Eating Vegetarian in Europe is Easy

Posted on August 18, 2011

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Europe has tons of fresh veggie markets.

This article covers the basics of eating as a vegetarian or vegan while traveling or living in Europe. We provide important vegetarian phrases, tips on cooking for yourself, and websites that will help you research and find vegetarian friendly restaurants anywhere you travel.

By Kristen Sandstrom

Traveling may satisfy the hunger for spontaneity, but does it suit the selective diet of a vegetarian?  The downside of traveling in Europe is that the continent doesn’t appear very ‘veg’ friendly on the surface. Statistically, America’s meat eaters have far more non-meat eating counterparts than the rest of the world. If you’re a vegetarian, don’t let this put a damper on your travels. Do your research to find vegetarian and vegan options that will leave you with a full belly and a smile on your face.

There are several ways to accommodate a vegetarian lifestyle while traveling or living abroad, including:

Do it yourself: You can make your own vegetarian meals in your apartment or hostel kitchen. Europe’s famous open-air fresh food markets sell endless seasonal produce — vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, pastas, rice, spices, and dried fruit. Cooking abroad provides a window into another culture. A visit to one of these markets is an experience in itself and allows you time to practice your language skills with the locals.

Go out: When the luxury of a kitchen isn’t readily available, there are vegetarian restaurants all over Europe. Although they are often hidden, you only have to look in the right places! Your taste buds are in for a real treat when dining at one of the vegetarian friendly restaurants listed by country on the website Happy Cow.  The European Vegetarian Union is also great resource for vegetarians in Europe and provides readers with information about local vegetarian events.

If your travel companions choose a restaurant that serves meat, it is helpful to know basic “veg” friendly phrases. Remember to be polite to your server when getting the “no meat” point across. A lot of restaurants make vegetarian friendly options, and recognizing this on a menu is half the battle. For vegans or vegetarians who avoid fish and eggs, you might have to do some extra research. The term “Vegetarian” is vague and often means different things in different cultures. The website Hedweb provides a full list of vegetarian and vegan phrases in several languages.

A vegetarian lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the cultural experience of living, traveling, and eating in another country! Since May 2009, many Belgians have participated in a weekly veggie day and several countries have famous vegetable dishes that are just as tasty as anything with meat. So for all those vegetarians out there who have a case of the travel bug, it’s time to make like an Italian and mangia, mangia, mangia!

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