These days, meat-free eating is a big deal.
Recent studies have found that the vegan population has increased by 600% since 2014, while in 2018, 1 in 8 British people called themselves either vegetarian or vegan, with a further 21% adopting a diet mainly based around vegetable products.
In fact, this surge in demand led to Tesco declaring that vegan food was the ‘fastest growing culinary trend of 2018,’ and doubling the size of their own vegan food range.
However, the explosion in popularity of plant-based food has not been reflected in the field of fine dining, with very few of the 2000+ Michelin-starred restaurants in the world offering vegan-friendly meals on their menu.
In fact, at the very top of the pyramid, only 1 restaurant out of the 163 which have been awarded three Michelin stars, is known for serving a primarily vegan cuisine.
This means that if vegans are looking to dine out at a world-renowned, Michelin starred restaurant, and enjoy some of the best culinary experiences money can buy, then unfortunately, their options are remarkably limited.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of what are probably the 10 best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the world, so all of you who’ve removed meat from your diet will know exactly where to go if you’re looking for a world-class dining experience.
The 10 Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in the World Are:
It’s only fair we put Arpege first on this list.
As mentioned before, only 1 of the 163 restaurants in the world with 3 Michelin stars is known for serving a primarily vegan menu; that restaurant is Arpege.
Chef and owner Alain Passard quickly established the restaurant as a leading dining venue soon after taking over the restaurant in 1986, to the extent that within 10 years it had acquired three Michelin stars, which it has successfully maintained ever since.
In 2001, Passard caused a major stir in the culinary world when he decided that Arpege, which up to this point had served meat ever since its opening, would now be removing all meats from its menu, and transition to an entirely plant-based cuisine.
It was an enormous risk.
But burned out by 25 years of cooking the same food, Passard knew he had to make a change.
What could have been a career-ending mistake turned into a triumph, as Arpege has kept its 3 Michelin stars every year since changing their menu, and Passard has influenced a generation of chefs, while even inspiring whole new culinary disciplines, such as the farm-to-table movement, which is very popular in the USA.
In 2001, Passard removed all traces of meat and fish from the menu, but some bits and pieces have crept back in over time, meaning that Arpege isn’t exclusively a vegetarian restaurant. This is great if you have a dining partner who does eat meat, as they will also have a range of food available to meet their needs.
As Arpege has been serving a primarily plant-based menu for almost two decades, and as Passard switched to this style of cuisine long before it was fashionable, Arpege must surely be considered one of the most influential restaurants in the world.
Importantly though, the quality of the food itself is difficult to beat, as the three Michelin stars show.
It is for all these reasons, and more, that we’re putting Arpege at Number 1 in our list of the 10 best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the world.
Boasting two Michelin stars, the vegetarian restaurant Daigo has thoroughly earned its place at number 2 on our list.
Based in Tokyo, Japan, Daigo is an extraordinary restaurant in many ways.
It can be found at the foot of Mount Atago, in a beautiful, yet peaceful and serene environment. This sense of calm is vital to the essence of Daigo, as the restaurant is steeped in Buddhist tradition and the Japanese architectural design.
The main dining table is situated in a tea-house style premises which overlooks a Japanese garden; a setting chosen to help the restaurant satisfy its aim of stimulating all 5 of your senses with every bite you take.
Serving food from the Shojin Ryori (AKA Japanese Buddhist) culinary style, all their dishes are vegetarian and vegan friendly, meaning that if you want to enjoy the finest entirely meat-free dining experience money can buy, Daigo restaurant is somewhere you must aim to visit.
Joia is a vegetarian restaurant based in the Italian city of Milan.
A restaurant rich in history and pedigree, Joia was the first vegetarian restaurant in Europe to ever receive a Michelin star.
Focusing on vegetarian cuisine ever since opening in 1989, Joia quickly attracted international renown, becoming one of the most influential vegetarian restaurants in the world, and winning a Michelin star in 1996, which it has retained ever since.
