It always surprises me that people think being a vegetarian would make travel harder. Truth is, it’s something I rarely think about. I’ve traveled to around 60 countries in the world and have always found vegetarian food. True, sometimes there may only be one option (Mongolia I’m looking at you!), but in most other places there’s a magnitude of foods to try and most of them are absolutely delicious. Next time you’re traveling, take the ethical option and choose one of these dishes. I guarantee you’ll be blown away – I’ve also listed some recipes for you to try at home!
1. Masala Dosa – India
When it comes to vegetarian cuisine, India is the king of all. Around 80% of the Indian population is vegetarian, and you can literally find vegetarian food everywhere. In fact, in some states and cities you won’t find meat on sale at all due to religious reasons. Indian’s have really mastered vegetarian cooking, and from North to South, there’s so much variety and it’s all so incredible. I could have listed so many dishes here but I opted for my very favorite, and a South Indian breakfast staple – the Masala Dosa. Essentially a big crispy pancake filled with delicious potato curry and served with sambar’s on the side.
Try at home: Masala Dosa Recipe via Cooked.com
2. Vegetarian Bibimbap – South Korea
East Asia is an area of the world where vegetarians and vegans may struggle. I’ve traveled to a number of countries in the region and although you can come across your difficulties, it is possible to find vegetarian dishes. In Tokyo I ate mountains of vegan ramen and vegetarian tempura. In Taiwan I fell hard for crispy Taiwanese pancakes filled with a fried egg, chilli sauce and cheese. And check out my favorite Chinese dish below. The Bibimbap, the a staple in the South Korean diet, is a bowl filled with rice, kimchi, vegetables, sometimes crispy tofu and topped with a fried egg. It’s tasty and filling and you’ll find it in street markets across Seoul. One helpful tip for traveling in South Korea, Japan and China is to have a local write down the local phrase for ‘I am a vegetarian’ on a piece of card you can keep in your wallet. Often I found the main problem was translation problems, rather than lack of vegetarian options.
3. Harira Soup – Morocco
Morocco is a wonderful country to travel through as a vegetarian. You’ll find the markets are filled with fresh vegetables and fruits and the local cuisines are often not short of it too. Vegetable tagine and cous cous are a few you’ll find on just about every menu up and down the country. Berbere eggs is another favorite, a dish of baked eggs similar to Shashuka. My favorite though is Harira Soup, a filling dish often eaten during Ramadan to break the fast. The hot delicious bowl is filled with lentils, chickpeas, pasta, and tons of coriander. Eat it with fresh Moroccan bread and dates. You’ll find street stalls selling Harira up and down the country, and it often only costs a couple of dirums.
Try at home: Moroccan Harira Soup recipe via Food and Travel
4. Aubergine Parmigiana – Italy
Italy is another hot food destination for vegetarians. Of couse we all know Pizza and pasta, and it’s very easy to find vegetarian varieties of both. Another favorite for me is Parmigiana, a melt of soft egg plant, cheese and tomato sauce. Each one is slightly different which is why it’s worth trying them all. Top it off with a gelato and you’ve got a pretty incredible meal.
Try at home: Aubergine Parmigiana Recipe via Jamie Oliver
5. Gado Gado – Indonesia
I somehow still haven’t been to Indonesia, but it remains high on my list for so many reasons. One of those being – the food! Gado Gado is an Indonesian vegetable salad dripping in peanut sauce. It’s rather delicious with a side of rice, and when I finally do get to Indonesia I plan on spending a lot of time trying all the street food varieties I can find. Other dishes include Nasi Goreng – stir fried rice, and coconut pancakes.
Try at home: Indonesian Gado Gado via Lazy Cat Kitchen
6. Daal Bhat – Nepal
Like India, Nepal is a country which really caters for vegetarians. The blend of traditional Nepali foods and Tibetan cuisines as well as international fare make the country a treat for the senses, especially in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Head into the mountain villages and you’ll find one staple on every single menu, and in every single home: Daal Bhat. Similar to an Indian Thali, Daal Bhat is a number of different dishes on one plate, served always with rice and lentil daal. Other dishes are usually vegetable curry, a small salad and pickle. After weeks trekking though mountains, it can get a little monotonous, although you can’t deny that it’s tasty, filling and gives you ’24 hour Daal Bhat power’ as the Nepalis say!
Try at home: Daal Bhat Recipe via A Life Full of Serendipity
7. Quinoa Soup – Peru
I’ve never made it to South America, and I’ve heard mixed reviews about the vegetarian cuisine there. I’ve heard Peru is one of the best countries to travel meatless in, thanks to diet staples like Quinoa. A dish I’m very intrigued to try is their Quinoa Soup, which takes the quinoa and avocado craze to the next level. It looks hearty and flavorsome and I’m excited to try it out at home – as well as hopefully one day getting to Peru to try the real deal!
Try at home: Sopa de Quinua via The Vegetarianivarna
8. Fatteh – Lebanon
The middle east is a wonderful place to travel as a vegetarian. Hummus, falafel, beans and salads make up a huge part of the diet and breakfasts are just an incredible spread of all sorts of vegetarian delights. A rather wonderful and unique dish which you really must try if you visit the region is Fatteh, traditionally a Lebanese dish. It’s made up of toasted pitta breads, warm chickpeas, yogurt sauce and topped with nuts, coriander and additional pitta chips. Delicious!
Try at home: Chickpea Fatteh via The Dallah Menu
9. Yetsom Beyaynetu – Ethiopia
A country which often rivals India in being the most vegetarian friendly country in the world is Ethiopia. This is because most of the country is Orthodox Christian, and so on several days of the week they choose to be vegan for religious reasons. Because of this, vegetarian and vegan food is easy to get across the country, and one of the most common dishes is Yetsom Beyaynetu – think a Ethiopian Thali served on a flatbread instead of a banana leaf. The flatbread is called a injera, and is made from fermented teff flour. On top of that you’ll get mounds of all sorts of delicious stuff – shiro which is made from chickpea powder, red lentils, greens and more.
Try at home: Yetsom Beyaynetu via Petit World Citizen
10. Chinese Spicy Garlic Eggplant (Yu Xiang Qie Zi) – China
When I went to China I found that being a vegetarian had its ups and downs. While I sometimes was stuck with a bland plate of veggie fried rice, other times I was treated to plates of deliciously cooked vegetables, dim sums and stews. It’s important in China to be clear what a vegetarian does and doesn’t eat – many thought I ate fish, or even chicken. Once it was cleared up that I didn’t, then actually there are a lot of traditional Chinese dishes you can try. I love eggplant, so naturally Yu Xiang Qie Zi became my favorite dish. The eggplant is cooked perfectly with a spicy garlic sauce and served with steamed rice.
Have you tried vegetarian food when you’ve traveled? Tell us your favorite dish in the comments below!