It’s not something I’ve really mentioned on the blog but at the beginning of this year I decided to turn vegetarian. To begin with having a specific dietary requirement on the road was something I was a little worried about, I was new to the whole thing and having spent the last few years pretty much eating everything (from deep fried bugs to guinea pig!) I wasn’t too sure how sustainable being vegetarian whilst travelling would be.

So having survived my first year on the road as a veggie I though I’d run through where I’ve been and how veggie friendly each country was. 

…and don’t worry I’ll be adding to the list as I continue on my adventures!

 

Why Veggie?

Before I get started though I might as well answer the question I get asked the most – why turn vegetarian in the first place?

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Gijs Tucking Into A Hefty Dinner In Ecuador!

Well for me it’s been a long time coming. Despite enjoying a good rare steak,  since I’ve been on the road I’ve found myself eating less and less meat anyway. Partially as veggie dishes are a bit friendlier on the wallet, but also because a lot of spots I wasn’t too sure how good the meat was, especially when it came to street food!

The big turning point thought was when I moved to Ecuador at the beginning of the year and was once again living with my buddy Gijs who has been veggie for years now. Living and cooking with him meant it was veggie dishes only so I thought I might as well go all in and give it a shot.

12 months and 10 countries later I’m still not eating meat!

And then of course there’s the whole hippy side of stuff which isn’t the main drive behind it but it’s still a factor, but I won’t bother getting into that with you!

…and no I won’t try and convert you to being veggie – if you want to eat meat that’s your choice and I’ve no problem with it.

Bottom line is I’m now 100% veggie (I’m no longer eating fish either) and actually feel heaps better for it!

 

How Veggie Friendly Has Travelling Been?

Having covered a solid variety of countries since turning vegetarian, over 4 continents here’s my run down of the spots I’ve explored and how easy it was to get a solid feed…

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South Africa – Surprisingly Veggie Friendly!

Ecuador – this is where it all started and it’s a pretty easy place to be veggie. Fresh food stalls are everywhere and lots of hostels have cooking facilities so it’s easy to prepare food yourself. As for restaurants and eating out I didn’t have any issues either, especially in Montanita

Peru – this was the first place I really travelled after turning veggie and it was no worries at all. Even in the small surf town on Mancora in the north it was easy to eat out and I even managed to find a few vegetarian cafes too!

Germany – to be honest I mainly cooked at my buddies place here, but even when we went out it was no worries. Sure it was a little limiting for choice but I was only there for a few days anyway!

Iceland – this was probably the most difficult place I’ve been for veggie food, but it was also due to the fact the country is insanely expensive so even finding a budget place to eat was a bit difficult! The Loft Hostel did have a kitchen though so I could’ve cooked, I just didn’t really have time too on my packed weekend schedule there!

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Even Veggie Street Food Is Easy To Find!

Portugal – restaurants in Sagres and Lagos (where I was working) both had a variety of veggie meals and the surf camps I was staying at both had kitchens, there was even a few staff who were veggie too!

South Africa – to be honest out of all the destinations I visited this year I honestly thought South Africa was going to be the hardest to be veggie. The reality though was it was actually one of the easiest! The supermarkets all stocked a variety of veggie burgers, sausages and mince and spots like Muizenberg had more than a few veggie cafes, all of which were also heaps cheap!

Thailand – you’ll have no issues in Thailand being veggie as most meals come with the option of beef, chicken or tofu so there’s a huge variety of food to choose from. My favourite is still a good veggie massaman curry!

The Philippines – I’ve covered Cebu, Siargao, Puerto Princessa, Manila, Coron and El Nido in The Philippines which were ok as a veggie, the main issue was variety though and I found myself eating the same dishes a lot, but they were pretty damn good meals anyway! Seafood is a big thing here though so if you still eat fish there’s a lot more to choose from. There’s some greta veggie restaurants in Puerto Princessa though, so make sure you check them out!

Indonesia – Bali has proved easy to eat vegetarian and much like Thailand it’s easy to request tofu or just vegetables. Many of the local restaurants have pretty big menus too so there’s a lot of variety and nasi goreng (fried rice with vegetables) is the main dish of the country so even in the most rural spot you’ve no worries.

