Ethiopian food can be extremely vegan friendly, but it depends on the restaurant. Traditionally the meals are served family-style, with several large dollops of various entrees placed atop a giant pancake. This pancake is called injera, and it’s made from a sour fermented batter of ground up teff grains and water. You tear off pieces of the injera and use it to take a portion of one of the entrees.
If you’re familiar with Indian food, you will likely recognize that injera is the counterpart of dosas, which is a similarly sour pancake made from a fermented batter of ground lentils. But injera bread is thicker, spongier, and substantially more filling than dosa crepes. In fact, injera may be the most filling food you’ll ever eat, since it seems to expand in your stomach.
Injera is always vegan. Most Ethiopian restaurant menus are about evenly divided between meat-based and vegetarian entrees. Whether those vegetarian entrees are vegan depends primarily on the restaurant’s choice of oils. Tradition calls for a clarified butter (ghee) taken from yaks. But since that’s hard to get, and butter is also expensive, many Ethiopian restaurants use vegetable oil and are therefore quite vegan friendly.
If you want to try your hand at Ethiopian cooking, you’re in luck—a terrific vegan cookbook called Teff Loveis entirely devoted to this cuisine.