I feel that when people say a country is good for veganism, they are talking purely about the diet. When I think about a place being good for veganism, I’m thinking about the entire lifestyle, meaning the preservation and protection of animals, the environment and the health of their people. The US is a perfect example of the contradiction of calling it good for veganism…


Before I get lambasted by comments attacking me about singling out the US and not acknowledging something in particular, I wanted to briefly expand on my meaning. When I consider a nation progressive towards vegan values, I am talking about every angle of veganism.

Sure, the US is probably at the forefront of advancements in junk food for vegans and it’s never been easier for a wider range of people to be vegan, but in terms of environmental policies, laws being created and more importantly, enforcing those laws, and other important topics vegans care about, the US sucks. I don’t consider a country to be progressive towards veganism while the circus still exists, renewable energy isn’t being accepted or is actively being pushed back. I also don’t believe any country that supports bullfighting in any way, much less being subsidised by the government, can be considered good for veganism.

Actually, the US is the ONLY country in the world to pull out of the Paris agreement, refusing to contribute to tackling climate change, which is especially dire considering with animal agriculture and transport, they are one of the worst contributors to it.

Not only that, but if veganism encapsulates the health, liberties and freedoms of ALL living beings, the US is the only country in the developed world to not offer universal healthcare. Plus they have the highest rate per capita of incarcerated citizens (excluding Seychelles which incarcerates Somali pirates). Added to the whole police state, brutality situation that’s going on right now, the fact that the current administration is reversing policies protecting wildlife, national parks, endangered species etc, in terms of progression, the US is one of the worst places for veganism. I won’t deny that the ease of finding vegan ice cream really soothes my feelings towards the US.

Now, this isn’t supposed to be an article pointing out what the US sucks at, I do feel like that sets up my article well, because I’m not just looking at the food, which so many of the articles I’ve seen on “Where’s best to live as a vegan” seem to do. If you google that phrase, I guarantee I could guess at least 3 of the places that come up.

Portland, Oregon | Los Angeles, Califoria | Toronto, Canada | Melbourne, Australia

Sure, all of these are great options for food, but Portland and L.A as covered above is the US. Canada is a country with the economy being built on the ravaging of the environment, which is something I never paid attention to before actually going there. The Australian government have actively worked against Sea Sherpherd in the protection of illegal Japanese whalers who are killing hordes of whales in Australian waters. These are just a few of the things that vegans would not support and things I am going to consider during this article.

I, of course recognise that there have been positives coming out of these countries, especially the activism scene in the US, Canada and Australia being some of the strongest and most active, however in terms of what has been put into law by government, it’s a different story. Hopefully by seeing the level of protection the following countries have in place it should be a good guide on the next steps that lagging governments can implement. No country is perfect and even the countries on this list have a ton of work to do, but here’s where we are so far.

EDITED: Since starting the research on this topic, I will be writing an article spotlighting single countries in an ongoing segment entitled “How vegan is my country?”. This includes the countries in this article, seeing as this is meant to be a more brief overview of how good a particular country is.

The following information provided is only a fraction of what may actually be in place in the countries. I just picked some of the things that stood out to me, or that I thought was important to share. It’s not exhaustive and there could be a piece of legislation or information that is even larger in scope, or degree of protection for animals that I may have missed.

Not only that, but it should really go without saying that no country has banned animals being farmed for food. I’m looking at the progress they have made in both legislation and actual measures put in place.


Whilst Costa Rica aren’t perfect and their track record for allowing the deforestation of their land, which is especially bad because while the country only covers 0.01% of the total land of the earth, it’s believed to be home to 5-6% of the worlds biodiversity. Source

They have a way to go (but so do so many countries) with their animal protection laws, by expanding the circle of protected animals to farm yard animals too, however what really lands them on my list is their environmental policies and social policies. I regularly see articles crop up about Costa Rica doing something innovative towards the environment whether it’s to do with banning materials which aren’t biodegradable (single use plastics) or use of renewable energy. Not only that, but in terms of developing as a nation, they abolished their military and put their funding into things like infrastructure and education.

