The 7 best places to visit if you are vegetarian.
So, you’re an adventurer, you love to travel, but you’re also a vegetarian. You know that sometimes it can be tricky to find the few places in the world that can accommodate your special dietary needs. Although in Europe vegetarianism becomes more popular, it starts getting a little bit harder when you travel to far away countries.
Well, the good news is that, at Just Boarded, we have searched for meat-free and fish-free havens out there that offer delicious substitutes for common non-vegetarian meals and we also have selected the best ones, just for you.
With the highest rate of vegetarianism in the European Union, Italy has many classic restaurant favourites that are naturally meat-free. Ten percent of the population in Italy sticks to a vegetarian diet, so you definitely won’t feel alone!
Think delicious grilled or sautéed vegetables on a pizza, tasty risottos, healthy salads served with a soft focaccia and pasta dishes. In Rome, you can taste the black truffle macaroni, ricotta di bufala ravioli and buttered courgette flowers. If you visit a local market, make sure you get what you need for the antipasti (a buffet of small plates): some olives, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichokes and peppers, cheese, crackers. And the best bit? Each region has its own specialities, so you will never be bored!
Ah, India – the holy grail of vegetarian cuisine. India has around 500 million resident vegetarians who subsist on some of the most flavourful and diverse food on the planet. The concept of vegetarianism is so popular that you won’t even have to explain your diet, although some states are more vegetarian-friendly than others (in the south for example). Packaged food products sold in India even have to be labelled with a mandatory mark in order to be distinguished between vegetarian (green logo) and non-vegetarian (brown logo).
A few example of dishes you can taste are thali (a selection of various dishes) and dosa (pancake). You can also try curry, dal (lentils) and rice on a banana leaf, rice-flour-and-lentil pancake packed with spiced vegetables and dipped in spicy sambal gravies and coconut chutneys. Even meat and fish eaters will be amazed how delicious dishes can be when they contain only vegetables, spices, pulses, rice and grains.
Just as India, the Nepali culture is very familiar with vegetarianism. Almost every restaurants within the city serves vegetarian food. When in the mountains, meat or fish become very rare anyway as there is usually no way to store it.
The most nutritional and filling meal is the Dal-Bhaat. This authentic Nepali dish consists of rice served with vegetable curries, lentils, salad, and tomato chutney. And the best bit? You get unlimited refills! Our local guide used to say « Dal-Bhaat power, 24 hours! ».
However if you are tired of the Dal-Bhaat power, try the veg-momo (dumplings) – we highly recommend the spinach and cheese ones, the veg-chatamari (rice crepe with vegetable toppings, also known as Nepali Pizza) or yomari (dough shaped like a fig and filled with brown cane sugar and sesame seeds, which is then steamed) – simply delicious!
Meat-free Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as long periods of fasting, are a tradition of the Orthodox Church in Ethiopia. We’re not talking about the type of fasting where you refrain from eating altogether, but instead, fasting in Ethiopia means that you omit meat and all animal products from your diet (meat, milk, butter, cheese). So when it comes to vegetarian food, Ethiopia knows how to do it well.
First, let’s introduce you to injera, a pancake made from teff, an ancient grain that’s native to Ethiopia (and gluten-free!). Injera is the staple food of Ethiopia and it is served at almost every meal, whether you’re a strict vegetarian or a hardcore carnivore. It’s usually cooked on a griddle to the consistency of a thin flatbread and used as a spoon.
Then you have yetsom beyaynetu, a vegetarian combination platter served with injera. It offers several kinds of spicy and non spicy wats (stews) and vegetables. We love it for its flavours and it’s a great way to taste a little bit of everything too. Make sure you try the shiro wat, a stew made from ground chickpeas flour and cooked with a little oil, a blend of spices, onions, garlic, and ginger. It’s creamy like a hummus and very healthy. Could you resist to that?
Every year, Thailand has a vegetarian festival on Phuket called Kin Jay where the idea is to purify both, body and mind. Restaurants and street vendors offer vegetarian dishes made of vegetables, fruits, tofu and spices. During 10 days, devotees will participate in shows, performances and parades and stick sharp spikes through their cheeks. Don’t worry, we won’t ask you to do that. Just stick to tasting a dizzying array of meat-free dishes.
The rest of the year, because of its large Buddhist population, Thailand presents travellers with plenty of vegetarian options. Even restaurants that aren’t vegetarian-specific offer vegetarian options like delicious pad thai, spicy papaya salad and coconut-milk based curries. Look for the banana flower salad, egg noodles with burnt chili paste and veggies – they are a must-try!
Thirteen percent of Taiwan’s population follows a vegetarian diet at least some of the time, and governments at every level have encouraged all residents to be vegetarian one day a week. Vegetables are clearly the star of the show in traditional Taiwanese cooking!
Taiwan offers to its travellers a lot of exciting vegetarian dishes like udon noodles, black sesame tofu, and an array of rice-based dishes. Don’t miss out on waffles made from almond milk and rolled oats and paninis made from veggies. Even dishes that are normally served with meat can make fantastic veggie main plates thanks to the variety of tasty, unique sauces popular on this gorgeous island. Go ahead and explore!
Vietnam is another hot favourite vegetarian-friendly travel destination. There’s so much food to get really excited about and we have to admit it has become one of our favourite cuisines here at Just Boarded.
Vietnamese food is packed with fresh herbs (basil, mint, coriander) and spices (garlic, chilli, turmeric and lemongrass), which makes the whole cuisine so tasty and full of flavour.
No need to introduce the famous Pho, an aromatic, nutritious and delicious rice noodle soup served with a side plate of fresh herbs to add as you please. Add some tofu and mushrooms and you will have one of the most satisfying meals to eat!
If you fancy something a bit more filling, try the Vietnamese hotpot. A clear broth cooked in front of you at your table, where you can add all sort of raw vegetables and eat it with a side of cooked noodles and grilled tofu covered in tangy, sweet but savoury sauce. Your food will be served with different types of dipping sauces such as garlic soy sauce, fish sauce, or Vietnamese salt and lime sauce.
If you’re not a soup person, try claypot mushrooms with a sweet, spicy and rich, caramel like soy sauce or butternut squash curry. Writing this is making us hungry!
And you know what the best thing is? When your tasty dish has been cooked by locals and you eat it in a typical stilt house. Welcome to Heaven!
See? There is no need to worry about food when you’re travelling. Plus, if you’re travelling with us, we will always make sure you have plenty of tasty food that will fit your diet. In fact you will even get to try some unique vegetarian dishes and discover new flavours.
Until next adventure.
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