My Favorite Food Experiences As A Vegetarian Traveller (for 17 Years)
I have been a vegetarian traveller for more than 17 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.
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Read Some of My Latest Vegetarian Traveller posts
- Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Mexico City (Street Food to Fine dining)
- Travelling as Vegans and Vegetarians in Mexico (What to Eat, Tips, Survival Guide)
- What To Eat In Israel As A Vegetarian (What to eat, Vegan Tips, Survival Guide)
- Vegetarian Food in Belgium, Austria and Germany (What to eat, Vegan Tips, Survival Guide)
- Vegetarian Food in Prague (What to eat, Vegan Tips, Survival Guide)
- Vegetarian Food in Amsterdam and Luxembourg (What to eat, Vegan Tips, Survival Guide)
Find out my recommendations for vegetarian tours
Before we go any further, find out my recommendations for best vegetarian tours.
Vegan Mexican Recipes
Learn how to cook Mexican food with a visit to the food market.
Why Am I A Vegetarian Foodie?
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.
Vegetarian Travel around the world
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.
Recommended Read – Eurotrip itinerary
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.
Different Types of vegetarians
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.
Check Out Some Recommended Vegetarian Tours Around the World:
Travel Tips For Vegetarians / 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.
My Favorite Countries To Find Veggie Dishes
After being to almost 45 countries and more than 25+ of them as a vegetarian, these are my top 6 countries when it comes to finding the best vegetarian food. It can be relatively harder to find vegetarian food in some parts of Eastern Europe.
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.
I initially found it difficult to find vegetarian food in Mexico when I was living in India.
But all that changed when I decided to explore the food scene in Mexico. One of the biggest difficulties is communicating what you want and once you can articulate that well, it becomes a little easier to find vegan food in Mexico.
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.
I keep going back to London every year and it has definitely been one of my favorite vegetarian foodie destinations.
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.
Alcohol And Being A Vegetarian
If you are a vegetarian who loves to drink alcohol, then read on. Many of the beers and wines can be processed using animal products like gelatin or egg whites. However, most of the hard liquor like Whiskey, Rum, Vodka etc are vegan by default. Use the Barnivore website to find out if your drink is vegan or not.
MY FAVORITE VEGETARIAN TRAVELLER FOOD EXPERIENCES
There are lots of options for vegetarians in Austria. And that is the reason it is difficult to decide if I like the Apple Strudel or the world-famous Sacher torte paired with an Eiskaffee coffee. So you must have guessed it. Most of my favourite vegetarian experiences will be of vegetarian desserts. Check out how to make an Apple strudel in Salzburg. I was sick during my second visit to Austria and I went around looking for comfort vegetarian soup all around Salzburg.
I have been multiple times to the Netherlands including thrice to Amsterdam and there is something that I eat in Amsterdam every time. I am talking about the delicious Pannenkoken which are savoury pancakes. My favorite place to have them is a small shop opposite the Amsterdam central station. The best way to see Amsterdam is to take a dinner cruise around the canals and the one with live cooking is perfect for all foodies.
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.
Roaming around Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda and sampling the various vegetarian fares is another favorite food experience in Israel. I went here multiple times and each time I found something unique as a vegetarian to eat. I had many types of hummus, falafel, Baba Ganoushes, Halva, fresh juices and many more veggie dishes when I was here.
Chocolates and waffles are somehow synonymous with Belgian food. One of the favourite tours I took in Belgium was my chocolate tour. If you want to learn how to make waffles, then head over to learn how to make some delicious Belgian waffles. Totally worth your time if you are a foodie like me.
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.
I was heartbroken over getting robbed in Madrid. But that didn’t stop me from gorging on some delicious vegetarian food in Madrid and Barcelona. Eating some delicious food was what got me over my heartbreak in Madrid. And that is one of the reasons I would definitely recommend a tapas tour or a Paella cooking class. My favourite thing to eat in Spain was the Spanish Tortilla. I ate them almost every single day.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Belem’? Pastel De Nata or the delicious tiny egg custard tarts found in a world-famous shop in the Belem neighbourhood in Lisbon. Learn how to make a Pastel De Nata or go on one of the Fado and food walking tours in Lisbon.
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.
