The best countries to visit if you’re vegetarian revealed

Joanna Whitehead
Fruit and vegetables

Switzerland has come top in a survey of the best European countries to be a vegetarian, while Portugal is ranked as the worst.

The study, conducted by comparison site The Eco Experts, looked at how easy it is to be a herbivore in 26 European countries.

Countries were ranked based on the number of vegetarian-friendly restaurants per 100,000 people; annual meat consumption per person; and the average price of 1kg of meat.

Home to the world’s first ever vegetarian restaurant, Hiltl, which opened in 1898, Switzerland is a pioneer in the field of meat-free food.

Meat in Switzerland is the most expensive in Europe (£24.97 per kg), reducing the cost incentive to eat meat. Almost half of 15 to 34-year-olds in the country are estimated to have completely stopped eating meat or to have significantly limited the amount they consume.

With the fourth highest meat consumption in Europe, Portugal is the worst place in Europe for those avoiding meat. Famous for its piri piri chicken, Portugal also has a limited number of vegetarian-friendly restaurants on offer. The country came 15th for the cost of meat, meaning there’s little economic incentive to switch to a plant-based diet.

Finland, Norway and Sweden are second, third and fourth respectively in the survey, reinforcing the Nordic countries’ forward-thinking and eco-conscious reputation.

The UK was named the fifth best place for those preferring a plant-based diet, ranking highly for the sheer volume of vegetarian-friendly eateries available.

Research published last month suggests that 7 per cent of British people now identify as vegan, with environmental concerns being the motivating factor for most converts.

Professor Carolyn Roberts, who supported the findings, believes that a shift in diet may be more environmentally beneficial than other eco-friendly efforts, such as reducing petrol and diesel car usage.

“From farm to fork and beyond, food accounts for about 20 per cent of all our greenhouse emissions,” she said.

“Estimates suggest that if all of our meat eaters switched to a vegan diet, it would roughly halve total greenhouse gas emissions associated with food.”

The 10 best places to be vegetarian in Europe

1. Switzerland

2. Finland

3. Norway

4. Sweden

5. United Kingdom

6. Belgium

7. Hungary

8. Italy

9. Estonia

10. Ireland

The 10 worst places to be vegetarian in Europe

1. Portugal

2. Denmark

3. Lithuania

4. Russia

5. Greece

6. Croatia

7. Ukraine

8. France

9. Bulgaria

10. Poland