As we get ready for another trip, I’ve been doing some research and preparing for various food issues that might come up as a result of being a vegetarian. I haven’t eaten meat, poultry, or fish – basically anything sentient – for over seven years. With me, as with some people, that’s changed the way I physically react to some forms of meat, so I now have to be more careful about my choices and how I express myself to others as I travel around the world.
As I was considering this, I came up with a few thoughts on how vegetarians can make their lives easier while on the road:
1. Know your body
I know that red meat will make me immediately ill. I know that if there’s a chance there’s red meat involved, I’ll be ill. So, I really should stay away from that. However, time and again, I have put myself in a situation where I thought if I picked something off, it would be okay, or figured sharing a dipping sauce would be no big deal. Know what you get sick from – or what you don’t. If you can manage to take a risk now and again, do so; do not bother wasting a night feeling awful.
2. Make sure you’re clear on what ‘vegetarian’ means
Even in Canada, people think ‘vegetarian’ means I eat fish. Though I was a big sushi fan, this is not the case. I’ve had a bunch of confusion all over about what I eat, so if you want to make sure you’re getting food that you can eat (or at least, not send back), ask if it has meat, fish or poultry in it, to be clear. Tell people what you can or can’t eat, rather than tell them what you are.
3. Be adventurous with what you can have
This is not the time to be picky. There’s delicious vegetarian and vegan food around the world, and some of it might look a bit unusual. Being weirded out by that is not going to get you fed. Try something new – the worst thing that happens is you don’t like it.
4. Get some helpful tech
If you have access to portable technology like an iPhone or an Android phone, there’s apps out there that you can have on hand to help you find vegetarian and vegan eats, or get your veggie needs across more easily. For the iPhone, I have Veggie Passport, which will tell people what you can and can’t eat in multiple languages, and VegMan, that finds veggie restaurants nearby worldwide.
5. Take healthy snacks with you for emergency situations
I actually think everyone should do this, as hunger is a pernicious evil, out to destroy happy travel days! Good snacks can help in all situations, and options can suck anywhere in the world. This trip, I’m going to try out Nud Fud, which was featured recently on Dragons’ Den. It looks like there’s versions with good protein available, which is a nice option – I find portable protein tough!
What do you do if you’re offered meat in someone’s home, or a similar situation? I haven’t come up against this yet, and in some parts of the world, I’m not sure I could turn down what was offered to me in sincere hospitality, even if it would make me ill. I’d love to hear for other vegetarian travellers – how do you handle this sort of situation?
Frommer’s has an awesome countdown of the 10 Best Cities for Vegetarian Travelers.
I really enjoyed A Little Adrift’s candid post on being vegetarian in China. I’d wondered about this! Shannon’s tips are great for any Veggie traveller!