Have you ever gone on a holiday, ordered potato wedges thinking of it to be a safe bet for vegetarian food only to find it served with bacon? Have you ever ordered a vegetarian meal and found eggs and fish as garnish on the plate? If you are a true vegetarian traveller, you might have often found yourself in these piquant or downright frustrating situations. Good food is an important aspect of a good holiday. For the vegetarian travellers who want to go beyond just ‘getting along’ to have a really great time, we bring you 7 best destinations for vegetarian travellers that have gained the reputation of being ‘vegetarian friendly’.
A vegetarian’s haven, not surprisingly, as India has the highest percentage of vegetarians in the world. According to a survey in the year 2006, around 31 per cent of Indians are vegetarians or lacto-vegetarians who consume milk and dairy products. Vegetarian food products are labelled with a green dot in a green square. It goes without saying that in India there is no dearth of vegetarian restaurants serving delicious fare. Even non-vegetarian restaurants have several vegetarian options on the menu. There are many interesting vegetarian options to choose from, rice and lentil-based dishes, vegetable stir-fries, curries, salads, soups and desserts. Walk into any restaurant and order a ‘vegetarian thali’ and you will get a complete Indian meal-rice, roti (unleavened bread), dal (lentils), curry, papad, curd and dessert. Street foods serving a whole range of interesting vegetarian snacks are also available. The best part is you can rest easy once you say ‘vegetarian’. No fish sauce or animal fat-fried surprises will land on your plate when you order vegetarian food in India. However, you may have to be specific while ordering a vegan meal.
⦁ Dosas – Crisp, fried lentil-based crepes served with spicy coconut condiment
⦁ Samosas – Deep fried triangular snack with potato filling
⦁ Palak Paneer – Curry made of spinach and cottage cheese
⦁ Aloo Parantha – Flatbread with potato filling roasted over a griddle with oil
Thailand is a vegetarian-friendly place. We didn’t say vegetarian’s haven for a good reason. Though vegetarian food outlets are available here, the concept of vegetarianism translating to ‘Mangsawirat’ is a pretty loose one. Mangsawirat can include the popular fish and oyster sauces, meat-stock or eggs. If you just proclaim ‘Gin Jay’ meaning ‘pure vegetarian’, you are good to go (though it can get onions, garlic and spices excluded as well). The concept of vegetarianism is not alien and vegetarians can easily find a wide range of palate-satisfying dishes. It is advised to be careful when it comes to street foods. They may not have the time to customise dishes according to your needs. Chiang Mai and Bangkok are the two places where vegetarian restaurants are easily available. For in-between times, Thailand has fresh fruits in plenty. It is easy to buy bread, cheese or nuts from anywhere. The 9-day Phuket Vegetarian Festival will be a big help if you are visiting at that time (September/October).
⦁ Thai Tom Kha Soup – Vegetables in coconut milk
⦁ Pad Pak Ruam – Mixed fried vegetables
⦁ Vegetarian Pad Thai – Noodles with vegetables
Named the World’s Most Vegetarian-Friendly City by PETA, it is quite easy to be a vegetarian in London. Food products in supermarkets and even in steak houses come with a green ‘V’ label denoting ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ food. There are many vegetarian restaurants serving lip-smacking vegetarian fare. For in-between times there are always samosas, jacket potatoes, bread, fruits and cheese. Pubs often serve vegetarian burgers and restaurants offer vegetarian options. The famous old Rootmaster, a double-decker bus, has received a make-over as a vegan restaurant serving organic, freshly cooked food. South Indian restaurants, Turkish restaurants (salads), Melati (for delicious Indonesian food) and numerous cafes like the Bonington and Vitao offer great vegetarian spread. London even has an annual vegetarian week.
⦁ Orange and Cointreau Cheesecake (Gate),
⦁ The six-course vegetarian menu at Morgan M (not for the budget traveller!),
⦁ Houmous at Hummus Bros
One of the most vegetarian-friendly cities in the US, San Francisco offers fantastic range of healthy and delicious vegetarian options. The Bay area is renowned for vegetarian food options suitable for every budget. There are scores of cafes, restaurants and health food stores catering to vegans and vegetarians offering Indian, Japanese or Mexican delicacies. The local farmers’ markets are also treasure-houses for fresh vegetables and fruits.
⦁ Stuffed Avocado Salad (at Saha),
⦁ ‘Deep Dish’ pizza at Café Gratitude,
⦁ Soy Chicken Shawarma,
⦁ Cha-Ya Roll (Cha-Ya),
⦁ Truffle macaroni and cheese at Source.
A vegetarian hotspot in Southeast Asia, Singapore has uncountable numbers of vegetarian restaurants and restaurants serving customised vegetarian food. Over a hundred vegetarian restaurants serve the best of Indian, Malaysian and Chinese cuisine. Choose from vegetarian imitations of popular meat dishes, vegetarian satays or the delectable vegetarian Nyonya cuisine. You can never be short on protein too in this city that serves tofu, soy puddings and soy shakes. If you want to keep it light, there are many fresh fruits to choose from. Vegetarian food flavoured with lemongrass, galangal and coconut milk make vegetarianism a delightful choice here.
⦁ South Indian Thali (Komala Vilas),
⦁ Vegetarian Steamboat Buffet (Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant),
⦁ Fried Veg with sweet & sour sauce (Just Greens)
Italy has reportedly the highest vegetarian population in Europe (10 per cent). Declaration of ‘Sono Vegetariano’ (I am vegetarian) is not a serious problem in a country where meat is not a compulsive part of every meal. There are many vegetarian restaurants and it is easy to find vegetarian options even in regular restaurants. Fresh vegetables, fruits, cheese, wines, herbs, beans, cereals, soups, pastas and pizza with loads of fresh vegetables – there are enough to keep vegetarians happy in Italy. Just check the toppings, and if in doubt about the ingredients (as in sauces and dressings), ‘E senza carne?’ (Is it meat free?) should help you out. ‘Primi’ (appetisers) have many vegetarian pasta dishes and the ‘Contorni’ (side-dishes) are a gold mine of vegetable dishes – bell peppers, eggplant, olives, zucchini, artichokes and tomatoes. Note that all cheese is not vegetarian (stay away from Parmesan).
⦁ Pasta primavera,
⦁ Tiramisu (dessert),
⦁ Gelato (ice-cream),
⦁ Pizza Marinara.
This is quite a vegetarian-friendly city. Most of the major cities in Canada are vegetarian friendly. If you can catch the annual Vegetarian Food Festival (September), you can gorge on great vegetarian food samples of various cuisines. There are many vegetarian restaurants and vegetarian options to be found in the city. Faux meat dishes are very popular and there are many options to choose from, including sweet and sour ‘chicken’ and burgers with veggie ‘steaks’.
⦁ Vegan Burrito Bowl at Chipotle’s,
⦁ Vegetable Soup and Mock Meats at King’s Café,
⦁ Raw pizza at Live.
Vegetarian travellers enjoy travel as much as anyone else. However when it comes to food, you were likely to hear ‘fruits and salads only’ stories. Things are changing now. More emphasis is being laid on healthy eating. Vegetarian food is rapidly nudging its way into international plates and palates. Look forward to enjoying good food in these 7 best destinations for vegetarian travellers listed above.