The restaurant is generally presented in an understated and intimate style, which lets the food do the talking, although mementos of owner Pietro Leemann’s international travels are present in the form of artwork and sculptures created by different cultures across Asia.
With a two course lunchtime menu plus drink costing just €12.50, Joia is also a very affordable option for those seeking a vegetarian dining experience of exceptional quality.
4) Fu He Hui
Fu He Hui is a vegetarian restaurant located in Shanghai, China.
Boasting one Michelin star, Fu He Hui takes diners through a tour of China’s finest, most exotic fungi in a calm, serene, Zen-like setting. Artfully presented dishes are served alongside four different Chinese teas, all of which complement the food.
Owner Fang Yuan has drawn on his own Buddhist ideology, as well as his own personal collection of antiques to create a wonderfully tranquil venue amidst the hustle and bustle of central Shanghai.
Featuring Ming and Qing dynasty furniture and art pieces worthy of a museum, the restaurant uses a neutral colour palette of earthy and grey tones, featuring lots of stone, wood and fabrics.
A fairly large venue, Fu He Hui seats 90 guests and offers 11 private rooms, two gargantuan VIP rooms and a main dining hall on each of the three storeys.
In 2015, just a year after opening its doors, Fu He Hui was named the 19th best restaurant in Asia, becoming the highest new entry in that year’s list. Over recent years, it has maintained a high ranking and a reputation for outstanding cuisine, being named the 29th best restaurant in Asia in the 2019 list.
Itosho is a small and intimate one Michelin star restaurant in Tokyo, which serves a menu consisting entirely of vegetarian and vegan food.
Similarly to Daigo, Itosho is a Shojin Ryori (i.e. Buddhist cusine) restaurant which puts calm and peacefulness right at the centre of the dining experience. Life slows down as you sit amongst the tatami mats, wooden beams, pillars and shoji screens, giving you time to properly appreciate the food and the very gracious hospitality.
Itosho has been open since 1960, changing little over that time, and for many years was regarded as a well-kept secret in the Asian fine-dining world, but its profile has deservedly risen over recent years, and it has come to be known as one of the finest culinary experiences Tokyo has to offer.
Owner-chef Hiroharu Ito has been in charge of the restaurant for most of its existence, and still to this day he greets his guests and describes the dishes to them.
Chef Ito’s signature dish is called shojin-age, and it consists of 6 deep-fried vegetables and tofu, with a coating of tiny ‘pebbles’ made of mochi flour. A little bit of salt is provided to dab each piece in. This dish is always on the menu at Itosho, albeit with different vegetables depending on the season and availability.
Tian is a one Michelin star restaurant based in Vienna. Apart from being completely vegetarian, the menu also boasts only seasonal ingredients from regional suppliers.
The restaurant serves artfully constructed and beautifully presented food provided in either 4, 6, 8 or 10 course meals, while also offering a very well-regarded wine list, which contains a wide and ever growing selection of organic wines. Their own, home-made alcohol free drinks are also available to try, so whatever you’d like to use to wash down their sophisticated and flavourful food, you’re in for a treat.
If you’re vegan or following a gluten-free diet, then Tian have you covered too, with plenty of options available to suit your requirements. So no matter what your culinary preferences are, Tian offers an inclusive, welcoming environment where almost all of your preferences can be catered too…unless you want to eat meat of course!
Kajitsu is another Shojin Ryori (i.e. Japanese Buddhist) restaurant, but one that is situated a long way from Japan, as it can be found in the American city of New York.
A one Michelin star restaurant, Kajitsu, like other Shojin Ryori restaurants, serve an entirely vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu. No meat, fish, eggs, or dairy are present at all, and the sheer quality of the food being served means you won’t miss them at all.
The restaurant is designed according to the Buddhist principles of calmness and peace, offering an oasis of tranquillity among the hustle and bustle of central New York.
Chef Hiroki Abe’s food is arranged in carefully fashioned compositions that reflect and celebrate nature, while the traditional decorations and antique ceramics (some being over 200 years old) help to further this haven of balance and harmony amid the chaos of fast-paced big city life.
