Eating out while on vacation can be a bit of a nightmare when your culinary tastes run towards a green and leafy vegetarian diet as opposed to a medium rare steak.
It can be difficult enough working out what’s safe for you to eat when you’re in your own country, so language barriers and an incomprehension (yes, there are still areas of the world that have no idea that people who don’t eat meat exist) of vegetarianism can make things twice as difficult when you’re abroad.
In reality, there are very few areas of the world where there is a true lack of vegetarian food options (though Central Asia, Germany, and Argentina aren’t the best places for you to go if you want to be sure that you won’t accidentally ingest a bit of meat).
However, there are countries that offer a greater level of choice for vegetarian culinary enthusiasts than others do.
So if you can save a great deal of money on your flight with a flight comparison site or through my Plan Your Trip page, then check out some of these options that may peak your interest and help get your foodie grub on!
Vegetarian foodie destinations
We all know about Italian cuisine – it’s exquisite wherever you go in the country and the beauty of it is that only a relatively small part of it is based around meat.
Pizza and pasta, the two dishes the country is best-known for, can easily be ordered to arrive without meat, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Italian bread, like ciabatta, is incredible on its own and can be made better with the addition of chopped tomatoes, basil and olive oil.
Be wary of cheese, though – most Italian cheeses are made with rennet (obtained from the stomach lining of young buffaloes), so double-check food packaging or ask a waiter before eating any.
Even in places like Las Vegas, Nevada and New York City you can find people who make fresh Italian meals similar like that of what they would find in their homeland. Either way, Italian cuisine, no matter where you are in the world, is amongst the best food you can treat yourself to!
Although there are certain countries that you’re going to want to rule out of any trip in the Middle East (like Syria and Iraq), areas in certain countries like Israel and Lebanon continue to pull in tourists, and a good deal of their appeal has to do with their food.
Kebabs are great for meat-eaters (and they’re obviously better in their birthplace than on any high street in England) but vegetarians are even better catered for with pitta bread, hummus, falafel (made from chickpeas and fava beans), cool salads, lemon and yogurt dressing, stuffed grape leaves, eggplant and so on.
The list of food suitable for vegetarians is almost endless, and there’s no shortage of things to do either.
West Coast of the USA
The West Coast is one of the more inclusive parts of the US in terms of cuisine, away from the barbeque bonanza of the South and Mid-West areas. San Francisco and Portland, Oregon are your best bets for vegetarian fare if you fancy a West Coast road trip.
San Fran has hosted the annual World Vegetarian Festival for over a decade – vegetarianism is embedded in the city’s culture (or counterculture), stemming from its days as a hippie hotspot in the Sixties and Seventies, and there are a plethora of options available.
Portland is a young, sustainably-minded city which is a veggie paradise with everything from veggie-specific restaurants to veggie-specific bars with vegan drinks. Now that’s taking it seriously!
Southeast Asia & India
Anywhere in Southeast Asia as well as India, in general, is a good place to visit if you’re concerned about maintaining your vegetarian principles because of its high number of devoutly religious residents whose beliefs often restrict them from eating either some meats or all meats.
However, the south of India is where you’ll find the best vegetarian cuisine in meals like thali (comprised of a number of small dishes like chutney, rice, papad, and dal) and snacks like dosa (a rice and lentil pancake that can be served with various wet and dry garnishes).
When it comes to Southeast Asia, the large amounts of markets will provide a shmorgishborg of opportunities to dine on fresh veggies, fruit, seafood and other shellfish (providing your diet will allow you to dine on a fish or two.
The sheer amount of options on offer means that you’ll be far from starved when you visit this part of the world.
Because of its largely Buddhist population, Taiwan should be high on your list of vegetarian options when booking your next holiday.
Though schools of thought differ with regard to Buddhist carnivorous principles, lay followers in Taiwan generally stay away from animal products, meaning that there are, by necessity, over 6,000 restaurants, cafes, street vendors and so on that exclusively offer vegetarian food to natives and visitors.
Try some of the noodle bowls of fresh rice with pickled radish and gravy or a piece of sun cake, layered puff pastry with a sweet honey or molasses center.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of places to visit if you’re concerned about the menus on offer, but it’s important that you’re not put off visiting anywhere because you’re concerned about the food you might have to eat – there are options everywhere if you look hard enough!
These are just a few ideas to get you started. The world’s your oyster! Well, not unless you let yourself eat seafood, that is…
Where have you found your favorite vegetarian dishes while traveling in a new destination?