A vegetarian abroad – the ramblings of a travelling vegetarian

Have guide book, will travel.

Travelling has always been a way of life for me. This year alone I have travelled to South Africa, Portugal, Spain, Canada and the USA. I recently returned from a trip to Toronto, Montreal and New York and had some pretty good vegetarian travel experiences, which was also pretty surprising!

Vegetarian Toronto

In my mind, Canadians are not known for their love of vegetarianism! So a trip to Canada always needs a bit of research in my veggie opinion! I did try a few veggie places in Toronto; they are there is you look around.

Woodlot

Woodlot is not strictly a vegetarian restaurant, but it does have an entirely separate veggie menu. I think this is a great idea and only wish more meat-centric restaurants and cafes would do the same. It makes ordering so much easier plus it gives me more confidence that they have thought about meatfree dishes and are probably more likely to be strict in the kitchen keeping meat and veggie dishes separate.

Woodlot has great reviews online, especially on Tripadvisor. I went there as a group of three on a Friday night and we only got in because of a cancellation, so if you want to go, book.

Woodlot in Toronto

Woodlot in Toronto

I had a polenta dish for mains, which was about $26, and shared a starter, which was a kind of tempura vegetables. On the whole I did not think the restaurant was good value for money. The service was so-so too; we had to wave frantically to get anyone’s attention. The worst point was that it was boiling hot and had no aircon.

I think Woodlot is an interesting concept but there are more interesting fully vegetarian restaurants in Toronto.

Commensal

One of these is actually the chain Commensal. It is pretty straight forward, it is a veggie buffet. We went late night and it was very quiet though I imagine it is really busy in the day.

Food was all fresh, tasty and good value too, more of a good place to grab lunch but I was impressed and wish the chain was in the UK as I would definitely go.

Vegetarian Montreal

Again, Montreal might not be the first place you think of as being a veggie destination. However, we ate at some really nice places there.

Crudessence

One in particular I liked was a vegan restaurant called Crudessence. It is nicely decorated and the staff were really helpful and friendly. I think all of their food is raw which is a really interesting, if not scary, concept. However, the food was great. We had sprouted bread and pate for starters and then for mains I had a great big salad with lots of interesting vegetables, seeds and some tofu too.

Crudessence in Montreal

Crudessence in Montreal

Wine was about $7 a glass.  We also shared some vegan ice-cream for desserts. If you want to eat somewhere that serves very unique vegan food, go to Crudessence.

Vegetarian New York

I wasn’t sure what to expect from NYC. However, I think due to the ethnic diversity of the city I think I was pretty well catered for. Due to the busy schedule I had, I did not eat at many veggie places, and mostly grabbed food on the go. A fast food chain called Chipotle does a really good veggie burrito plus veggie taco’s etc.

Angelica Kitchen

Angelica Kitchen is a really nice welcoming veggie restaurant in New York. We did have to wait about thirty minutes to get a table as they do not accept reservations.

Angelica Kitchen in New York

Angelica Kitchen in New York

Worth the wait though. The menu was varied and I had miso soup and sushi and my partner had a tofu bake and salad. They do not serve alcohol but I think you can BYO. Had some really good fresh juice. Was not pricey either and is in a nice location in the East Village. Check it out if you are visiting New York

Take the plunge

I always encourage anyone to travel, but if you are veggie, it can seem daunting. However, if you do your research before you go, you’ll find those allusive havens of meatfree cooking if you look hard enough!

Happy veggie dining J

Vegetarians and travelling – a match made in hell?

I love to travel but always have in the back of my mind one question that often determines my choice of destination.

How easy will it be to find vegetarian food?

It is all too easy to be put off travelling abroad if you think every day is going to be a struggle to find some decent veggie food. However, I have found that is you invest some time before you go doing your research, the results can make your trip away well worth it!

Top veggie destinations

I have travelled around the world twice and visited many countries. Some countries that are vegetarian friendly have often surprised me. My top destinations for veggies are:

  1. Thailand
  2. Malaysia
  3. Portugal
  4. California

Portugal for vegetarians

Porto in Portugal

Porto in Portugal

I recently visited Porto in Portugal and was pleasantly surprised by the range and quality of food I had. I had been wary of going but in fact had some great culinary experiences. I visited Casa Da Horta which is a vegetarian food coop. Basic but welcoming I sampled some traditional Portuguese food at really low prices.

I also visited Essencia which was a wonderful example of how to cook innovative veggie food. I had a caramelised walnut and goats cheese salad to start, then a seitan curry for main and a delicious raspberry sorbet with fresh kiwi fruit for dessert. They also have a fantastic range of cocktails.

Raspberry sorbet with fresh kiwi

Raspberry sorbet with fresh kiwi

Very different restaurants but equally as good.

I would definitely recommend Portugal if you are veggie as from what I have seen, vegetarianism is a growing movement in Portugal and with their love of fresh vegetables and fruit, the Portuguese are very open to the idea.

Vegetarian travel tips

I would encourage any vegetarians to embrace the idea of travel, even if it is to a country that you might think you would struggle in. Paris for instance challenged my preconceptions that France is a veggie nightmare and I visited some great places to eat. The key message is – Do Your Research!

There are always cafes and restaurants out there that are veggie or veggie-friendly. You’ve just got to know where to look….

Google is always a good place to start. There is also a website called happycow.net which is very useful. Happy veggie surfing!