Trying local food while traveling is one of my favorite things about being abroad, but as a vegetarian it can sometimes be difficult. I used to be a strict vegetarian so I know the hassle it can be, but I spent five months in China and survived!
Some countries are extremely vegetarian friendly, as they themselves don’t have a lot of meat in their diet (Nepal), but in others the term ‘vegetarian’ is as foreign to them as you are (Chile). While vegetarian foods are easily found in Nepal, if you are a meat eater, beef may be hard to find as Nepal due to religiously-based dietary restrictions. And while meat is a staple of the Chilean diet, it’s possible to eat vegetarian.
Even though a menu may be written in English, the names may still be completely foreign to you. We’ve outlined some of the options you will find to help you navigate the menus.
The most common dishes in Nepal are ones that you will become familiar with during your time there:
- Dal bhat – This simple national dish is a staple in the Nepali diet, and it is generally eaten twice a day. Dal means “lentil”, and bhat means “rice.” For more information about Dal Bhat read our post completely dedicated to the dish here.
- Tarkari – Vegetable curry. Served alongside the ubiquitous Dal Bhat. Affectionately known as “DBT” (dal bhat tarkari) when taken as a complete meal.
- Momos - Momos are delicious steamed dumplings offered with buffalo, vegetarian, and chicken options. Don’t miss the annual spring Momo Mania in Kathmandu!
For those of us that prefer veggies to meat, some tasty options to munch on in Chile include:
- Humitas – The Chilean version of tamales
- Tomitcan – A strew tomatoes, corn and onions. Sometimes meat is added in, but you can ask for a vegetarian version.
- Veggie omelets - Spanish “tortilla” — always available on the trail. Good source of protein for those long days of walking.
- Quinoa – A power grain native to South America. Super tasty.
Eating while abroad can be a very foreign experience, but that’s half the fun! If you don’t have strict dietary restrictions, maybe try to branch out and try some local foods that you may not eat were you at home. You never know what deliciousness you will find and never have the opportunity to eat again. If you have have district constraints, please let us know so that we can be prepared. While it may not be funny when your stomach is growling and you are getting “hangry” (hungry-angry), the story off your “veggie” pasta showing up with pieces of hot dog in it, will be laughable when you get home and will bring back the rest of your memories from your trip.
*Photo courtesy of: http://eatingchile.blogspot.com/2011/05/vegetarian-chile.html