Six months of backpacking across 26 countries and we have successfully survived being vegetarians. The truth is, it is not difficult (note: not not easy!) being a vegetarian and you can manage in most of the countries without starving! The biggest problem we see is communicating that you are a vegetarian and it gets especially tough when a new meal needs to be prepared for you separately (which is always not possible)
Some tips that work everywhere when you are a veggie:
1. Have this card printed out and put it in your pocket. Works anywhere, not sure when it will come handy.
2. Again, google translate(offline version – download the package of the required language when you are connected to the internet) comes to the rescue.
3. Ask the locals who understand English to translate and write it down for you.
4. Do your research online noting down some of the local dishes that are vegetarian.
5. Stock up on veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds and snacks!
We deliberately chose to use the word “not difficult” instead of “easy” because obviously, let’s face it, there are some challenges being a vegetarian!
1. Be prepared to eat the same food in every restaurant. You will miss out on sheer variety and some must-try local dishes. For instance, we had to settle with Falafel for most of our time in Tehran.
2. Communication. In one instance, the guy had clearly understood that we wanted something vegetarian, devoid of any meat. So he gets a lamb curry and removes all the lamb pieces in front of us. Voila, there you go, here’s your vegetarian lamb curry!
3. Very dependent on super markets. Sometimes, restaurant are prohibitively expensive, street food will not have any veggie options and cannot be customized.
4. It’s not always tasty or healthy. You might want to resort to cooking. Check into a hotel/guest house with a kitchen. If you are couchsurfing, you can always cook meal for your host. And, believe us, it’s fun!
5. The moment we say we are vegetarians, people start putting you under the category of an activists who have voluntarily stopped eating meat because of various good-for-the-world reasons like carbon emissions, inhumane treatment towards animals, global warming etc., but we are not vegetarians because of these reasons. To each his own – We just grew up being vegetarians and cannot shift to being something else now.
Surprisingly, we had an amazing time in almost every place! Our taste buds were constantly kept happy and we still recollect those lip-smacking dishes and try them at home! Here’s a teaser for you. 😉
Separate posts on vegetarian food in different countries coming soon. 🙂