When travelling, soaking up the local culture remains incomplete if one has not tried the food. When you are vegetarian, eating local becomes difficult in most regions of the world. On a trip to Austria, my vegetarian friend and I ate enough baked potatoes to last a lifetime while the other two friends feasted on local delicacies 🙂
Friends and family know I do not scout around for a South Indian vegetarian restaurant; honestly, it is impossible to find even Indian, especially in smaller towns. There have been times when I have been surprised by what I found by chance. I have had some amazing Ukranian in Krakow and spring rolls in Ubud in a warung, and warungs typically serve cheap, tasty non-vegetarian fare.
I get asked how I manage.
I usually go through the menu (and in many touristy places, they are on display) and try to find something, even if it is only a starter or appetiser. These days food is not necessarily local, especially in touristy areas; one can find global cuisine, and there will be something vegetarian always. Several years ago, on a visit to Munich, we ate several Italian meals at a restaurant near our B&B. The chef spoke Italian and me, Spanish, and we never got the order wrong 🙂 Or the time in Spain which I talked about here.
It is a lot easier in bigger cities and can be a bit challenging in smaller towns. I was in Carcassonne recently. First off, it is off-season; the city sleeps early, wakes up late, takes an afternoon siesta and hibernates on weekends. Finding vegetarian was a bit like a hunt, but I didn’t starve.
Since eating local is limited or nil, I do not take pics of food. When I eat something nice and new, I remember to take pics AFTER grabbing a bit or polishing the plate. On my recent trip (I was away for a long time, a record of sorts for me), I made a conscious effort to take notes on what I ate. I was successful to a large extent; then there have been occasions when I forgot or remembered to take pics after starting to eat.
So what did I eat? Sandwiches, cheese (especially goat cheese), and the humble croissant were all readily available.
I ate a variety of felafels. None stood out, not even the one from the much sought-after outlet in Marais*, Paris. One particular felafel meal was so terrible that I thought it would give me the Delhi belly. However, it was interesting to see felafel served with a twist. A felafel combo could include salads, sauces, cheese, rice, or fries on the side.
I ate some yummy pizzas and several plates of pasta and some couscous too. One pasta that stood out was in Lyon at Le Vieux Lyon on Rue Saint-Jean; ravioli cooked three ways (Saint-Marcellin sauce, porcini mushroom sauce and pesto sauce). My birthday dinner was satiating, too (very good hummus and gnocchi in red sauce. I think I make tasteful hummus so I do not easily like any other).
Crepes and Waffles are readily available too, but not being a fan of either, I stayed away from them. But if these were my only food options, I would certainly make a meal of it. I had one Indian meal on this trip and it was surprisingly good.
I revisited a post about being vegetarian that I wrote a few years back. One thing I stand by is that if you are fussy, then it can get tricky. On top of that, it can be challenging if you have dietary restrictions. Ready-to-eat food packets (MTR) might be your only option.
Travelling overseas with a working phone has the added benefit of being able to find food 🙂 You could also look up websites such as this. Are you a vegetarian? How do you manage? How do your vegetarian friends manage? Any tips and/or suggestions on how you deal with being a vegetarian while on a trip? Do drop me a line and share your thoughts.
*And for those who think felafel is Jewish, just because the outlet is in a very Jewish area, not it is not. Felafel is very middle-eastern.
Edit: On reading this post, a dear friend suggested vegan as an option as the world is trying to eat less meat. Works well in bigger cities, but is still not a default, readily available option and is difficult in smaller towns. Sometimes these restaurants could be a short bus/train away. Vegan works if you plan your day well and add a meal time and place, unlike me who decides to eat when hungry and never have a fixed time for meals while on holiday.