Top 5: Vegan and vegetarian dishes around the world

The best vegan and vegetarian dishes across the globe Friday, 20 May 2016

By Rosie Benson

The benefits of a meat-free diet range from better physical health to improving the environment. In honour of National Vegetarian Week, Rosie Benson takes a look at some of the best vegan and vegetarian dishes across the globe…

Tabbouleh, Middle East

Vegetarian ✓

Vegan ✓

Found on dinner tables across the Middle East, tabbouleh has been described by food writers as a ‘global salad'. Traditionally made up of finely chopped parsley, fresh tomatoes, mint, bulgur wheat and onion, it's seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and (for an extra twist) handfuls of pomegranate. Green and refreshing, the parsley makes it the ideal companion to strong garlic-based dishes. Less authentic versions tend to rely heavily on bulgur wheat to make up the bulk, so find one with plenty of parsley for a true taste of the Levant.

Find it: At any Turkish, Lebanese or Middle-Eastern restaurant

Red Lentil & Sweet Potato Curry, India

Vegetarian ✓

Vegan ✓

Vegetarianism is deeply rooted in the culture and religion of India. Hindus and Jains, who make up more than 80% of the population, often do not eat meat, while some also refrain from consuming eggs and dairy products. This fragrant curry, made up of hearty red lentils and sweet potato, is seasoned with onion, cumin and coriander. Lentils are a rich source of fibre, as well as a nutritional powerhouse containing potassium, calcium, zinc and vitamin K. Serve with naan bread and enjoy this goodness-packed, spicy Indian dish.

Find it: This can be easily made with store cupboard ingredients, or head to your local Indian restaurant and ask for a masoor dhal (red lentil) curry

Guacamole, Mexico

Vegetarian ✓

Vegan ✓

There's no doubt that avocado is having a moment. The most pinned food on Pinterest in 2015, no brunch or east-London café menu is complete without it. Yet, one of the best things rustled up with avocado is still good old-fashioned guacamole. First created by the Aztecs, guacamole has become a staple side to any BBQ, buffet or party menu. Mash ripe avocados with a mortar and pestle for the best consistency, then season with tomato, onion, garlic, lemon juice and chilli. Though very much a starter or side dish, serve up with some tortilla chips, pitta bread, or sliced vegetables, and it'll disappear in seconds.

Find it: In any supermarket refrigerated section, but it's best made at home for taste and satisfaction

Bolon de Verde, Ecuador

Vegetarian ✓

Vegan ✗

These Ecuadorian dumplings are made from mashed plantain stuffed with cheese, then fried until crispy. A typical Ecuadorian dish, they're traditionally served as breakfast or brunch, but are also a great side or appetiser. Usually made with pork or chorizo inside, they work just as well with cheese.

Closely related to bananas, plantains are full of goodness, such as vitamin B6 and vitamin C. However, frying them can add to their calorific content, so serve with sliced tomato and avocado as a light accompaniment. Season with salt and pepper, or chilli for a spicy kick.

Find it: Ecuadorian cuisine has yet to take the food industry by storm, but there are some venues dotted around the UK. Or look for the Peruvian version, tacacho.

Yetsom Beyaynetu, Ethiopia

Vegetarian ✓

Vegan ✓

Wednesdays and Fridays are designated fasting days in Ethiopia, when meat and animal products are omitted from meals, so it's a great place for vegan and vegetarian travellers. Ethiopian cuisine is all about sampling a variety of different dishes. In yetsom beyaynetu, a portion of each dish is placed on a bed of injera, a slightly sour, pancake-like, flat bread. This soaks up all the juices of the food on top, which makes for a delicious end to the meal. Classic Ethiopian concoctions found in yetsom beyaynetu include shiro wat (chickpea flour curry), misir wat (red lentil stew) and fresh salata (tomato salad).

Find it: The Queen of Sheba in London, and the Birmingham Blue Nile, are two renowned Ethiopian restaurants in the UK

Read more about injera in our Top 5: Healthy Exotic Foods

Tabbouleh, Julia Frost via Flickr
Guacamole, You as a Machine via Flickr
Yetsom Beyaynetu, Mighty Travels via Flickr

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