease the chances of getting diabetes. Of course, going vegan doesn’t automatically ensure good health, but a higher intake of plant-based foods has been said to increase the positive microbiomes in a person’s gut and has been linked to reduced risks of getting certain types of cancer.
In the span of seven or eight years, the vegan industry has changed radically, catering no longer to a small group of conscious individuals, but to an expanding audience that chooses to eat plant-based products for a variety of reasons. Eating habits are changing and even in countries where animal products are at the core of traditional cuisine, a growing number of restaurants are specializing in vegan cooking and the results can be nothing short of mindblowing.
An increasing number of chefs are joining the movement to reduce the use of animal based food and challenging those who fear that dishes without meat or dairy might be boring. Long gone are the days when eating vegan meant salads for every meal. Today, eating plant-based can be an adventure. Here are seven of the most exciting vegan restaurants around the world, proving plant-based menus are some of the most innovative and interesting around. These restaurants are praised for their ability to combine creativity with an environmentally-conscious approach to food. Below is a short list of where to experience some of the best vegan food in the world.
Where to eat the best vegan food in the world
ONA (Arès, France)
Where: 3bis Rue Sophie et Paul Wallerstein, 33740 Arès, France
Former archaeologist Claire Valée launched ONA in 2016 hoping to develop an ethical business based on concepts of sustainability and compassion. The name of the restaurant means “Origine Non-Animale” (animal-free origin) and offers a seven-dish gourmet menu composed of organic, natural, and refined flavors. Despite French traditionalists fond of heavy meat dishes looking at Claire’s innovative concept with some initial skepticism, ONA has been a great success. It’s the first French vegan restaurant to receive a coveted Michelin star.
Plant Food + Wine (Los Angeles, US)
Where: 1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291, United States
Plant Food + Wine
Chef Matthew Kenney’s vision of an ideal restaurant takes shape in Venice, Los Angeles, where his Plant Food + Wine offers delicious vegan dishes to a crowd of health-conscious eaters. The restaurant is designed like a communal space, where regulars can gather around the long wooden tables to try seasonal recipes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. The wines are (obviously) vegan, produced by organic or biodynamic wineries of the area. In short, Plant Food + Wine is an experience, for the food, the drinks, the atmosphere. Give their lasagna a try – you won’t regret it, vegan or not.
Crossroads Kitchen (Los Angeles, US)
Where: 8284 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046, United States
At crossroads, food means art and art means simplicity. Small plate dishes inspired by the Mediterranean tradition, compose an intriguing menu of seasonal specialties, overseen by Executive Chef Scot Jones. Staples of Southern European cuisines such as artichokes, lentils, and mushrooms blend with kelp caviar, palm and horseradish cream to provide a neverending range of sensations.
Casa Albets (Lladurs, Spain)
Where: Casa Albets s/n, 25283 Lladurs, Lleida, Spain
Boasting a Michelin Green Star for its achievements in gastronomy and sustainability, Casa Albets offers a fully organic menu that originates from ingredients farmed in the property’s land. The restaurant is housed in a historical villa that dates back to the 11th century south of the French border and offers international-inspired cuisine presented creatively in a charming setting. Go for the excellent food, stay for the rustic atmosphere.
Mesa Verde (Santa Barbara, US)
Where: 1919 Cliff Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
Plant-based cuisine served in a sophisticated location – this is Mesa Verda, Santa Barbara’s best vegan restaurant offering dishes so good that even stern meat-eaters can’t resist. No detail goes unchecked at Mesa, a place that resembles a house with a curated garden serving top-notch meals from an open-plan kitchen. Many of the menu’s items – such as the tacos or the empanadas, are Latin-inspired, but flavors vary widely. Everything comes from nearby farms – the juicy mushroom burger is one of those dishes you’ll definitely come back for.
abcV (New York, US)
Where: 38 E 19th St, New York, NY 10003, United States
Chef’s Jean-Georges Vongerichten latest creation, the abcV restaurant located in New York’s Flatiron District, is a multi sensorial experience that combines elegant design with incredible vegan dishes. The minimal aesthetic of the decor welcomes diners in a relaxed atmosphere where “plant-based intelligence” is the guiding principle of each dish on the menu. This means sustainable ingredients sourced from small, artisanal farms, non-GMO, organic products, and creative compositions that hit the perfect balance between healthy eating, eco-friendly choices, and, of course, unexpected flavors that surprise at every bite. Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, abcV nourishes your soul with fresh shakes, spicy dosas, and protein-rich lentil bowls.
Stinky Tofu Boss (Taipei, Taiwan)
Where: 6, Lane 313, Section 2, Zhonghua Road, Taipei, 110, Taiwan
According to a Chinese legend, stinky tofu was invented by Wang Zhihe, a scholar who lived in Huangshan during the Qing Dynasty. After a failed Imperial exam, Wang started selling tofu in Beijing to make a living. One day, he decided to dice up a small portion of his large amount of unsold tofu and put it in a jar filled with soil. After a couple of days, he opened the jar and found that his food had turned greenish and… stinky. Surprisingly it was also delicious. Fermented tofu is a vegan classic in Taipei, often served steamed with mushrooms and basil. Stinky Tofu Boss, as the name suggests, is an institution when it comes to this legendary dish. Would you dare to try it?
Joia (Milan, Italy)
Where: Via Panfilo Castaldi, 18, 20124 Milano MI
Since 1989 Joia has been known as the best vegan restaurant in Italy. In 1996 it obtained the prestigious Michelin Star, it was the first restaurant of its kind to gain the title. The founder is the famous chef Pietro Leemann, who transitioned into vegetarianism after a long trip through Asia in the 1980s and now focuses on healthy, high-quality cuisine. All organic and biodynamic ingredients come from local gardens cultivated with love, passion, and great respect for the environment. The menu is extremely creative, with raw cuisine dishes mixing with experimental cooking techniques.
Story by: Angelo Zinna
Header image: Upsplash/Jennifer Schmidt