The struggles of a vegetarian traveller.
As a vegetarian for most of my life, I've always had to be mindful of what's in my food. Very conscious of only eating free-range eggs, I've since decided to remove them from my diet altogether after learning more about the chicken culling process. It is not a decision I take lightly and it's definitely meant that my options are more restrictive. While I feel that in the last few years the vegetarian movement has come forward in leaps and bounds, it hasn't quite infiltrated some cultures or corners of the world. Sometimes I am amazed to see vegetarian and vegan friendly options sprouting up on menus everywhere. At other times, I can only sigh when waiters scratch their heads and ask "What about fish? Or chicken?".
Doing your research.
While I'd love to be more spontaneous in our restaurant choices, I've learnt to always ALWAYS check the menu first. And yes, I can't always eat the street food but I try all the local delicacies that I am able. Often this can mean eating a lot of sweet things, but I'm happy to stick to my guns. I've found that the Foursquare app is a great tool for identifying delicious vegetarian friendly venues. I also know other vegetarians that swear by using the Happy Cow app.
The support of a partner.
Dan has always supported my diet choices and has now been plant based himself for the last 6 months. His decision to avoid meat is based on sustainability principles. What I know is that it's far easier to do the vegetarian journey together. Plus it means that I now get to enjoy tasting his meals, which is a massive bonus!
Truth be told dining out is not always a fun experience. Sharing a tapa-style meal with friends is not always an easy task. I will often instead order something a la carte off the menu, which can take the fun out of sharing a meal. I've also been left feeling incredibly frustrated at airports or on flights that simply have no vegetarian options. What it teaches you is to come prepared. Choose airlines, carriers and tour providers that cater to your dietary requirements. And where it's not possible, make sure you bring your own food. We often stock up on fruit, nuts and seeds and carry sandwich ingredients in our stainless steel lunchboxes.
Enjoy time in the kitchen.
The great news is that I love to cook and vegetarian cooking is hugely cost effective. A real turning point for us was living in a van for 6 months in Europe. The nomadic way of life really teaches you to be more resourceful and satisfied with living with less. It has also evolved the way that I cook. Rather than using complex recipes, I've simplified my cooking style and now create meals out of whats local, organic and in season. One of my favourite parts of travelling, is making a visit to local organic farmers markets. With fresh local ingredients you can make a delicious and affordable vegetarian meal that really sings. It's a great way for us to keep to our budget and make sure we are eating a balanced diet.
Sticking to your guns.
Dan and I often muse that our awareness has made our purchasing decisions over-complicated and that "ignorance is bliss". While that may be true, we feel a responsibility to be mindful consumers. Consumption for us as a couple has really taken on a whole new meaning in the past year. As we've endeavoured to become more socially and environmentally conscious, we've realised the benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle. Being a vegetarian traveller is not always easy, but it's definitely getting easier!
Be mindful when choosing your travel destinations.
Our favourite vegetarian-friendly countries....
Countries I struggled to find tasty vegetarian food...
Airlines with good vegetarian food...
Qatar, Thai- I suggest ordering the asian vegetarian meal which often comes with a very flavourful curry. Other airline meals can leave a lot to be desired and lack in the flavour department.