Just because someone enjoys a meat-free diet, doesn’t mean they can’t indulge in local delicacies while on the road. In some countries vegetarian or veg-friendly eating has been historically en vogue. Thus, a delicious tradition of meat-free cuisine exists around the globe for vegetarian foodies to enjoy.
In places like India and Ethiopia, religious traditions that shun animal consumption required people to get creative with meatless dishes. And, in countries around the Mediterranean, a rich produce harvest lent itself to centuries of high veggie consumption.
Look for places with a lot of beans, rice and vegetables in their diets, recommends Andrea Giancoli, a registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association spokesperson. Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines are rich in this area, she said — think things like falafel, baba ganoush, hummus and grains like bulgur and faro.
Whether it comes to traveling abroad or stateside, Giancoli warns vegetarians not to fall into unhealthy habits. “You still have to be conscious of getting a balanced diet [when traveling,]” she said. “It’s easy to get caught up eating nothing but tortillas, pasta and cheese.”
Look to the soup, salad and sides sections on a menu to find vegetables. She also recommends scanning the entrée section for vegetarian sides that might not be listed elsewhere.
If all else fails, take a stroll through the local market to put together a meal heavy on produce.
Read on to learn about countries with historically vegetarian or veg-friendly cuisines. For this list we use a lacto-ovo vegetarian approach, but there are nods to vegans as well.