Vegetarian Traveller Food Experiences
I have been a vegetarian traveller for close to 15 years now and I have been travelling ever since I was a baby. One of the questions I keep getting asked as a vegetarian is how do I manage to find vegetarian fare while on the move. It is not easy always. But it has definitely gotten easier over the years to find vegetarian food around the world. In this post, I write about vegetarian travel tips / vegan travel tips, my favorite vegetarian food experiences as well as about the different types of vegetarian travelers.
Ultimate Vegetarian Food Guide Contents
Latest Posts | Why am I a Vegetarian? | Vegetarian Travel Around the World | Types of Vegetarians | Tips for travelling around the world as a vegetarian | My favorite Vegetarian friendly countries | Alcohol and Vegetarian Tips | My favorite foodie experiences | Recommended Vegetarian Tours | More Resources Conclusion
Read Some of My Latest Vegetarian Traveller posts
This is a question I get asked all the time. Have you been a vegetarian traveller all your life? Or did you decide to go vegetarian because you thought it was good for the environment? So before I answer all these questions, let me give you a small background about myself. I was born to parents who come from two different food cultures. My dad was born to strict vegetarians while my mom was used to eating non-vegetarian food all her life. This meant that growing up, non-vegetarian food was cooked in our house at least once a week.
When I moved to India for my engineering, I ended up staying with my dad’s parents who were vegetarians. We were not allowed to eat non-vegetarian at home but they didn’t mind if we ate outside the home. I used to be a frequent visitor at my bestie’s place and her mom used to cook us some delicious prawn dishes.
The real reason I stopped eating non-vegetarian food is when I started having some Ayurveda medication. You are generally advised not to eat non-vegetarian food for the medications to work. Even though it was a temporary 6-month course, I continued practising vegetarianism and have been on a vegetarian diet since then. My entire family turned vegetarian back then to support me and both my sisters like me are still vegetarians to this day. Many people ask me if I will return back to my old eating habits and the answer is that I haven’t felt the urge to turn in the past 15 years.
So what can you expect from this guide? I know there are many Indians who only eat Indian vegetarian meals when they are travelling as well. I know you must have come here hoping that you will find some tips on how to carry Indian vegetarian snacks when you are travelling outside India. I have nothing respect for people like that who continue to travel in spite of having many cultural as well as religious food preferences. However, for me, part of my travel experience is food and that is why I continue trying to taste different types of vegetarian food in the world while travelling as a vegetarian. I have been to more than 25 + countries as a vegetarian and I haven’t gone hungry till date. Also, there are approximately 10% of the world population who are vegans or vegetarians and due to this, it is not that difficult to find vegetarian dishes in most countries anymore. Another reason I don’t like eating Indian vegetarian food outside India is that I feel the taste levels do not match up to the standards of the same dishes cooked in India.
I wrote a book about all the places you can go to Europe and information to find vegetarian food in Europe. Check out my book for more details.
Before we go any further, let us discuss the different types of vegetarian choices people have. I think it is crucial to determine what kind of a vegetarian are you. So here are some of the common types of vegetarians:
- Lacto Ovo Vegetarians: Let us first start with the kind of vegetarian I am. I don’t eat red or white meat, seafood and fowl. However, I consume both eggs as well as dairy products. Hence this vegetarian guide will mostly focus on the Lacto Ovo vegetarian diet. Also, this is considered to be the most popular kind of vegetarian diet. In India, we are called as eggetarians.
- Lacto Vegetarians: There is only one difference between this kind of vegetarians and the Lacto Ovo vegetarians. They don’t consume egg products but do consume dairy products. If someone in India tells you that they are a pure vegetarian (Shudh vegetarian), this is the kind of vegetarian they are referring to.
- Ovo Vegetarians: This group of people do not eat meat, seafood, fowl or dairy products. However, they do consume egg products.
- Vegans: Vegans don’t eat red meat, white meat, seafood, fowl, dairy or eggs. Basically, they don’t consume any animal products or by-products. Hence they also don’t consume products like honey, gelatin, beeswax etc. Due to the rise in the number of people turning vegan, there have been substantial improvements when it comes to vegan food/vegan travel.
