Categories: Meal, Travel

Top 5 vegetarian friendly countries to visit

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Traveling around the world is great. But taking care of your nutritional needs while traveling shouldn’t be an afterthought. Gone are the days when being a vegetarian/vegan meant your options were severely limited. We’ve been traveling around the world for years, and we’re here to tell you its not only easy to meet your nutritional needs while traveling, its easy to modify local cuisine to suit your needs.

So, whether you’re a vegetarian, or simply want to try out more vegetarian cuisines, keep reading. We’ve got 5 of our favorite countries to visit that have no limitation of vegetarian friendly dishes on offer!

India

India is a culinary paradise and for good measures. The country is full of vibrant dishes that come in different flavors, tastes, and textures. One of the biggest misconceptions about Indian cuisine is that its hot and spice heavy. There are dishes that are spicy, but Indian cuisine as a whole is not bound by it.

Traveling across India is one of the best ways of exploring the country and its culture. Every state has a different language and different culinary profile. If you’re traveling by road, you can see these shifts every in real time every few hundred miles.

Although India has loads of non-vegetarian dishes, there are tons of vegetarian options as well. Some of the most commonly used ingredients are green leafy vegetables, seasonal root veggies and fruits, cottage cheese (also called paneer), plenty of kidney beans & chickpeas, and pantry staples like grains, pulses, nuts & seeds, and spices.

Depending on where you’re traveling, your options will keep changing in variety. If you’re in Southern India, rice flour pancakes (dosa), or steamed rice cakes dipped in a taste heavy sambhar & chutney for example is a breakfast staple. If you travel more towards the north, you’ll find more foods that are rich in natural protein sources like dals and peas.

Vegetarianism born out of religious beliefs is also predominant in certain states, and rest assured there will be numerous vegetarian dishes for you to try.

Lastly, let’s not forget that India is the birthplace of Ayurveda, and cooking in that tradition is all about eating light, fresh and healthy!

Other South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam

These countries can also help if you’re a vegetarian traveling to these places. These cuisines are known to be based in meat & fish sauce (used as an accompaniment with a lot of dishes), but they also have a lot of vegetarian options, mainly owing to its Buddhist populations. There is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables which can be seen in their dishes.

Green papaya, banana blossom and mango salads are a must try. Summer rolls are amazingly fresh and stuffed with veggies, sprouts & herbs. If you are not fond of fish sauce, you can substitute it with peanut sauce. It’s made from roasted peanuts & peanut butter, and its not only rich in nutrients but tastes amazing! Meat and animal products can be easily substituted with tofu in most dishes like Pad Thai and Green Curry, and the addition of vegetables to South Asian dishes makes it an even better choice. Pho is a must try if you’re in Vietnam. Noodle soup made with loads of veggies and garnished with herbs and sprouts makes for a very hearty meal.

Vietnam uses a lot of condensed milk in its recipes, so that’s something to be mindful of if you’re vegan. A good tip for finding vegetarian food is to look for restaurants located around temples/monasteries. Language can be a barrier in South Asia, so be sure to communicate your needs clearly.

Israel

Third on our list is the Middle East. Granted there’s a lot of meat-based dishes that are considered staple in the region, there’s also the good old hummus & falafel with a side of pita! If you don’t mind eating eggs, then Shakshuka is a must try. It’s a one pan recipe made with eggs, tomato, spinach, potato, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and spices. Israeli cuisine has a lot of balanced flavors peppered with freshness that comes from locally grown produce and its sun kissed climate.

Israel in recent years has focused a lot on promoting itself as vegetarian/vegan friendly, and there’s no shortage of options when it comes to eateries serving up delicious, plant-based meals thanks to its cosmopolitan environment.

Seychelles, Africa

Seychelles was named the world’s most vegetarian friendly country in a study conducted by the Global Vegetarian Index. There have been a lot of cultural shifts that has led to Seychelles topping the list. As an island nation in western Indian Ocean, it still has to face certain limitations such as high cost of exporting produce. And that is what makes this achievement even more special.

A lot of awareness has been raised to make sure healthy food habits were implemented not just when it came to eating at home, but also in restaurants and cafes. If you’re in Seychelles, expect being approached by hotel/restaurant staff enquiring about your dietary preferences so that they can customize their menu for you. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Salad bars are a common site, and vegetarian soups are plenty!

** We have retreats in Africa… See here…

Ethiopia

Owing to its firm roots in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Wednesdays and Fridays are still considered meat free days in many parts of the country. Ethiopia also has a tradition of vegetarianism and fasting, and its regular food can be made vegetarian/vegan friendly easily.

Injera is a large, thin pancake that is used as a base in most meals. It’s accompanied by a hearty mix of lentils, beans, peas, spinach, and cauliflower, slow cooked in local sauces made from berbere or a mix of spices such as chili and turmeric. Legumes and root vegetables are grown locally and used to make a variety of stews. Ethiopia has a rich history of eating with your hands, from a shareable platter. Ethiopian cuisine is an experience like no other!

A traditional Ethiopian platter will consist of injera, salad, lentil stews with loads of veggies, and cooked leafy vegetables. Greek baklava is also found commonly, which can be made vegan by using maple syrup.

No matter where you are in the world, you’ll likely see an abundance of restaurants/cafes adhering to vegetarianism or veganism, especially in places with a high tourist population. Vegetarianism is becoming a lifestyle for many people, and destinations are catering more and more to individual tastes, beliefs, and dietary restrictions.

At The Whole Experience, we organize our retreats with a complete vegetarian menu, specially curated by local chefs adhering to nutritional standards. So, if you’re unable to go on a gastronomical tour around the world, why not join one of our retreats? We’ll have your itinerary completely laid out for you, and all you need to do is show up, and focus on your health and wellness. For more information, click here.

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