Nix is another one Michelin star vegetarian restaurant in New York.
Residents of that city are spoilt for choice when it comes to top-quality vegetarian restaurants, it would seem! Much of the menu has vegan options too, meaning those who abstain from animal produce entirely will also find much to savour.
Rounding off the inclusivity, many gluten-free options are available too.
Soft lighting and sensual design complement a menu that is both health-conscious and pleasure-driven, while an extensive and imaginative cocktail list, which has clearly had a lot of thought put into it, is available. The menu itself is divided into two distinct sections, offering ‘lighter’ or ‘bolder’ courses, depending on what kind of meal you want to eat.
Chef-owner John Fraser is joined as a proprietor by James Truman, the former editorial director of mass media company Conde Nast.
Truman’s unusual and risky career change could have seen him fall flat on his face, but the acclaim, popularity and of the course, the Michelin star, which Nix has received since opening its doors in February 2016 means that his gamble has been very worthwhile indeed, to the extent that Nix thoroughly deserves its place on our list of the 10 best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the world.
9) Gauthier Soho
Truth be told, we’re looking into the near future here a bit.
The Gauthier Soho is a restaurant based in London which serves modern French cuisine. At the moment, the restaurant still includes some meat in its menu, serving turbot and pigeon amongst other things, but Chef-owner Alexis Gauthier is a proud and passionate convert to veganism, who over the coming months, plans to banish meat from the restaurant forever.
Gauthier’s commitment to the cause is such that in 2018, he gave a 30-minute speech at the National Restaurant Congress in which he told fellow chefs that veganism is no longer a ‘fad’, and that anyone who saw it that way was a ‘dinosaur, living in denial’.
A range of vegan alternatives to popular meat products, such as ‘faux gras’ and a non-meat burger which ‘bleeds’ has also been developed by Gauthier, cementing his reputation as a pioneer of vegan-based fine dining.
His Gauthier Soho restaurant is spread across 3 floors of a regency townhouse, and was awarded a Michelin star in 2011, just one year after opening.
Unfortunately, the restaurant lost its Michelin star status in 2012, and has yet to get it back, although the standard of food served is still extremely high, and its continued absence from the list of Michelin starred restaurants has been described as ‘baffling‘.
Meanwhile, the esteem which Alexis Gauthier is held in was demonstrated by him featuring as the special guest in a vegan-focused episode of Masterchef, while he also appeared as a guest judge on an earlier episode of the programme, and on an edition of its spin-off show, Masterchef: The Professionals.
10) Lucky Leek
Lucky Leek is a vegan restaurant based in Berlin, Germany.
As opposed to restaurants which have vegan options, or make allowances for vegans, Lucky Leek is 100% vegan-based, meaning this is one of those rare fine-dining restaurants where vegans can feel right at home. Gluten-free options are also available for those who require them.
Since opening in 2011, Lucky Leek has served gourmet vegan cuisine, bringing a refined, upmarket approach to plant-based food, which has seen it thrive and garner international acclaim.
Chef-owner Josita Hartanto has created excellent vegan versions of popular animal-product foods such as beef and cheese. These vegan substitutes are used throughout the courses served at Lucky Leek, and diners frequently comment on how delicious they are, with many people remarking that they taste better than the ‘real thing’ could ever do.
The restaurant serves meals in either 3 or 5 courses, allowing you to choose how much of their menu you would like to try.
As of 2019, Lucky Leek has not been awarded a Michelin star, but it has been given Michelin’s Bib Gourmand award that recognises excellent quality food at a great value price. A winning combination for sure!
That completes our list of the 10 best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the world! If you’ve found this guide interesting or valuable, please help us out by sharing it on social media.
Caterquip are the largest supplier of second hand catering equipment in the UK. Some of the products Caterquip provide include Bratt Pans, Stainless Steel Tables, Reconditioned Dishwashers, Rational Ovens, Blast Chillers, Pass Through Dishwashers and more. This blog post was written by Alex at New Frontiers Marketing.