Many of us are fortunate in our later years in that we have both the time and, sometimes, the funds to enable us to fulfil our dreams of travel to exotic places and enjoy our leisure time to the full.
However as we get older our food tastes can change – for example older people can’t taste salt or sugar as much so may put more of this in food or prefer food with stronger tastes. Similarly meat can be much harder to chew and to digest for many older people and it can be difficult to find good vegetarian alternatives.
As a long term vegetarian myself (and my husband) I know that some countries’ cuisine is much more veggie friendly than others. For example we went on a trip last May to India (see my review India’s Golden Triangle) where I knew vegetarian food would be readily available but was worried as I personally don’t like anything remotely spicy. I need not have worried – around 80% of the food we were offered was fully vegetarian, mostly vegan in fact (no dairy) and a lot of the European style dishes were also veggie so I did not starve! I am sure everyone knows that India is predominantly vegetarian but what of other cultures and how do vegetarians do in other areas?
Italy is of course also a good country for vegetarians due to the large variety of pasta dishes available and the willingness for restaurants to vary the dish as it is all cooked fresh. Elsewhere in Europe we found Stockholm to be incredibly veggie friendly as was Berlin – I believe both due to the influence of health and green concerns on the respective countries. Amsterdam, being very alternative, is also very veggie friendly and all of Holland has a good variety of fresh vegetables and numerous wild mushrooms making for interesting dishes and Belgium’s local authorities have recently introduced a meat free day a week in municipal facilities due to concerns for the environment.
Similarly we have never found travel in Turkey to be difficult as the proprietors always aim to please and are willing to amend dishes which are quite often bean orientated anyway. I found Egypt to be similar with many dishes that used pulses and beans as a source of protein so were very suitable. Russia when I went there was much more challenging – there was no shortage of nuts, seeds, veg etc but they did not know what to do with them – we were served one meal with rice and tinned peas and pears. That was a good while ago however so hopefully things will have improved there.
France however is another story! Vegetarians can do well in the capital where there are vegetarian restaurants and also many Lebanese and other ethnic eating places which serve good and varied vegetarian dishes. Out in the country however it can be a different matter as the French tend view a meal without meat as something very strange. We found this also to be the case in Tunisia where we had great difficulty finding any thing to eat other than chips and I am sure other French influenced countries may well be the same though my personal experience of them is limited.
My experience of the States is limited to New York (very veggie friendly) and Boston (also okay) but I hope to rectify that next year when I am visiting California and a review will follow. I have not of course mentioned veggie catering in the UK which is probably the subject of a whole other article.
More about Tina
Tina is the Director of Vegetarian for Life, a registered charity which aims to ensure older vegetarians and vegans get decent meals in the care and home care sectors. Visit www.vegetarianforlife.org.uk for more information.