One of the most exciting parts of studying abroad is discovering a new culture through its local cuisine. But if you’re vegetarian, the idea of eating in a foreign country might seem a little bit scary. Being a vegetarian abroad, you might be wondering if you’ll be able to eat a nourished and balanced diet, and you might fear that locals won’t understand your dietary restrictions. Before you get too concerned, take a deep breath, because I have some good news for you: vegetarianism is becoming more and more popular worldwide. Wherever you choose to travel, you will surely be able to find not only adequate food but also absolutely delicious meals without missing out on the local culture. Being a vegetarian abroad is not all that hard.
While you may not be sampling iconic dishes like Germany’s bratwurst or France’s escargot, you will soon find that many aspects of local cuisine are in fact vegetarian-friendly. You will taste local fruits and vegetables that you may not have ever tried before, like England’s tayberries, or Greece’s vleeta (wild amaranth). Lots of side dishes and snacks that are key parts of local cuisine are also meat-free, from Spain’s papas bravas to Germany’s sauerkraut and kohlroulade (stuffed cabbage rolls). Of course, don’t forget the endless amounts of sweets that are available to vegetarians! Get ready to dive into Italy’s tiramisu and gelato, France’s macarons and crepe suzettes, and Greece’s baklava. The possibilities are truly endless!
Being vegetarian in a foreign city will also give you the opportunity to eat many smaller portions throughout the day, so that you end up actually trying more of the local cuisine. Stop by a bakery in the morning, head to a café for lunch, pick up a tasty treat from a street vendor in the afternoon, purchase some exotic fruits and veggies from a local market, and sample a bunch of smaller plates when you’re out to dinner. You can also try cooking some of your own meals and sharing a few of your favorites from home with your host family. Swapping some of your favorite recipes will truly make your study abroad experience more rich and meaningful.
If you find yourself in Berlin, Prague, London, Italy, or Athens, these cities are especially vegetarian-friendly. In Berlin and Prague, you’ll find dozens of cafes and restaurants that serve only vegetarian and vegan food. In London, you’ll get to experience the authentic Indian and Pakistani communities’ vegetarian-friendly dishes. Italy boasts filling and delicious pasta and pizza, while Athens’ cuisine is rich in legumes and greens. No matter where you decide to go, make sure to bring an open mind, your creativity, and an empty belly!
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