Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas licensed under CC
Being a vegetarian abroad can sometimes be a challenge. Some countries are well prepared to accommodate vegetarians, others less so. Here are some of the more vegetarian-friendly destinations to consider for your next break.
India and Italy are great options
A fine example of a place that accommodates vegetarians is India, where there’s a great choice of food, and while some meals may be spicier than we’re used to, it’s easy to get along.
A great deal of the local food is in fact vegan, with no dairy products used, and the Indian interpretations of many Western dishes are prepared using only vegetarian ingredients.
Another great destination for vegetarians is Italy, where they cook much of the food to order and can easily accommodate your personal requirements. The restaurants are normally very happy to make changes to the ingredients, so don’t be afraid to ask.
It’s worth noting that some cities in the north of Italy are especially fond of meat dishes, particularly around Bologna, Parma and Modena, and the vegetarian options here can sometimes be limited. It goes to show that there are always exceptions to the rule.
More cosmopolitan cities are usually a safe bet
An increase in awareness of healthy eating and care for the environment has helped to make vegetarian shops and eateries popular in many major cities around Europe, such as Stockholm.
You’ll find no shortage of vegetarian options in the countercultural cities of Berlin and Barcelona, even if meat is an important staple in many of their respective nation’s dishes.
Amsterdam has always been rebellious and alternative, and there are some fabulous opportunities to sample new delicious dishes here, taking advantage of the successful market gardening throughout the country.
In Belgium, things have gone even further, with many cafes and restaurants in Ghent maintaining a meat-free day each week.
Turkey and North Africa have ideal diets for vegetarians, and because the hotels and restaurants are usually customer focused, many of the difficulties are often easy to overcome. Meat tends to be seen as a luxury, so the majority of home cooked meals will use beans, pulses and legumes for the protein content. And utterly delicious it is too!
Best of America
America has a reputation for being a big meat-loving nation, but there are some great opportunities for vegetarian eating, particularly in cities such as Portland, San Francisco and New York. California is renowned for its alternative, healthy lifestyle and you’ll find restaurants here catering for almost any type of eating.
Some places where you may struggle
Meat is still however ingrained in the national identity for many American states, such as Texas, a state proud of its ranching history, and you’ll likely struggle to find a decent range of vegetarian options at the smaller eateries.
Russia has taken time to adapt to non-meat eaters, and rural France is quite traditional when it comes to meat being an essential part of meals. You will however easily find a vegetarian-friendly restaurant in the heart of Paris.
A general rule is that if you’re visiting a large city with a diverse culture, it’s likely you’ll find at least some restaurants that welcome vegetarians. If you’re visiting somewhere more remote - particularly around Central Asia, Eastern Europe or Latin America, where meat is a major part of the local diets - it’s best to do some extra research before jetting off.
For more information and advice on vegetarian issues, visit Vegetarian for Life, a charity dedicated to working for and with older vegetarians and vegans.
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