Eating on the road isn’t always glamorous: you take what you can get, when you get it and try not to internally complain. Sometimes you get lucky but usually you have to settle for highway rest stops or corner shops (depending on how you choose to travel). Add being a vegetarian on top of that and it seems like you’d have the ultimate recipe for an unpleasant time, right? Wrong!
Thanks to the hipsters, being a herbivore is finally cool. However, travelling can still throw up some difficulties for vegetarians, even in some European destinations, but it’s by no means impossible to get by. With a bit of pre-planning and preparation, you can travel the world and still satiate yourself guilt free.
So, here are some tips for Vegetarian Travellers:
Do your research!
A little bit of pre-planning will save you a long time wondering around looking for a suitable place to eat. Check out forums online for your planned location and see if anyone has advice or recommendations. Knowing the lay of the land before you go will save you getting ‘hangry’ and ruining your day later. The above app will go a long way in helping out in major destinations.
Learn the local dialect!
The main challenge that you’ll face with regards to eating is the language. In Europe, it fairly simple to eat and enjoy nearly every meal and snack that you found, because of two factors:
1. The abundance of English speakers. Throughout the continent, you’ll be usually able to communicate, even if only on a very basic level. If you can speak Russian or German, Italian or Spanish, it will be even easier for you.
2. Europe is great for vegetarians. What you see is what you get (almost every time). When looking at a dish, it’s pretty easy to discern whether it contains meat. This is not the case in Asia, however.
So, before you go, learn to say a variation on one of the following phrases in the local language: I don’t eat meat/ I am vegetarian/ no meat/ I eat vegetarian food. That’s going to go a long way in making sure you don’t end up with pig in your mouth.
Carry something on you!
Carry some sort of snack for those times when you can’t/forgot/didn’t want to plan ahead. This is particularly good advice for our vegan friends who might find it hard just grabbing something on the go.
Download helpful Apps!
A brilliant tool for veggies (and vegans) is the Happy Cow app. You can search your location for veggie/vegan restaurants and also for establishments that are veggie friendly. Users also can provide reviews and ratings to help other animal conscious travellers out. Or, before you visit a random restaurant, search your location via TripAdvisor app. It will show you which restaurant is friendly to vegetarians and you’ll can read reviews about them.
Visit a local store!
If you have the means to rustle yourself something up, then head over to the local store and take advantage of sampling the local produce once in a while. In a similar vein to a previous point, almost every store in the world will have some sort of bread and cheese available so you can at least fill yourself up until you find something else.
Go off menu!
Don’t be afraid of asking for something that is not on the menu. You may need to do a bit of pointing/using google translate to get you there, but if you can find a way of communicating what it is you want then chefs often don’t mind rustling something up for you.
About Flight Meals!
Most airlines (such as American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, and Continental Airlines) offer a wide variety of special request meals for long distance flights included in the airfare price. These meals may range from Western Vegetarian which may contain eggs and/or dairy, though usually means vegan, Vegan, Asian Vegetarian, to a Fruit Plate meal. However, due to budget cutbacks, some air carriers have discontinued their special in-flight food service.
When planning to travel by plane, be sure to ask your travel agent or airline representative upon booking your flight ticket what your options are! Also note that you will likely need to request a special meal at least 72 hours before your flight, and then confirm that again when you check in at the airport.
Once aboard the airplane, a flight attendant will come to you to confirm your special request. If no one comes to you, do ask an attendant to check on it for you. If your request was not entered into the computer system and was forgotten, an attendant may offer you something else, but the selection will be limited.
Be prepared for questions!
You’re going to another country with different customs and social codes. Not eating meat maybe totally unheard of, or carry a social stigma. Be prepared for questions. The key is to not get on your organic-free-range-grass-fed high-horse and get offended. Be honest, and don’t make it a big deal, then eventually people will leave you be and not pressure you. Besides, as a vegetarian, you’re probably used to everybody having an opinion on your dietary choices by now anyway.
I took some ideas for this Article from © Shoestringer