If you’re a vegetarian traveler, you’ve probably often heard from locals that in their place you’ll be hungry, because most of the dishes are made with meat. Sometimes it’s true, more often – exaggeration. While in many countries eating meat is considered to be a part of the culture, it’s usually possible to find at least a few traditional foods that don’t contain it. This research might be simpler or more complicated, depending on the place.
Which are the countries where you can easily get a delicious veggie dish? Here’s a list of 7 destinations for vegetarian travelers. If you pick one of them for your next trip, you surely won’t have to worry about food. In fact, you might rather be overwhelmed with the abundance of options.
The consumption of meat in India is extremely low, and many (about 20-40%) locals claim to be vegetarians. Due to religious traditions, vegetarianism is deeply rooted in Indian culture. Many of the most famous dishes, such as aloo ghobi, masala pav or pindi chana are vegetarian, or at least have vegetarian variations. You can enjoy local restaurants and have a taste of street food – there are always some yummy vegan foods to choose from. Vegans also don’t have to be worried about their survival in India. Hindus and Jains, who make quite a large part of the Indian population, often eat neither eggs nor dairy products.
Singapore doesn’t take much space on the map, but this little country is full of culturally diverse people. As it usually happens, these people have brought influences from their country of origin and added a little twist to the local cuisine. That’s why in Singapore there are hundreds of vegetarian restaurants where you taste foods typical for Japan, India, Malaysia and many other countries. The one thing you should be careful about is, just as in Thailand, the addition of fish and seafood – they are ubiquitous in Southeast Asia, especially in the form of pastes and sauces, which makes them harder to spot at first sight. If not eating in a strictly vegetarian restaurant, you’d be better off checking whether the dish contains some fish.
Vegetarianism isn’t exactly popular in Greece. People might even get surprised when you tell them you don’t eat meat. Nevertheless, even if locals don’t realize it, Greece is a paradise for vegetarians. Because of the tradition of fasting in the Orthodox Church, religious Greeks tend to avoid animal products before Easter. This custom has turned them into creative cooks. There are rich traditional dishes suitable for vegetarians. You can try vegetable moussaka, spinach pies, fava, Greek salad with feta, yemista and many other delicacies. Besides, everything grows beautifully in the Mediterranean climate, so Greek lands are rich in fruit and veggies.
The residents of Jamaica have a fascinating reason not to eat meat. Some of them belong to the Rastafari movement and follow the so-called Ital diet. This particular food is supposed to increase livity (the life energy) and, since meat is dead, it works against it. Some Rastafari avoid processed food and animal products as well. It doesn’t mean everyone living in Jamaica is either a vegetarian or a vegan. In fact, only a small percentage of Jamaicans belong to the Rastafari movement, but their nutrition has been widely accepted, so you won’t cause shocks or confusion if you say you’d like to have a meat-free dinner. Moreover, lots of delicious fruit and veggies can be found in Jamaica, so people gladly use them to cook.
The United Kingdom
When thinking of British cuisine, most people imagine sausages and beacon. Eating meat is popular in the U.K. and so are heavy dishes, but recently vegetarianism has also become familiar. Most towns have numerous vegetarian restaurants. Several years ago PETA listed London as the most vegetarian-city in the world. The traditional cuisine of the U.K. can’t be called vegetarian, the climate out there is terrible, so veggies don’t grow all year abundantly round, but the modern culture and immigration have significantly affected the U.K. and turned into the country of salads.
Thanks to Buddhist and Daoist influences, vegetarianism is favored in Taiwan. Vegetarian restaurants are all around the place, vegan foods in grocery stores are always labeled, many people who aren’t vegetarians try to do without meat at least a few days a week – what else could you ask for? As you can now imagine, there are countless dishes you can choose from, one yummier than the other. When visiting Taiwan, you simply can’t miss the chance to try such delights as tiey ban fàn (steel-cooked rice) or mapo dòufu (chili tofu).
Vegetarianism is recognized and respected in most parts of Thailand. All-vegetarian restaurants are quite typical, especially in touristy areas. Even if you go to a traditional local eatery though, nobody will get very surprised if you ask whether they have something vegetarian. Thai cuisine is full of delicious noodle- and rice-based dishes. Seafood and fish are often added to those, but you can avoid them – it’s usually enough to ask if you can order a meal without them politely.
Do you know some other vegetarian-friendly destinations? Let us know! And don’t forget to share this article with your vegan friends!