While the vegan population of India is not precisely known, India has the lowest rate of meat consumption in the world. There are almost twice as many vegetarians in India (500 Million!) than there are meat-eaters in Indonesia. This high rate of vegetarianism can be attributed to religion, but also economics. Every city and town worth visiting has completely vegetarian “Pure Veg” restaurants.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, the most important word to learn during your adventures throughout Vietnam is “chay”. This describes a vegetarian way of eating the same way Vietnamese Buddhists too. Most of the Chay food is also vegan as most Vietnamese dishes are dairy-free by default. Contrary to a lot of vegan dishes in countries like Indonesia or India, Vietnamese cuisine is also rather low in calories. Some dishes, such as classic rice paper rolls or papaya salad can be raw vegan, while other dishes, such as traditional soups (Pho, Bun Rieu, Bun Hue, etc.) are low in fat, yet incredibly satisfying.
Ethiopia is a country that is off the radar for most people. It is a fascinating country that is also surprisingly vegan-friendly. A rare sight in sub-Saharan Africa. The dominant religion in Ethiopia is Orthodox Christianity. Around half the population following this religion fasts for around 200-250 days a year. However fasting there, doesn’t mean abstaining from eating, but abstaining from any animal products. This fasting mostly happens before religious holidays and every Friday and Wednesday throughout the year. Outside of fasting, however, Ethiopians tend to eat a lot of meat. While you won’t have trouble finding vegan delights any day of the week, you may want to consider traveling there during Ethiopian Christmas or Lent.
As an island nation in southeastern Europe, Greece may be likened to being the Indonesia of Europe. While it is famous for meat on a stick and feta cheese, it is surprisingly vegan-friendly. Just like Ethiopia, we have fasting traditions to thank for this. Greek orthodox eat a mostly vegan diet when they are fasting, which is around half the time (180 days a year). Remember the phrase nistisima, which means fasting in Greece. While the number of vegan restaurants is increasing like everywhere else, the term vegan is still unknown to many local restaurant owners. When mentioning nistisima also mention that you don’t eat honey of seafood.