Hot destinations for steadfast vegetarians and flexible carnivores
San Francisco, USA
Said to be the city with the world’s best salads, San Francisco has been a haven for vegetarians since the 1960s. There are plenty of exclusively vegan or vegetarian eateries, but the real beauty here might be the meat-serving establishments with vegetarian-friendly options – including late-night snack bars (try Taqueria Vallarta’s famous veggie burritos, available until midnight everyday) and on-the-go food outlets. One of San Francisco’s legendary vegetarian joints is Green’s. Opened in 1979 by Zen Buddhists, it still sources ingredients from the original organic farm run by the Zen community north of the city. Try the brunch menu’s Pinnacles Scramble – scrambled eggs with yellow finn potatoes, chipotle chillies and cheddar, served on corn tortillas with black bean chili. And we defy anyone to resist the Snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich with nectarines and blueberries. All this, with a spectacular Bay view to boot.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Vegetarianism is a vibrant sub-culture in Thailand's northern culinary capital, which regularly rates as one of the best cities for vegetarian travellers. Look out for rows of yellow flags flying outside restaurants or pick up a Nancy Chandler map that clearly indicates vegetarian or vegan venues. Make like the locals and head to Khun Churn at the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre for an extensive buffet with an incredible salad bar, or try Anchan Vegetarian – a hot spot for visitors and expats that gets rave reviews. Meanwhile, the inexpensive Chiang Mai Vegetarian Society is a no-frills (you wash your own dishes) but big-hearted café and organic food store.
Scotland’s largest city may not be an obvious destination for vegetarians, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) last year named it the UK’s best city for vegans. Its broad cultural mix, buzzing social scene and large student community all add up to a city that’s embracing vegetarian trends and offering more world-class veggie eateries. Mono serves interesting, home-cooked vegan food (try the smoked tofu with pesto mayo sandwich, or the seitan burger with barbecue sauce) while hosting exhibitions and book readings. Or head to the friendly and atmospheric Saramago café bar at the Centre for Contemporary Arts for a vegan take on that most Scottish of dishes – haggis.