Indonesia ranked as one of the most vegetarian-friendly countries in the world in travel index

Mmmmh, vegan nasi campur with some extra fried tempe on the side, Yes, please! Photo: @sojahaussetia / Instagram
Mmmmh, vegan nasi campur with some extra fried tempe on the side, Yes, please! Photo: @sojahaussetia / Instagram

Indonesian cuisine has plenty of vegetarian options for those eschewing meat for ethical or health reasons, with tofu and tempe (glorious tempe) being staple proteins of many local diets and superb veggie-centric delights like peanut sauce smothered gado-gado and meaty gudeg (made from unripe jackfruit and coconut milk) considered to be amongst the country’s most iconic dishes.

But vegetarianism as a lifestyle choice is still something of a novelty in Indonesia (vegetarians here often joke that when they tell people they don’t eat meat, a common response is “don’t worry, we have fish”) so we were pleasantly surprised to see Indonesia ranked near the top of the new Global Vegetarian Index released by Oliver’s Travels at #16.

Graphic: Oliver’s Travels Global Vegetarian Index

The travel website put the index together in honor of October being World Vegetarian Month and to help vegetarian adventurers in planning their future trips. It’s based on three metrics: number of vegetarian restaurants, number of vegetarian restaurants in relation to population size and annual meat consumption per capita.

According to the index, Indonesia has 438 vegetarian restaurants (though we’d have to guess the vast majority of those are located in Ubud) and an annual meat consumption of 11.6 kg per capita (about 1/10th that 111.5 kg of meat your average Australian eats per year, which probably explains how Indonesia managed to beat The Land Down Under by one ranking).

The data used to determine the number of vegetarian restaurants per country comes from HappyCow.net, the world’s leading vegetarian and vegan restaurant listings website, but still we find some of those numbers hard to swallow (there are only 697 vegetarian restaurants in all of India, really?).

But the data on per capita meat consumption is pretty solid and shows that your average Indonesian is getting way more of his calories from plant-based sources than people in most other countries (yes, rice is technically a plant!).

Do you think that Indonesia is truly a vegetarian-friendly country or is this index full of baloney? Let us know in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “Indonesia ranked as one of the most vegetarian-friendly countries in the world in travel index

  1. I’ve spend quite a while in Indonesia (living and traveling). And compared to Germany it’s not super vegetarian friendly. There are places which are for sure, like Ubud on Bali where are numerous vegetarian restaurants. But on the other side there are many cities in Indonesia where it’s pretty hard to find a good variety of vegetarian dishes in restaurants. Yes people don’t eat big amounts of meat. But there are so many dishes which wouldn’t require meat but people put shrimp paste, chicken broth, chicken flavour, tiny fishes etc. etc. And the people love chicken so much. Often it feels like 90% of the food on the street is with chicken (ayam).
    So somehow it’s vegetarian friendly, but especially outside of tourist areas it can be pretty complicated to find vegetarian food. The good thing is that the people are mostly friendly enough to make something vegetarian on request. So especially if you can speak bahasa indonesia, then a lot is possible!

  2. Of course we are vegetarian friendly! Our traditional food is not only gado2x, tahu, tempe as your article mention! We have ketoprak, karedok, asinan buah, asinan sayur betawi/sundanese style, all kind of veggie inggredient cook, such as sayur daun singkong, sayur daun pepaya, menado style, sumatran style you name it! Our variety of veggie delicacies are extremely rich. You just have to know where to find it because vegetarian resto exclusively are rare in my country. But you can choose the vegetarian menu from padang resto, menado resto, & some resto that sold not only 1 region type of food…. We have abundance resto like that!

  3. This is nonsense unfortunately. Many food halls and restaurants in malls have nothing for vegetarians. Apart from gado gado, which after several servings loses it’s charm. Jakarta is meat heaven and vegetarian hell.

  4. Wow one of the most vegetarian friendly?
    Well yes, considering numbers of variety of veggies and having the luxury of tempeh tofu provided but.. Like how many percent of vegetarian or vegan dishes is available in restaurants. . This may not be included in the report nor the considered factors to call Indonesia as one. I hardly find vegan dishes at restaurants, I may want to call it 5 to 10% of general restaurants menu are vegan. They at least use Royco and such. Even 5 star hotel uses Knorr on vegetable-only-dish. I think the understanding about what and why vegetarian or vegan in this country is just too difficult to be absorbed by mostly ignorant people here.
    -here’s my saying-

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