With more and more people trying to have healthier lifestyles, getting a square vegetarian meal overseas can be a daunting task as many cultures and cuisines are not familiar with the concept or practise.
Whilst most urban establishments the world over usually offer a vegetarian option these days, it’s still possible that in many places this may not go much further than a plate of salad or some local cheese on toast. Having said that, there are many countries that have vegetable-based meals squarely in their culinary repertoires and visiting these countries definitely won’t leave you wanting in the food department.
The Gatronaught team look at some destinations where vegetarians will be in food heaven!
There is little doubt over how Italy is famed for its great food. And whilst the Italians do love meat and fish, their diet is also very vegetarian-friendly with plenty of dishes to suit (such as pasta, pizza or rice) wherever you travel across the country. When in Rome, try pomodori col riso (rice cooked in a roasted tomato). In Florence, you can dine on zuppa di faro (a spelt soup) and in Palermo try pasta alla norma (pasta with eggplant, tomato sauce, ricotta and basil). All of this is likely to come with a generous supply of fresh breads. And if you are stilling feeling peckish, you can always indulge in a tiramisu or some traditional gelato to finish.
India, being one of only two Hindu nations (Hindus are traditionally vegetarians), is a haven for veggies. With a mind-boggling choice of some of the tastiest dishes in the world, cooked in ways you can only imagine, it could be said to be a vegetarian paradise. The style and type of food varies greatly from region to region, so whether it’s a curry, lentils, rice-based dishes like biriyanis, dosa, uthappam, idli or the wide variety of breads and dishes spiced from mild to hot, veggies will be more than content in India for food choice. Plus selecting and ordering your dishes should be easy in most places, however remote, given that English is a second language throughout the sub-continent.
There is ample choice of food in Greece for vegetarians and always options on the menu when dining out! As lovers of aubergines, potatoes, courgettes, feta cheese, olives, fresh salads, hummus and bread, the Greeks have a love for simple, tasty vegetable dishes and a particular joy of outdoor eating! Mezzes, made up of small dishes ideal for sharing are always popular, with something for everyone. Try tzatziki (a delicious mint & cucumber yogurt dip) as great with salad and bread! Spanakopita is also very tasty, consisting of spinach and cheese wrapped in filo pastry; in Greece you’ll definitely be spoiled for choice
Vegetarianism is recognised and well provided for virtually anywhere in Thailand. Foods rich in flavour fill the streets, restaurants and cafés all day long! Famous for red and green curries and pad thai noodles, mangasawirat (vegetarian) dishes can be ordered in most regions. Just be sure to ask for food without fish or oyster sauce if this is a problem. Try pad thai phak (noodles with vegetables), khao phat pak (fried rice with vegetables) and som tam (spicy papaya salad)! And if you are a fruit lover, just visit a local fruit market for a fantastic experience. Enjoy pineapple, papaya, dragon fruit, custard apple, coconuts and much more in abundance. Eat them fresh or squeezed into fresh juice for your cocktail!
Due to the nature of Jewish dietary laws, vegetarians in Israel can find many restaurants for them, primarily due to an ordinance that says that dairy and meat can’t be mixed. Plus as a Middle Eastern country, the region’s shared cuisine has a wealth of veggie-friendly dishes such as hummus, baba ganoush (an aubergine-based dip), falafel and sabich (pita stuffed with aubergine, egg and hummus). If you are visiting Israel this year, do enjoy the local street food which can be a great experience and most is vegetarian-friendly!