- Beegans: Very similar to Vegans. However, this group does consume honey.
- Pescatarian: I have been asked countless types if I eat fish when I tell people that I am a vegetarian. This is because, in many parts of the western world, Pescatarians are considered to be vegetarians. They do not eat meat or fowl. However, they do eat seafood, dairy and egg products.
- Flexitarian: My husband is a Flexitarian and that is why I have included this in the list. He is a vegetarian most of the time. However, he does consume poultry once in a few months especially when he is travelling outside India.
- Jain Vegetarian: This is a kind of vegetarianism that is found only in the Indian subcontinent and is based on the religion of Jainism. In addition, to be Lacto vegetarians, this group of people also don’t consume any underground vegetables like onions, garlic, mushrooms or potato. They believe that the uprooting of any vegetables also leads to the death of underground insects and tiny organisms. My ancestors from my dad’s side belong to this group of vegetarians. Even though traditionally they used to consume dairy products, many of the modern Jains don’t consume dairy products as well. Since many of the outbound Indian travellers follow this kind of vegetarianism, you will see ‘Jain food’ as one of the features of foreign tour packages from India.
Now that we have differentiated between the various types of vegetarians, let me give you some important tips for vegetarian travellers.
As a frequent traveller, these are some of my go-to vegetarian travel tips:
- Google and Happy Cow are two of my favorite resources to find veggie-friendly restaurants when I am travelling. Go to Google and type ‘Vegetarian restaurants near me’ and the closest veggie spots to you will pop up. Additionally, you can use the Happy Cow website to find vegetarian-friendly restaurants.
- Always find the nearest grocery store near you and try buying some fresh local produce. I love fruits and I am always scouting around for the best exotic fruits when I am travelling. This is applicable to fresh vegetables as well.
- Always research a location before travelling for the best vegetarian food. This way, you know what to look for and you are always prepared.
- If you are travelling in a non-English speaking restaurant, learn how to say ‘I am a vegetarian. No Meat or no seafood or no fowl’ in the local language.
- If you are going to be on the road the entire day, then don’t forget to carry some snacks like granola bars or even fruits. In some areas, finding healthy vegetarian meals may be difficult.
- If you are buying snacks like chips or other vegetarian snacks from the local supermarkets, then don’t forget to always check the ingredients. I once accidentally ate chips coated with Ham in Germany and only realised when I thought that the chips tasted funny.
- Similarly, ask if the food is cooked in fish stock since many South-East Asian cuisines are cooked in oyster or fish sauce. Similarly, many dishes in Europe are cooked with chicken or meat broth. I was once told by a server in Malaysia that the vegetarian spring rolls were made in animal fat.
- Most Indian people are not aware of this. But Gelatin which is used as a gelling agent in many desserts is usually made from the insides of pig or cattle. Hence if you are a strict vegetarian/vegan or have a food preference because of religious concerns, please make sure that Gelatin is not included in the food you consume while travelling. Did you know that marshmallows are made of Gelatin?
- I am too lazy to cook. But sometimes having a place with a kitchen while travelling can be a boon for vegetarians.
- In Europe, I always have a heavy breakfast and an early dinner. Most days I end up skipping up lunch because three meals in Europe can make me feel stuffed through the day.
- Ask the locals. Since they can sometimes be the best people to advise you when it comes to finding vegetarian restaurants close to you.
- In many of the Asian countries, mock meat is a popular choice and readily available. I am not a huge fan of the same. But if you don’t mind it, then Seitan (made of wheat gluten) or other products like Yam flour, Tofu, rice, mushrooms etc are used to make mock meat.
- Don’t forget to visit the local food markets. Especially in Europe, you will find many varieties of vegetarian dishes available.
- When you are travelling in Africa, especially in the Safari parks, please make sure that your tour operator or hotel know that you require vegetarian food in advance. Else in some of the safari parks (the lesser-known ones), you may have to eat only vegetables and fruits during your time there.
- Always set your meal preferences in advance when you are flying a long haul flight. I remember once going hungry for my flight from Dubai to Lisbon.
