In some countries, being “vegetarian” is a foreign concept. “So, you don’t eat cows?” “You eat chickens though right?” “Wait, so how do you survive?”
Following a veggie diet while travelling can be an absolute dream (Bali, Thailand, Australia) but it can also be a nightmare and lead to many hungry nights (Japan, China, Iceland). So here are a few tips to surviving in a meat lovers city, followed by my top veggie haunts across the globe.
What to do when you can’t find vegetables
“I’ll manage” is my initial reaction. Hit the fourth, fifth, sixth restaurant and there is still no vegetarian option, I feel myself slumping. This is the bane of travel and it often gets to the point where I’m verging on malnourishment and sheer exhaustion that I make terrible decisions. That’s why I want to share my quickly learned tips from bad circumstances.
Just go to a supermarket?
Easy enough to say, but what if there’s none within 1hr walking distance and you’re hungry now? Case and point, Japan. We would go on food expeditions and regularly come back with Mc Donald’s fries (if we were lucky) or Pocky. The trick is to stock up when you find a supermarket as 7/11s don’t always have a very healthy, nutritious range.
Here is a sample shopping list from my trip to Iceland:
Why not just eat the local fare?
Travel shouldn’t force you to abandon your morals/dietary requirements. Yes it’s great to be adventurous, but the pain eating meat again would cause my stomach would make my trip miserable, and I’m just not happy about giving in over something I strongly believe in.
In saying this, I’m dairy intolerant, but often I’ll cave due to no other option. It’s surprising how our bodies can process things once they go into survival mode, so unless you’re fatally allergic, this can be a good thing to take into account.
What’s the cheapest veggie meal plan?
I feel as though I have this down to an art now. A quick nip into the supermarket and rather than being overwhelmed, I know what to buy.
Travel tip: When in Asian countries, ask for a buddhist meal.
Travel with a bag of muesli and buy yoghurt and bananas whenever you find a convenience store. A bag of muesli will last you a long time and a bit of sugar will give you a boost. If you’re going somewhere without refrigeration, find some long-life soy or almond milk.
Bread rolls/loaf of bread is the perfect option if you can buy them fresh and even better with some nice veggies, but sometimes you have to opt for instant soup/noodles or cheese and crackers.
I love wraps! Mexican style is always great and tortillas keep forever. You can put cold beans in for protein and delicious flavour. Top with any veggies you have and some cheese.
Travel tip: Make sure you get enough protein by eating lots of peanut butter, trail mix, legumes/beans, yoghurt, edamame and muesli bars.
Suck it up and buy yourself a very humble instant coffee, then ask any fast food chain or cafe for a cup of hot water and you’re sorted! Most high end supermarkets such as Waitrose also offer free hot coffee to shoppers also.
My favourite veggie places in the world
Nalu will satisfy your acai cravings and definitely has the best smoothies and smoothie bowls on Oahu.
AI LOVE NALO, HAWAII
Go for a surf on the east coast beaches and satisfy your ravenous hunger with a hearty Buddha bowl. You can choose from a range of different combinations, but my roast vegetable one was a winner.
MORPHO CAFE, KYOTO
Vegan food in Kyoto! This place was so good we returned 3 times. They use soy meat in their burgers and lots of interesting flavour combinations. The vegan ramen was a hit and so was the panko crumbed burger.
AND SUSHI, AUCKLAND
Pick your own sushi is always my favourite because I love trying different flavours. &Sushi is so beautifully presented that it’s almost too pretty to eat! (Just kidding, I demolish it every time)
Portobello mushroom burger in a brioche bun with an over-easy egg. Need I say more?
Possibly one of the nicest flavour combinations I’ve ever had. The citrus strongly cuts through the pungent balsamic and the nuttiness of the sprouts goes perfectly with the soft avo. Ask for the “fitness bowl”.
PIZZERIA NAPOLI, WELLINGTON
Italian food is often a breeze for me, there’s always some delicious vegetarian option. Napoli do insane Neapolitan pizza and are VPN certified, as well as a gorgeous spinach and ricotta pasta.
Aussies know how to do a big breakfast. This one in particular was outstanding.
MELTING WOK, UBUD
I often think about this curry because it was the best green curry I’ve ever had. Back in the day I had it with snapper, but they also do the same thing with tofu!
Work your way through the menu because everything is as delicious as these smoothies look.
Trendy Melbourne once again impresses with this hip cafe that popped up about a year ago, serving up a range of superfood smoothies, and the glowing clientele are enough to convince you that they are feeding you the good stuff.
CRATE CAFE, CANGGU
An Instagram favourite, everything Crate serve is beautiful, healthy and full of local flavour. Everything is vegetarian and made to order.
Found the hippest little cafe in the middle of nowhere on a dusty stretch of road in Canggu. Such good vibes. Best smoothie of my life – no bells and whistles and ingredients I can't pronounce, just fresh fruit and made with love. Also had a laugh with the super lovely boys who made it for me, who told us all their favourite party spots (which turned out to be great) thanks guys! CRATE is a must visit in Bali ✈️ #bali #tidaktaxis #soundschill #zaaad @michelleylu
GOOD LIFE EATERY, LONDON
Watch the Chelsea soccer moms pile in for their green smoothies, but try one and you’ll know why their so popular. Also try the Choc Norris cacao smoothie, they are pretty damn good!
SUPERIORITY BURGER, NYC
Vegetarian paradise! The whole menu is veg and vegan friendly and they change it up often. Head chef Brooks Headley left Mario Batali’s fine dining restaurant to set up his own hole-in-the-wall burger joint, which has a cult following of burger lovers seeking out the best value meal in town. I can’t rave about this place enough.
CAMP CURRY, JAPAN
Camp was honestly a saviour in Japan. Thankfully it’s a chain so there’s one in most major cities and they all have a vegetarian option. Hidden in the depths of train station basements, we even spent two hours looking for one after we got the taste for them. A traditional British stew with a spicy tang, made with the freshest seasonal vegetables, served in a hot skillet. Best travel food find.
LEMONGRASS NOODLE, BARBADOS
This Thai green curry will clear out your sinuses!
MY KITCHEN, NEW ZEALAND
Comfort food is always something I miss when travelling. The go-to common flavours I always use, balsamic vinegar, lots of chilli, lots of pepper. It’s one of the great things about returning home from a trip, you can create all the meals you missed and really appreciate them.
Do you ever make those dinners were you ask yourself why you haven't already been chosen for Masterchef? Yeah, this was one of them. 100% plant-based goodness 🌱 • paprika/cinnamon potato & sweet potato fries w lemon emulsion, and lettuce cups w green beans, cumin/chilli chickpeas, pesto, chilli salsa, topped w grilled halloumi 😋 Bon appetit! #OliviaRoundAuckland
If you’d like recommendations for specific cities or have any questions, please feel free to send me a message below and I’ll try and help the best I can. Also let me know if you’ve found any more delicious places to check out, or have any tricks of your own.
Veggie friends, we’re in this together ♡