Once the flights are booked, language apps downloaded, guidebooks and recommendations tucked into a carry-on, and landmarks mapped out, travelers are left with just one task — enjoying and discovering the local scene and cuisine of a chosen destination. Escaping your comfort zone and trying new things are a major part of what makes travel so absorbing and infectious. But not all recommendations work for all kinds of travelers. Case in point — the vegetarian traveler.
It’s easy to tell someone not to miss the steak frites in Paris, but it wouldn’t hold the same fascination for that someone if they were to order it sans steak. While certain countries, like Spain or Ireland, are partial to carnivore-friendly dishes, others are inherently friendlier to veggie-loving travelers.
Making an enormous stride for both local and visiting vegetarians, Ghent, Belgium instated “Veggiedag” (or Veggie Day) in 2009, which calls for a meat-free day per week in the city. That means everywhere from schools to public buildings go veggie once a week and while it’s not a mandatory movement, it’s been a popular one.
Asian cuisines are intrinsically vegetarian-friendly. Most dishes comprise of rice and a veggie-based sauce with nuts and dried fruits often playing a role, while even non-rice dishes tend to come with a choice of either meat or veggies. Indian cuisine is a great example — everything from pakoras to tikka masala can come with vegetables instead of meat and be delicious, spicy, and satisfying.
For the pescetarians, Japanese food is great, but even those who aren't into sea life can find shojin ryori, the traditional vegetarian Zen Buddhist cooking, and even dine at temples. Rice, ramen, and tempura with veggies as well as various tofu-based dishes and exotic sea vegetables like nori are all readily available throughout Japan.
Clearly, traveling as a vegetarian is all about choosing a great destination that already celebrates the foods you love to eat. It should never mean feeling like you have to be less adventurous when you’re eating abroad. So hop on a plane and delve into the cuisines of one of these eight particularly veggie-friendly countries.