Whether you follow a vegetarian diet for health reasons, religious reasons or your love for animals, travel always brings with it some amount of apprehension. Mainly because as a traveler staying at hotels and traveling on flights, the option to buy and make your own meals is pretty much non-existent. You inevitably end up eating at restaurants and fast food joints. This is where the fear of not being able to find delicious, healthy menu items at any restaurant you visit comes in. However, don’t ever let this fear of food, bog down the travel bug in you! Just by doing a little extra homework and utilizing the right travel resources, finding eggless, meatless and even dairy-free food options isn’t impossible!
Travel Websites and Apps
Now that travelling around the world is one of the top hobbies for both young and old, a plethora of travel websites and apps have sprung up. Along with information about air ticket deals, hotels and transportation, they also provide you with a lot of details regarding the food options available at your destination.
Here are some of the renowned ones specifically for food:
- Eat. Drink
- Happy Cow and Vegman specialize in vegan and vegetarian cuisine
- Last but not the least – good ole Google!
These apps provide you with advice regarding which restaurants to consider for your specific diet requirements. You can check out the menu of each restaurant you like and search for vegetarian items or see if they offer substitutions. They will also help you find restaurants and food joints that are clean and rated healthy by other travelers. This being a very crucial detail to consider during travel. Some of the apps even let you make reservations. Hence, it is best to do a little research on well-known vegetarian restaurants or restaurants that offer vegetarian options using these apps before your travel. Once you have some local information in your hand, it will definitely give you some peace of mind.
Ask Your Neighbors
Another tip worth learning from veteran travelers is to inform the persons in charge of your lodgings about your vegetarian diet. As they are generally local, they will surely have some suggestions regarding vegetarian food joints in the area. If they aren’t well versed with the vegetarian food scene, they may ask around and make the information available for you at your arrival. Whether you are planning to stay at a hostel, private resort or a hotel, don’t take it for granted that there will be vegetarian options provided with the breakfast or other meals that are part of your package. That’s another good reason for mentioning your diet to the management your place of stay.
Researching the different cuisines popular at your destination is also very useful. With this you can figure out the easily available vegetarian dishes in those cuisines. Also, it is best to be open to try out something new. Cuisines like Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Ethiopian and Middle Eastern generally have a good number of vegetarian menu items to choose from. Indian entrées like Palak Paneer (Cottage Cheese in spinach sauce) and Idli-sambhar are pure vegetarian and very popular all over the world. Similarly, Thai restaurants serve dishes like Pad Thai, Green Curry and Red Curry are always available with a Tofu/vegetable version. Delicious Middle Eastern foods like Baba ghanoush, Hummus, Falafel and lots more are a treat for veggie lovers.
Let People Know You’re Vegetarian
On finding a good restaurant that you want to try out, make sure you mention your diet preferences upfront to the staff attending to you. If possible learn the comparable/similar term or phrase for “meatless food” in the local language. Different places have different ideas of vegetarianism. So being very clear about needing your food to be meatless, eggless or dairy free is super important. Also, politely ask for restaurant staff’s suggestions for vegetarian foods. If you are at a popular travel destination, it is more than likely that they have encountered other travelers with similar diet preferences.
To summarize, vegetarian travelers can avoid apprehension and negative situations related to food options by taking a few steps before and during travel. Dining and restaurant apps/websites can be a lifesaver for any travelers with specific diets. Also, researching cuisines that are popular for their vegetarian items is an important step. Along with both these points, taking help from people – be it the hotel/hostel staff, restaurant staff and even fellow travelers goes a long way in making the trip a success!