While there has been a lot of conflict going on in South America for decades, Costa Rica has managed to flourish and maintain peace. I also may be a tiny bit biased, because I love sloths and there is a sloth sanctuary there, but who can really know if that affected my choice.

Animal Welfare/Protective Legislation

Costa Rica became the first nation to ban hunting as a sport (Although it’s permitted to indigenous populations and some scientific testing). Not perfect, but still pretty huge for a country with such diverse wildlife. Source

They have introduced sentences and harsh punishments for those who abuse or kill domestic animals. Source

Regulations are being put in place to protect wildlife being used for selfies. Source

Environmental Policies

Created an initiative to ban single use plastics by 2021. Source

Due to the Green Macaw almost isolating the Almendro Amarillo tree as their main nesting choice. One recent law, prohibits the cutting down of this tree which is in high demand with the lumber industry. Source


In 2017, they ran for 300 days on renewable energy combined from sources such as hydro power, geothermal, wind, solar and biomass. Source. This isn’t the first time they’ve done it too, in 2015 they went 299, and 2016 they managed 271 days.


One of the national dishes of Costa Rica, which is Gallo Pinto, is naturally vegan. I’d say that makes for a fairly good start in the food arena. While rice and beans is a staple in Costa Rica, vegan food as a whole isn’t that popular in terms of junk foods, but you can fairly easily get your staples. See this article as a fairly good guide to the food portion of Costa Rica.


Firstly, I wanted to say that all the Nordic countries do incredibly well when we consider environmental policies. Norway, Finland, or Denmark may or may not be better than Sweden, but I’m not working on any kind of official ranking/grading system. I can find the most information about Sweden and their policies which leads me to believe that theirs are the best.

According to this source Sweden ranked #1 for caring about the environment in 2017.

Animal Welfare/Protective Legislation

While cosmetics testing on animals was banned by the EU in 2009, this did not prohibit the sale of goods tested on animals from outside the EU. Sweden, however made a stand against this. Source

On the world animal protection site Sweden get a B rank for animal welfare, with only the UK, Austria, New Zealand and Switzerland being ahead of them. See here for more on that.

I’m not sure how to feel about this document seeing as there is no way to tell how well enforcing the rules is going, also as with all legislation there are loopholes in all sorts of places which could be exploited. I haven’t seen much of what’s written in this document in plenty of other countries official documents on welfare of animals. According to this article Sweden have some of the strongest control measures to make sure the laws are followed.

Environmental Policies

Sweden’s recycling policies and processes put into place are so good that they’ve ran out of recycling and now earn money for taking it from other countries. Who said that there is no money in being green?! Take that, corporate stooges! Apparently less than 1% of household waste is sent to landfill. Source

On the subject of environmentally friendly cars, the amount in Sweden is only increasing, see here. While we’re on the subject of Nordics and electric cars, see this video to understand why you see electric car use growing in Norway. I suspect it would be similar in the other Nordics.

Sweden has adopted a district heating and cooling system, along with passive homes, which has decreased their emissions from keeping buildings warm or cool. It’s allowed them to refocus energy and be more efficient in their energy use in general. Source 1Source 2.


Over 50% of the energy needs of Sweden have been met by renewables see here, and they are on target to phase non renewables out by 2040. Source


“Urban farming in allotment gardens has long been a popular pastime among Swedes, in many corners of the country. Residents share a piece of land cultivated into gardens where they grow fruits and vegetables.” – Source

10% of the population being vegan or vegetarian. Source

From searching various blogs, I’ve found that in general the attitude towards accomodating vegans is a much warmer reception in Sweden and vegetarians have an easy job. Less so for vegans in terms of what you’ll find on the menu, but when trying to make alterations, they are more happy to do it for you. This blog post along with the video was a nice read and gave me re-assurance.