Taiwan – Out of all the countries I’ve travelled as a vegetarian Taiwan was probably one of the toughest, although this does come down a lot to the language barrier. Luckily the first part of my trip their was on a surf tour and our Taiwanese guide was kind enough to write down the Chinses for being a non fish eating veggie, so if you’re heading there or China print this out to help avoid some unwanted surprises in your meal!

我吃素,只有不吃肉類。
蛋類、蒜頭等都可以吃。

Australia – Although Aussies love their BBQs full of meat and seafood being a veggie there is pretty easy, especially when you’re cooking for yourself at hostels. There are plenty of meat alternatives on offer too – from burgers and sausages to full blown roast dinners! Being based in Byron Bay made it super easy too, there are a whole heap of vegan/veggie/gluten free options throughout town!

New Zealand – Like Australia, New Zealand is pretty easy to travel around as a veggie. Again you have a good range of meat free alternatives and being able to cook at hostels means that you shouldn’t have much issue. Sure some restaurant menus are limited but it’s not a big problem.

 

South East Asia Is Certainly One Of The Easiest Places As A Veggie

South East Asia Is Certainly One Of The Easiest Places As A Veggie

Travelling As A Vegetarian 

So how hard has it been travelling as a vegetarian? 

Well to be honest its varied from country to country but overall not too hard actually.

Of course in some places you might find yourself pretty limited on dishes you can eat and occasionally pizza, pasta and salads are the only options – but for the most part I’ve not really found it an issue, and travelling is certainly not going to be a deciding factor if I ever go back to eating meat…not that I intend too!

It also hasn’t been a worry on any of the trips or tours I’ve been on, or on flights either – as long as you give people advanced warning it shouldn’t be an issue.

Just don’t turn up expecting to find a veggie option or you might end up going hungry or just eating rice! I’ve forgotten to put in a meal request on a couple of flights now (luckily not too long haul!) and it sucks, so remember to do it!

So yeah – if you’re veggie yourself don’t let it hold you back going off and seeing the world, who knows you might even convert when you’re on the road too!

 

Are you vegetarian? How have you found being a veggie on the road?

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19 Responses

  1. Pixie

    Great that you’ve decide to go veggie and are happy about it! :) personally I’m vegan, and I’m currently travelling through SE Asia, and yep sometimes it’s really tough! But there’s so many options here even when I’ve forgotten to mention it on tours it’s always worked out. Plus I’m spending a lot less on food than my partner haha ;)

    Reply
    • Chris

      hahahaha yeah that’s a great plus side hey Pixie…definitely cheaper to eat veggie! I can’t say I could go vegan though, small steps at a time!

      Reply
  2. Lisette

    This is pretty great to read! Good to know you haven’t regretted your choice! I myself am also going to give vegetarianism a go – it’s pretty easy so far. I might go vegan one day but I think it’s a lot more difficult :)
    Lisette recently posted..Jazzy Tiel, 5/11/2014My Profile

    Reply
    • Chris

      Surprisingly easy hey Lisette! Totally don’t regret it at all! Yeah the whole vegan thing seems a bit too difficult for me too!

      Reply
  3. Emma Mann

    Surprisingly, most of Africa can be pretty vegetarian friendly. I’ve not had meat of fish for around five years now, and the most trouble I have is explaining to African mamas that just because I CAN afford meat, doesn’t mean I WANT to. Utter confusion on their side, laughter on mine. Surprisingly, Ethiopia is veggie heaven!
    Emma Mann recently posted..10 things about Ethiopia that might surprise youMy Profile

    Reply
    • Chris

      I always enjoy the fact that most people don’t class chicken as meat either! Ethiopia hey? Guess I’ll have to pay it a visit and check it out!

      Reply
  4. Ashlea Wheeler

    I’ve been vego for over 2 years now and have found travelling as a vegetarian to be both difficult and easy – Eastern Europe was especially hard, but Western Europe wasn’t so bad. Thailand and Indonesia were fairly easy too! Though I think it depends on where you go in each country – I even have trouble in Australia sometimes, especially when I head to rural areas :P
    Ashlea Wheeler recently posted..10 of the best undiscovered attractions in EuropeMy Profile

    Reply
    • Chris

      Yeah it’s weird how places you think will be difficult aren’t and those places you thought it would be easy turn out to be a nightmare!