After being to almost 40 countries and more than 25+ of them as a vegetarian, these are my top 5 countries when it comes to finding the best vegetarian food.
- India – My country India definitely has to be one of the easiest countries to find vegetarian food. There is a small misconception that most Indians are vegetarians. Actually, more than 71% of Indians are non-vegetarians. But due to our population, we do have the highest number of vegetarians in the world. Hence it is very easy to find vegetarian food in most parts of India.
- Israel – I was surprised by the numerous choices we have when it comes to being a vegetarian in Israel. There are numerous vegan choices as well.
- USA – I am not talking about small towns or cities. But the big cities like New York, Chicago or San Francisco are a vegetarian foodie’s delight when travelling as a vegetarian in the USA.
- Uk (London) – I keep going back to London every year and it has definitely been one of my favorite vegetarian foodie destinations.
- Italy – Anyone knows me knows that I love all kinds of pasta and pizza dishes. Hence Italy also ranks as one of my top foodie destinations.
It can be relatively harder to find vegetarian food in some parts of Eastern Europe.
In this section, I would like to list out some of my favourite vegetarian food experiences from the past 15 years. I am going to be listing country-wise since that is the one that makes sense to me right now. I will be listing them randomly though.
Italy: Food is an integral part of the food experience in Italy. One of my favourite food experiences in Italy would have to be eating Gelato ice cream everywhere I went. And oodles of delicious plates of pasta as well as pizzas all around town.
USA: Since New York was my first solo experience, I had a gala time walking around Manhattan sampling some of the best vegetarian food in the US. There are so many options to have but a New York cheesecake will always be one of my favorite desserts I had in the US.
Australia: When I went to Australia almost 8 years ago, I had a tough time finding vegetarian food. The only options on most days were potato wedges. But one thing I won’t forget is having all the delicious chocolate desserts in Max Brenners and Lindt shops in all the major cities in Australia. But hopefully, the situation has improved and we have got a lot more vegetarian options to choose from.
Tanzania: Growing up in Tanzania, one of my favorite memories is having Ugali, Maragi and Mandazi at a friend’s place. Maragi is basically Rajma (kidney beans) and everyone at home still calls it as Maragi.
Luxembourg: I spent less than a few hours in Luxembourg and the only thing I remember eating there was a Mexican taco. Hopefully, one day I will return to have more delicious food and get to spent more time in this beautiful country.
Slovenia: I was sick by the time I got to Slovenia. So I ended up having only comfort foods like Falafel, soups and sandwiches. One thing to note is that the prices are really affordable in Slovenia. If you end up going to Bled, then don’t forget to have the world-famous Bled cake.
Germany: I have been multiple times to Germany and most times I have stayed with friends or family. But if you have got to have one thing in Germany, then it has to be the German beer. I tasted alcohol (wine) for the first time in a place very close to Frankfurt.
UAE: I always stay with family when I go to Dubai and end up having a lot of home-cooked meals. But one of my favourite foodie experience in Dubai will have to be the lavish buffet at one of Atlantis‘s restaurants.
India: I kept India for the end since I believe that there is no other place like India when it comes to vegetarian food. I have had multiple favourites over the years. But I have listed some of my favourite food experiences in India since it is hard to just choose one.
- I love Paneer and I can eat almost any Paneer dish anywhere.
- Since I live in Bangalore, I love heading out to the VV Puram street food once in a while. Also, I love checking out the fine dining restaurants in Bangalore. Another food way to explore any Indian city is by going to the famous street food location.
- I love Punjabi food like Paranthas and Lassi.
- My favorite mallu food is Kappa (Tapioca) and spicy chutney. I also love Puttu and Kadla.
- I am a huge fan of the Rajasthani and Gujarati thalis.
- I am not fond of sweets which are extremely sweet. The only Indian sweets I eat are Kaju Barfi, Mysore Pak and Rasamalai.
Find my recommendations for guide books on Vegetarian and Vegan travel.
These are some of the recommended vegetarian food tours around the world.
So I hope you loved this round-up post about my vegetarian experiences around the world. Don’t forget to give it a share. It would mean a lot to me.
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