Traveling as a vegetarian isn’t impossible, and it doesn’t have to be such a difficult thing. If you have already been a vegetarian for a while and you are used to going out and eating veggie-friendly foods at restaurants then you can definitely find vegetarian food abroad.
After a month of travel I’ve picked up a few tips that helped me remain a vegetarian while studying abroad. Here are some of those tips:
Cook Whenever Possible
If you have access to a kitchen and a local market then use it. It’s so much easier to cook vegetarian dishes in a kitchen than it is to find ready-made vegetarian dishes abroad. You know exactly what’s in your food (because you put it there) and you also save money in the process.
Learn The Translation Of “Vegetarian” But Know That You Have To Explain Yourself
Some waiters and chefs will know that if you call yourself a vegetarian that you don’t eat any meat, but many do not. It’s best if you memorize several phrases explaining what you don’t eat so that you won’t wind up with a plate of fish a chicken broth. Obviously it helps to know the entire language, but if you have the important basics down, and you can spot and recognize the translations of meats on menus, then you can fair pretty well eating abroad. Use
Happy Cow is an amazing website that also has a smartphone app that you can use to find vegetarian restaurants. It’s compiled of reviews from its users all over the world and it covers a lot of vegetarian restaurants. It’s a God-sent for vegans and vegetarians abroad and it can help you find vegetarian-friendly dishes even in non-vegetarian restaurants ahead of time. You can also use sites such as the Lonely Planet thorntree forum or a Couchsurfing group to contact other traveling vegetarians for advice.
If There’s Nothing Available Then Make A Request
If there are absolutely no dishes available without meat in them, and you want a little more than vegetables as a side, then you can try asking for a dish without prepared without the meat. The majority of waiters and chefs are completely fine with helping you out if you ask nicely.
Don’t Freak Out Keep calm when trying to find veggie-friendly foods and be open to try local vegetarian foods that you may not be used to. Distancing yourself from the meat-eating locals and panicking about where your next meal will come from will only bring down your experience of traveling abroad. Don’t sweat it if you run into snags or if people think you are crazy for being a vegetarian.
You can plan ahead, but ultimately you just have to do the best you can. I do recommend, however, that people who are thinking about becoming a vegetarian wait till they are in a place that there familiar with and where they can speak the language. Becoming a vegetarian is a process that can be a little frustrating at first, and adding on the stress of travel won’t help the transition go any smoother. But those who have been living as vegetarians before they began traveling, eating abroad is totally doable and a very interesting learning experience that you should definitely try.
For more meal ideas check out my book, “The Beginners Guide to Becoming a Vegetarian,” on Amazon.