Glasgow has been heralded as the best city in the world for vegans, but where are the best nations for travellers on a meat-free diet?
In many countries, eating meat is part of the national identity. Think of Australian barbecues, American cowboys and South American cattle ranchers. There was controversy earlier this year when President Obama hosted a dinner for 12 Republican senators, and one of them ordered a vegetarian meal. The identity of the culprit was protected, for fear that exposure could mean losing their seat. TV host Bill Maher commented that American voters would sooner elect a gay president than a vegetarian.
Republican senators in Iowa and Texas said vegetarians were ''un-American" and made public pledges to eat more meat.
Still, once you've waved the political madness aside, you'll find that cutting-edge vegetarian and vegan cuisine thrives on America's east and west coasts. San Francisco still benefits from its hippie heritage with decent vegetarian and vegan options as standard around the Haight. San Francisco's Zen Center established Greens in 1976, and various cookbooks from its resident chefs continue to influence the menus of vegetarian eateries worldwide. Millennium, in the city centre, ranks as one of the world's top vegan restaurants with impressive high-end cuisine. Seattle and Portland are hot spots, with vegan bakeries, breweries, clothing stores, bike shops and even – in Portland – a vegan strip joint. However, Peta's choice for the top city in the US this year was, surprisingly, Austin, Texas. In the heart of ranching country, vegan entreprenuers have taken to the streets with food trucks offering tempeh burritos and chicken faux-jitas. It can still be a struggle to find vegetarian food in small-town diners, and it makes most sense to look for sustenance in areas that are highly populated and diverse: big cosmopolitan cities are the best place to look for vegetarian and vegan food.
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