I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life. “Your whole life?! So you never ate meat?” is the reaction that typically follows when I tell people. Yes, my whole life, and except for a handful of mistakes where chicken wasn’t considered meat by the locals or when I boozed a bit too much I never ate meat. People often ask me if I find it hard to travel as a vegetarian, so in this blog I’ll answer that question: is it?
Back in the days
About 10 years ago me and my friends went on a road trip to France. The French are well-known for the haute cuisine where they eat frog bums and snails so you can imagine I was not too sure what I would find when it comes to eating vegetarian. After eating a pizza the first couple of nights (good ol’ Pizza Margarita will never disappoint) we ended up at a local restaurant. The menu didn’t have any vegetarian dishes so I asked them what the options for vegetarians were. They looked at me strangely and after some half-French-half-English negotiations they said they could prepare a pasta for me. About 20 minutes later the pasta was served. A whole lotta tagliatelle with a big lump of butter. That was it!
Another incident I clearly remember, also in France, was in Disneyland. Some restaurants marked their vegetarian options with a green leaf, and guess what? All the chicken dishes were marked with a green leaf! As far as I know chicken is still a happy little animal that clearly qualifies as meat 😉
A vegetarian in Europe
In the past few years I traveled to countries such a Greece, Italy, Belgium, Turkey and Hungary. Overall it was pretty easy to find a vegetarian meal. In Greece you just can’t go wrong with a delicious Greek Salad with some tzatziki on the side, and in Belgium it’s just as easy to eat vegetarian as it is in The Netherlands. Italy has plenty of tasteful veggie pizzas and pastas and even in Turkey you will find enough vegetarian options. I was in Hungary this April and found eating as a vegetarian at the standard local spots wasn’t as easy as it was in other European countries. When my mom ordered the risotto she just got a big bowl of risotto with cheese (reminded me of my pasta-butter incident) and when asking them if a dish was without meat they often didn’t really understand the question. Luckily we found a delicious vegan restaurant where we had some delicious meals the days after.
A vegetarian in Asia
The countries I’ve been to in Asia are all vegetarian heaven. Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia – they all serve delicious veggie meals. Tofu is highly incorporated in the Asian cuisine and I’ve never heard a no when I asked if the chicken could be replaced for tofu. Because India is ‘fairly close’ to Southeast Asia you’ll also find tons of Indian restaurants in these paradisiacal countries that also serve a wide range of fingerlicking meatfree dishes.
A vegetarian in Australia
There’s one thing that really defines the Ozzie kitchen: BBQ! Since the weather is often great in Australia there’s always a good reason to have a nice ‘barbie’ with friends or family. Barbecuing often means throwing big lumps of steak onto the BBQ but during my first Aussie BBQ I learned that veggies and some halloumi cheese also make the perfect barbecue dish. Overall, Australians are real meat eaters but vegetarian and vegan restaurants are popping up everywhere. What I also LOVED about Australia is how cheap sushi is over there! I don’t eat fish, but an avocado or cucumber roll often costs less than $3 dollars making it the perfect quick bite for any vegetarian (or vegan) out there.
So, the answer to the question “is it easy to travel as a vegetarian?” is most definitely YES! I haven’t been to South America or Africa so I can’t tell you what it’s like to travel as a veggie over there, but in Europe, (Southeast) Asia and Australia it is super easy to travel as a vegetarian.