      Reply
  5. Patricia

    I was going to say “Good luck on being vegetarian!” but I think that it’s cool that you didn’t find it very hard to go veggie while traveling! What were their names of the Filipino dishes you liked? Have you tried tortang talong (eggplant omelettes) and ginataang puso ng saging (banana heart cooked in coconut milk)? :)
    Patricia recently posted..What do Filipinos have for noche buena?My Profile

    Reply
    • Chris

      I haven’t actually tried either of those Patricia! Guess that’s on my to try list for my return there next month!

      Reply
  6. siewjye

    Hi, I just found your blog because I am planning a solo trip to Cambodia. I am a vegetarian too. i don’t consume eggs intentionally, though I do have pastries and whatnot that contain eggs in ingredients. I’m glad to hear that you’re a vegetarian and you actually like it. You make an excellent role model and example that proves that there is no problem travelling as a vegetarian. Really enjoy your blog posts and travel guides. I have subscribed. =)

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hey Siewjye,
      You’ll love Cambodia – such a great place to travel and heaps cheap too! Indeed travelling as a veggie isn’t too bad actually, I can’t say I’ve done Cambodia since I went veggie though, let me know how you get on!

      Reply
  7. Melinda

    This was a very nice entry! I am a vegetarian myself and have been looking at several blogs to see how difficult or easy it is to travel as a vegetarian and this has been my favourite so far. I’d just like to point out that Thailand uses a lot of fish sauce in their dishes. As someone who worked at a Thai restaurant before, the dishes that were claimed to be “vegetarian” were not completely vegetarian. Yes there was no meat and tofu was a substitute, but the sauce would contain fish sauce. The owners didn’t see that as “non-vegetarian”. I don’t know if they weren’t aware of that or in their understanding vegetarian just means no pieces of meat and sauces don’t count. I’m also surprised that many of the places I thought that wouldn’t be vegetarian friendly turned out to friendly. Adding them to the list of places I’d like to visit!

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hey Melinda,
      Glad you liked the post! To be honest I’m not super hardcore veggie so I go with the ignorance is bliss thing when it comes to sauce and travelling…I don’t eat fish anymore either but sometimes its more hassle than it’s worth arguing over ingredients – guess it depends on your reasons for going veggie though!
      Any places you’d add to the list?

      Reply
  8. Melissa

    I really enjoyed this topic! Im also a vegetarian and about to hit my year mark this October. That same month I will be starting my first backpacking trip to europe for 10 weeks. This was tremendously helpful since it was one of my main concerns. The countries that I’m going to are Ireland, Uk, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain. If you have any advice or experience from any of these countries I would love to hear it! (:
    Melissa recently posted..Sun, Sea And Surf – Another Perfect Weekend In Byron Bay (VIDEO)My Profile

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hey Melissa,
      Congrats on hitting a year! Hmmmm Europe I’m not too clued up on but I know UK, Ireland and Switzerland should be fine…to be honest I’m sure all of them would be as the EU is pretty accommodating! Let me know how you get on though and I can update the list!

      Reply
  9. Matt

    My girlfriend is vegetarian and has been for about 15 years. This is one of our biggest worries when travelling South East Asia at the end of this year for 6 months. We will be visiting the usual culprits like Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines etc. so do you know any phrases that may help when ordering food to ensure there is no meat?

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hey Matt, a lot of those spots will speak pretty good English so it’ll be easy – however I’d download Google Translate to help out a bit too if you’re in more local or rural places!

      Reply
  10. David

    Yep we have many vegetarian and vegan people come here to the Happy House Organic farm – we don’t promote the fact our meals are great for vegetarians and vegans seeing we are mainly focused on organic farm stays but we get so many great comments about our meals which are plant-based from our organic farm.

    So if you are over this neck of the woods in Luzon in the Philippines and heading towards the Rice Terraces look us up – we are on google maps.

    Reply

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