Not only does Switzerland rank fairly highly in terms of caring for the environment, they have some of the most stringent measures in place to protect animals.

Animal Welfare/Protective Legislation

The animal welfare act in Switzerland appears to be one of the strongest, with sections covering animal husbandry, experiments, transport, slaughter and other parts of what happens to animals. See it here.

“Swiss laws already make it illegal to keep fish or any other naturally social animals isolated from others of their own species (no more lonely fish in bowls)” – Source

Each year in Zurich, a government-paid “animal lawyer” represents between 150 and 200 animals whose rights have been violated in some way. Cases range from a woman with 149 cats to an incident involving an angler who kept a fish dangling on the line for too long. Source

Environmental Policies

Switzerland are constantly investing in cleaning their air and improving the quality of their air. One of the more recent investments include a machine that sucks carbon directly out of the air. Source

The Swiss consider controlling the high quality of water a national responsibility. Source

Other key aspects of environmental protection in Switzerland, see here.


 Swiss voters backed the government’s plan to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, ban new nuclear plants and help bail out struggling utilities in a binding referendum on Sunday. Source


Even in typically non vegan cities, veganism is growing. See this blog post for a good guide on Geneva’s vegan foods.

“Although vegan gastronomy is not very established in Switzerland yet, restaurants will generally try to accommodate you. If, however, you don’t inform yourself about vegan options in advance, you could end up with a mere salad and steamed vegetables.” – Source


I’ve been to Austria, but that was back before my vegan days and I paid no attention to much of anything back then. What I did remember is the difference in moving from Vienna to Bratislava on the train. It’s less than a 2 hour train ride (possibly) and the difference is HUGE. Austria is remarkably clean, so much so that you don’t even realise it until you go elsewhere.

On the way in to Bratislava (to the train station) there is rubbish and all sorts of other environmental mess and when you arrive at the train station it’s like you’re watching taken. Scary eastern European taxi drivers chain smoking and no English anywhere, at least that’s how I remember things. I will say that when you actually get into Bratislava (about 20 minutes bus from the train station) it’s beautiful and very clean and I loved it there (it was my favourite city in central Europe). I thought this little anecdote was interesting in reflection, now that I’m doing an article on this sort of thing.

Animal Welfare/Protective Legislation

Again, like Switzerland, the welfare standards are some of the strongest. Read up on them here. With that being said, in Austria, the protection of animals is not a nation-wide law, there are different laws in the federal countries of Austria.

Every animal must be accommodated, fed and cared for with consideration for its type, level of development, of adaptation and of domestication, corresponding to its physiological and behavioural needs in accordance with established experience and scientific knowledge. Link

Environmental Policies

“Austria is one of the leading countries in Europe in the field of environmental policy. This was not only recognized by the OECD in its report on the environmental situation in its member countries; the report of the EU Commission on the accession of Austria, Sweden and Finland also clearly showed that environmental standards within the European Union were substantially improved due to the accession of these three new Member States.” Source


All electricity in Austria’s largest state now produced from renewables. Source

At present, more than 670 run-of-river power plants and some 1,800 small-scale hydropower stations are in operation, which generate approx. 60% of Austria’s electricity needs. Austria is number one in Europe when it comes to utilizing hydropower. Source

This link in particular I found interesting given that several who are pro-coal anti-green are firmly of the position that there is both no jobs and money in the green energy sector.


I’ve found a guide on Austrian vegan food which was a good read, there’s quite the variety in my opinion, according to the author it’s only growing with more places popping up. See here.

In 2013, according to this study, 9% of the population were either vegan or vegetarian. With the rise we’ve seen in veganuary, that’s bound to be inaccurate now, likely in the 10-15% range, though I can’t find a recent study.

By |2018-04-29T10:13:06+00:00February 14th, 2018|Categories: Blog Post, Spotlight Article|0 Comments

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