Best Destinations for World-Traveling Vegetarians

A family of avid travelers and picky eaters seems like an unlikely pair, but, rest assured, the world is a big place boasting plenty of options. Carting around your vegetarians, vegans and pescatarians can be easily done, you just have to know where to look and how to communicate your needs.

Japan

Surrounded by water, Japan is a pescatarian wonderland. Vegetarians, look out for plant-based staples like miso soup, soba and udon noodles, vegetable tempura and local staples like okonomiyaki, savory pancake made of cabbage and vegetables; onigiri, a rice ball sometimes wrapped in nori, or seaweed; gari, similar to tofu; sekihan, beans and rice; or umeboshi, fruit similar to salt plums.

Thailand

Thailand’s fresh fruits, vegetables and farmers market scene is incredibly vegetarian and vegan friendly. From Phuket to Chiang Mai, families find vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian options in nearly every restaurant. Snack on fried noodles with vegetables in phad tai phak and phad see euw, or opt for fried rice and vegetables in khao phat pak. Enjoy fresh spring rolls, or pa pia sot, and load up on seemingly endless quantities of fresh fruit.

Israel

The promised land for hummus and pita bread, Israel is an easy destination for animal-free foodies. Enjoy lentil soup, falafel, hummus, challah bread, stuffed grape leaves and a great blend of Middle Eastern cuisines. Play it safe and stick to the restaurants of Tel Aviv, or venture beyond the city well equipped with the words, “anee tzimchonee,” meaning I’m vegetarian (male) and “anee tzimchoneet,” for female. Arm yourself with this list of vegan and vegetarian restaurants before your trip.

Jamaica

You may be thinking, “Jamaica is all jerk chicken and Caribbean barbecue,” but it’s actually not! Caribbean fare is great for pescatarians, serving fresh fish, rice and vegetables, while Rastafarian culture leans more on plant-based cuisine. Take advantage of the fresh produce, including incredible fruits and vegetables you may not see in such abundance anywhere else — try the papaya.

A few key tips no matter where you go, try to travel equipped with the language. Even if it’s just a few key words like “I don’t eat meat or fish” or “I can’t have dairy,” learning a simple line in a foreign language, and being specific about your needs, is easier and more effective than saying “I’m a vegetarian” or something that may not translate as well. While researching the language beforehand, be in the know with local vegan and vegetarian dining options.