I am in love with French desserts and I am always eager to visit Paris. On my last visit to Paris, I loved my brunch at the Laduree restaurant and I wish I learned how to make some of those delicious macaroons. If you would love to go on a food tour in Paris, then I would recommend the Montmarte walking tour.
I have always been a fan of English continental breakfast and I am always looking for them all around the world. However, on my last visit to London, I ended up going for an afternoon tea and I ended up loving my time there. I am definitely going to try another place for afternoon tea the next time I am in London.
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.
We went road tripping all around Ireland and we did not have many memorable food experiences except for the Sea salt ice cream at Murphy’s in Dingle. But if you are a whiskey connoisseur, then don’t forget to take a tour to one of the distilleries all around Ireland.
Most of our time in Scotland was spent on the road and we mostly stayed in Airbnb’s all around Scotland. It is relatively harder to find vegetarian food in Scotland and it is advised to carry some snacks when you are road tripping in Scotland. We ended up buying groceries everywhere and making our own food in most places. I was also traveling with my friend who preferred Halal food and hence it was easier to cook on our own.
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.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
It was difficult for me to find vegetarian food in Bosnia and I ended up eating a lot of pizzas and pasta. The exception to this is the Bureks and Bosnian coffee. Go on a Sarajevo food tour where you can learn how to know the differences between bureks and other pies and learn how to drink a Bosnian coffee.
This was the same case in Montenegro since most of the food in Eastern Europe is heavily based on meat products. However, I was in Kotor for 4 days and I ended up having Egg salad sandwich, Bruschettas and Krempitas every single day. They do have some wine tasting tours but none of them had a vegetarian option.
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.
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.
As someone who was going to Scandinavia for the first time, I was really worried if I would find vegetarian food. But what I did not know was that Stockholm has a thriving vegetarian food scene and I did not face any issues in Sweden. But my favourite part was the Fika experience where every day locals get together in the afternoon to have coffee and a little bit of a sweet dish.
I was in Denmark during the start of Winter and hence it was really cold most of the time. One of my favorite experiences here was the culinary tour I took in Copenhagen. There were lots of options for us vegetarians including some Danish candy, Smorrebrod and organic cheeses.
One of the advantages when it comes to finding Vegetarian food in Croatia is that the cuisine is very similar to Italian cuisine. Hence you can find multiple options when it comes to finding vegetarian food in Croatia. But a food tasting in Split was one of the highlights of my vegetarian trip to Croatia.
I was again very emotional in Prague but food again was a great comfort. I ended up having a 16-course delicious degustation vegetarian buffet at Etnosvet and it was the highlight of my trip to Prague. Also, the prices of alcohol are really affordable here and I would recommend going to a pub crawl in Prague.
I went to Malaysia with family and hence we ended up having many Indian vegetarian meals. But one of my favorite things to have in Malaysia has to be the Nasi Goreng or Stir-fried noodles. I know technically even though the origin of this dish is in Indonesia, it is found abundantly in Malaysia as well and I love it.
I went to Thailand for my honeymoon and I must have had Pad Thai noodles, Raw Papaya salad and Strawberry shake almost every single day. I loved how fresh the fruits were. We also ended up going to a few night markets. Even though many dishes are non-vegetarian, you can find your share of vegetarian dishes in such places as well.
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.
It was my first time in the Baltics last year and one of my favorite things to eat in Latvia was the floating island or peldošās salas. It was just pure deliciousness.
There is a lot of emphasis on root vegetables and berries in the Baltic regions and you can find quite a number of vegetarian options made with pumpkins, beets, potatoes etc. But this grilled curd cheese was one of my favorites.
Estonia was a little more difficult when it came to finding vegetarian food and I had to go looking for exclusive vegan/vegetarian restaurants. But this delicious vegetarian caviar dessert was something else.
While living in Mexico, it was initially very difficult to find vegetarian food. Because I didn’t know what to look for. Street food is definitely the cheapest but when it comes to vegetarian food, you cannot be absolutely sure that it is not made with the same vessels other food is cooked in. But in Mexico city, there are so many vegan/vegetarian restaurants that I was spoilt for choices. One of my favorites was the street food Vegan Tacos at Por siempre vegana. They were extremely affordable and I used to eat there at least once a week.
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.
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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