Delicious, Responsible Vacation Options for Vegetarians

Taking a responsible vacation as a vegetarian can be a burden or a blessing. If you call yourself a vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, frutarian, herbivore or any such variation, you might want to check out these four countries for good eats.

India is a fine place for a responsible vacation, and one that a vegetarian won't regret. Well, you might experience some tummy trouble, as most travelers do, but if you can get through that (or skip it), your taste buds will thank you. And, you will feel right at home, since India has more vegetarians than the whole rest of the world combined. Almost half of the Indian population (around 399 million in 2006) eats a meat-free diet. Needless to say: their vegetarian cuisine is up-to-snuff (and spicy). Some towns, such as Pushkar, are completely meat free. So if you enjoy herbs, spices and chili peppers, India is the number one veggie destination.

In Taiwan, there are 6,000 vegetarian restaurants! Approximately 10% of the population in Taiwan is vegetarian, namely because of Buddhism. Seafood and pork are common, but you won't see too much beef. Taiwanese cuisine is often a little bit sweet, and it features a lot of vegetables and spices. Each region feature different dishes. Due to diversity, Taiwan can be quite a culinary adventure, and it's a responsible vacation choice for the adventurous vegetarian.

Due to kosher laws, there are a number of vegetarians in Israel, and it's a lovely place for a responsible vacation. Kosher food doesn't contain pork or shellfish, and meat and dairy can't be combined. As a result, kosher restaurants in Israel will serve exclusively meat or dairy, so vegetarians can opt for the exclusively dairy restaurants. Vegans can also find plentiful Mediterranean food, such as falafel and hummus. Amirim is a small moshav (village) in Israel,  which was founded by vegetarians committed to eating organic food; it's one of the few places in the world that's completely vegetarian.

In Malaysia, a handful of vegetarian restaurants serve mock meat. The trouble with mock meat is that… well, it looks (and sometimes tastes) like meat. If you've been avoiding meat for years, it can be a pretty frightening to try it! Also, Malaysian dishes are often meat or fish based (whether or not the meat is real). Still, if you eat fish, you're in for a treat. And, Malaysia does actually offer a surprising number of vegetarian options, especially in certain areas like Kuala Lumpur. It's probably not the best place for a vegetarian who quivers at the idea of "chicken stock", but if you're more flexible, Malaysia is a fine place for a responsible vacation. The country offers tasty and creative cuisine, inspired by Indian, European and Chinese food.

Photo credit: Roland