Last Updated on September 6, 2023
The vegan movement has seen exponential growth over the past few years. From being perceived as a ‘niche’ lifestyle choice, it’s now embraced by many, driven by health reasons, environmental concerns, and ethical beliefs. As more and more people turn towards plant-based diets, there’s an increasing interest in understanding how different cultures around the world have historically incorporated vegan-friendly dishes into their culinary traditions.
This guide will take you on a global gastronomic adventure, as we explore the vegan treasures hidden within various world cuisines. Pack your metaphorical bags, and let’s embark on this vegan voyage.
The British Isles
British cuisine has come a long way from the meat-heavy meals of yesteryear. While fish and chips or roast dinners may be the first dishes that come to mind, the U.K. has a rich history of plant-based food.
With the surge in veganism, and perhaps influenced by the ease of international travel (especially with U.K.PASSPORTS), British chefs are reinventing traditional recipes. Think vegan shepherd’s pie, made with lentils and root vegetables, or a delightful dairy-free trifle layered with fresh berries and coconut cream.
Indian cuisine has been a haven for vegetarians for centuries, with a large proportion of the population practicing a meat-free diet due to religious and cultural reasons.
Dishes like ‘Baingan Bharta’ (roasted eggplant mash), ‘Chana Masala’ (spiced chickpeas), and ‘Aloo Gobi’ (potato and cauliflower curry) are naturally vegan and packed full of flavor.
Additionally, India’s array of breads, from chapatis to dosas, offer a delightful accompaniment to these rich, aromatic dishes.
Ethiopian cuisine is a hidden gem in the vegan world.
With fasting days that require abstaining from animal products, many traditional Ethiopian dishes are already vegan. ‘Injera’, a sourdough flatbread, serves as a staple and pairs perfectly with various vegan stews such as ‘Shiro Wat’ (a spicy chickpea flour stew) and ‘Misir Wat’ (a red lentil stew).
Japanese cuisine, with its emphasis on seasonal and fresh ingredients, offers a plethora of vegan dishes. Beyond sushi, which can easily be made vegan with fillings like avocado, cucumber, and pickled radish, there are dishes like ‘Shojin Ryori’.
This traditional Buddhist cuisine is entirely vegan and balances flavors and textures to create a harmonious meal. Staples like miso soup, tofu, and seaweed salads are not just healthy but also delightful on the palate.
Mexican cuisine might be famous for its cheesy quesadillas and beef tacos, but there are numerous vegan treasures to be discovered. From veggie-stuffed tamales to ‘Chiles Rellenos’ (stuffed peppers) without the cheese, the options are endless. Black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, and corn tortillas form the foundation for countless vegan dishes.
Lebanese cuisine offers a medley of vegan delights. Hummus and falafel are just the tip of the iceberg. Dishes like ‘Tabbouleh’ (a fresh parsley and bulgur salad), ‘Fattoush’ (a tangy bread salad), and ‘Mujadara’ (lentils and rice topped with caramelized onions) are hearty, flavorful, and completely plant-based.
Beyond the cheesy pizzas and meaty pastas, Italian cuisine has a rich tradition of plant-based dishes. Bruschetta with fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic, or ‘Ribollita’ (a Tuscan bread soup), and ‘Pasta e Fagioli’ (pasta and beans) showcase the country’s love for fresh produce.
Plus, many traditional pasta dishes can easily be veganized with a few simple tweaks.
Thai cuisine, known for its bold flavors, offers a range of vegan options. From green curries made with coconut milk and tofu to ‘Pad Thai’ sans egg and shrimp, the choices are diverse. Just watch out for hidden ingredients like fish sauce and shrimp paste, and you’re good to go!
As we navigate the world through its myriad of cuisines, it’s evident that veganism is not just a modern trend but deeply rooted in many cultural culinary practices. From the mountains of Japan to the deserts of Mexico, plant-based dishes have found their place on dining tables across cultures and generations.
So the next time you’re thinking of exploring a new cuisine or traveling to a foreign land, remember that your vegan lifestyle can be an exciting lens through which to experience and celebrate the rich tapestry of global culinary traditions. Safe travels and happy dining!