First off let me just state that it was awesome and I can’t thank the people on this site enough for all their input before we left; it was such a great help! I had such an amazing time and if you’re worried about travelling, don’t be – it’s the best thing you’ll ever do!
It’s time that I thought I’d add a little back. This topic doesn’t come up much: travelling as a vegetarian.
I went travelling with my boyfriend and we’re both vegetarians. I thought I would list how I found it in each country I went to and add any restaurants we discovered afterwards that helped us out. Anyone else who is/has been/or travelled as a vegetarian, it would be great if we could have the input of your experiences too so together we can help out other veggies who are going off travelling for the first time!
Firstly, check out – Loving Hut – an international chain of vegan restaurants worldwide. You can find them in several countries and most have local vegan menus with local dishes, which I find absolutely amazing! There are many Asian, Australian, European and State side locations; they aren’t everywhere but they’re slowly expanding!!! I only ate in two (Toronto and San Francisco) and yum yum. Perfect.
Thailand was great for veggie food, although if you are incredibly strict (e.g. you won’t eat meals cooked on the same grill as meat, you may struggle a little).
Generally, most places we ate had noodles and rice dishes with vegetables and no meat, so we never once had problems finding something. It’s the kind of country where you have to excuse your veggie dish arriving at your table with one piece of chicken in the bowl, by accident, as they’re trying their best to cook several meals. Understanding/ politeness does go far and they will correct it if you’re polite. You also should have plenty of choice at hawker stalls – we would pay 25/40 baht for vegetable pad thai (optional with scrambled egg mixed in), which was so delicious. Massaman Curry was another favourite!
I won’t lie, we crossed the border and we did have a hard time finding vegetarian ‘Malay’ food. We were on peninsular Malaysia for only two weeks and we basically survived on curry, but then again we only visited three places (Cameron Highlands, Kuala Lumpur and Penang) so it may be different in other parts…
Penang was amazing for curry, so it was heaven for Veggies. If you’re worried, just find a curry house and you’ll be fine!
In the Cameron Highlands the choice isn’t huge, so yet again it was more curry.
In Kuala Lumpur (KL), we really did struggle if I’m totally honest – maybe we didn’t try hard enough but most the menus we looked at we couldn’t find anything, so we would resort to hitting the golden arches for a large fries, or finding a pizza hut (which we had to do as well).
A note here – Nando’s DO NOT do their veggie option like they do in the UK. I don’t know how many countries this applies to, but in Malaysia, it’s not available!
Indonesia was a great country (from the tiny part of it we did see) and their food was incredibly varied, so we always ate something different and generally always had a veggie option. Their national dish Nasi Goreng was always offered without meat, or we requested it without. There was never a problem here.
We ate from a couple of street stalls in Yogyakarta and could get veggie spring rolls, fried potato things, deep fried bits of vegetable etc. If there was a limited menu in the tourist areas there was always something western instead (plain spaghetti with tomato sauce crept up quite often!).
Singapore is small, so I will keep this short- stay near/in Little India! There’s an entire street (which I will detail below in my restaurant list) of vegetarian places to eat, about 6/7 places in a row; it was heaven for us! If you stay at Fernloft (little India) then this place is a five minute walk away. Fernloft wasn’t an amazing hostel, but handy for the food!
We found OZ to be quite a challenge. We did the East Coast, Ayers Rock, Adelaide to Melbourne and the GOR. I’m sure there are many veggie places if you can afford to eat out every night, but who can afford to eat out every night as a backpacker in Australia?
Supermarket shopping was limited on options, so if you’re a veggie going on a WHV, I would suggest learning (and taking) some recipe ideas with you, so you won’t be as fucked as we were. Having pasta with tomato sauce and cheese three nights a week wasn’t appealing!
We would occasionally find things like veggie lentil burgers but they were quite dry, so we didn’t buy them regularly.
Our lifesaver here was curry though – we found ‘tasty-bite’ – they basically do curry in a foil packet that you boil for five minutes and ALL OF THEM are vegetarian. Find these generally stocked in world foods/Indian food sections. One packet is enough for two people with rice.
We drove a van round NZ for eight weeks and I’m pleased to say eating here was much easier.
Bean Supreme is a range of veggie stuff that we would get at the supermarket which we liked, normally well stocked at Pak’n’Save in the chilled meat/cheese area. Pak’n’Save also has a walk-in fridge section thing (where milk/ cheese is, really cold!) and there was always a small veggie section too with a few other bits of soups/ burgers etc. The curries I mentioned above in OZ can be found in NZ, BUT are much harder to find. We only found them in Auckland and Queenstown. If you find them in these cities, stock up!!! Not easy to find here.
I can’t say much for Fiji I’m afraid – we were there two weeks and it wasn’t very local; one week in a hotel and one on Robinson Crusoe Island. We struggled with Fiji because most islands (if you want to island hop) just say ‘we have salad’ so it isn’t helpful (and once you’re there and have paid, you’re kinda stuck). We had western food on the mainland, mainly pizza, curry (again!!) veggie spring rolls, and veggie fried rice.
On Robinsons Crusoe Island they do a proper menu so you can actually see what’s offered before you commit, which I really liked. There was a lot of potato and salad but veggie burgers, veggies curry, and veggie pizza were included, so we were really pleased they made a lot of effort for us.
This country has it sorted for veggie food (especially vegan) in the main cities, especially California.
We never had trouble here either eating Mexican or other western fast food. If you want healthier veggie options, or supermarket veggie options, check out ‘Whole Foods Market’ – it’s a chain of Grocery stores with the most impressive vegan/veggie section I have ever seen. It includes extensive fridge/ freezer produce, plus lots of food like gluten free, lactose intolerant, organic etc.
They also have a large lunch/deli/salad area where you can go in and get a hot lunch, salad, or whatever. It isn’t cheap, I won’t lie, but it’s an amazing place! They’ve got stores in London now too, which we plan to visit soon.
They also had the biggest vegan ice cream selection ever, stretching over about four freezers; it was crazy! Made us really sad to live in England where choice for vegan (which my bf would like to be) just is non-existent. We also found those ready curry packets in the states too, so look for those also if you want.
Below is a list of places to eat that I wrote down that were either veggie or had great veggie food (with either an address, or a vague attempt at my directions!)