When traveling, many people discover that they actually need fewer things than they once thought. If you want it to be, life can surprisingly simple.

I’m happy with a bed to sleep in, a few changes of clothes, and my phone to help out with local maps, translation, keeping in touch, and entertainment.

And a few meals a day, of course. Sound easy? It is! But many think finding these meals would be a challenge for me while traveling since I am a vegetarian.

My favorite pasta dish in Italy

It’s true that many cultures around the world eat very meat-heavy diets, and the concept of vegetarianism isn’t too popular.

But I have never gone hungry anywhere. I’ve eaten a few strange meals, usually on my first day somewhere, but in the end vegetarian food is always accessible without any worries.

Spring rolls and egg coffee in Vietnam

If you are also vegetarian and you’re worried about an upcoming trip, here are my best tips:

Learn a little about the food before you go. No matter where you’re heading, it only takes a quick google search to discover the most popular dishes. Find out if any of the common local cuisine is suited for your diet. Then keep a look out for these items on menus.

Learn how to say “vegetarian” or “I don’t want meat” in the local language. When I lived in China, I would just say “bu yao rou” (don’t want meat) if I couldn’t figure out the menu. A few minutes later, I’d be handed something vegetarian. Thailand has been a little trickier as not all food vendors will make something vegetarian for me, but if I say “mungsawirat” (vegetarian) I will usually at least be pointed to a place that can serve me.

My first couple meals in China

Combine sides to make a meal. I have actually done this my whole vegetarian life, even prior to my time abroad. It’s why I constantly reassure my friends that I can figure out something to eat no matter what restaurant they choose. I don’t need any of my food to be labeled a “main course.” Give me a salad, potatoes, and some beans. Altogether it fills me up just fine.

Look for western restaurants. We’ve yet to visit any city that didn’t have a least a couple western restaurants. Even if the traditional local meals always include meat, you’ll likely find some familiar vegetarian food on a more international menu.

Talk to other travelers or expats. Meeting fellow vegetarian or vegan travelers has been very common for me. I’ve probably met more abroad than I did back home. Ask them where they have been eating and share tips.

Pastries, crepes, cheese, and chocolate in France – maybe not the healthiest, but it’s all vegetarian 🙂

Go to the grocery store. If you’re really stuck (which, again, has honestly never happened to me) then you are guaranteed to find vegetarian food at the grocery store. There isn’t a country in the world that isn’t selling rice, beans, potatoes, fruit, and veggies at the market.

Cooking in India

Pack your own. This is completely unnecessary, but it can give you some peace of mind if you are still worried. The first time I left the country I was heading to Tanzania and I had no idea what to expect. I stuck several jars of peanut butter in my bag for safety.

I’d love to hear from other vegetarian travelers! How do you usually find the best food abroad? What country was best for meat-free diets? And where was it more of a challenge?






  • Great tips. We only gave up meat back in November so it’s still pretty new for us. We are going to look for cooking classes when we get to Thailand in a few weeks. We’ve heard groceries are more expensive then eating out in Thailand, is this true?