Travelling as an older vegetarian; Tribulations and Treats!

Tom at Kitty's I have been both a long time vegetarian and a long time traveller, ranging from places in the UK to exotic destinations such as India, Thailand and the area previously known as Soviet Asia so as you can imagine my experiences, both positive and negative, are varied.  One thing I have found however is that as I have grown older my patience with poor catering has worn very thin so I am no longer willing to put up with poor meals and I always in advance make it clear that I expect a decent vegetarian breakfast and not just the meat breakfast without the meat.  I have found this is one area of particular weakness as many hotels and guesthouses feel it is sufficient just to serve egg with beans, tomatoes and mushrooms.  As vegetarians (including vegans) pay the same as anyone else why should we have so much less choice?  One of the nicest surprises I had was when the Sun Inn in Clun, Shropshire, where we stayed for a couple of days went to the trouble of getting in some quorn vegetarian bacon, it really made my weekend.  Similarly hotels that serve a very good fresh (and I mean fresh, not out of a tin) fruit salad go up in my estimation.  Earlier this year we stayed in Malta in the Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay and although the evening meals were pretty useless they served an excellent breakfast – they did not have any veggie sausages etc but they had an amazing breakfast buffet choice including pancakes, wonderful fruit salad, cakes and homemade bread etc., so it was a great start to the day.

Of course the safest option would be to always stay in a vegetarian or vegan guesthouse or hotel and this can be really special, for example in the wonderful Yewfield Country Guest House or Lancrigg both in the Lake District and the tiny but tasty No 15 Vegetarian B&B in Norwich all of whom we have enjoyed in the past but obviously there is not always a veggie place to stay where you wish to visit so that can be a bit limiting.

Cottage in Thropton Similarly if you are going for more than a couple of nights there is always the self catering option and we had a delightful week in May in a cottage in Northumberland which had some excellent evening catering nearby in the Three Wheatheads in Thropton.  We took this option however as we wanted to take our cat with us on holiday – generally self catering can work out more expensive than a B&B and who wants to spend their holiday cooking?  Nowadays with vegetarian food much more available than in 1972 when I first turned veggie it is usually fine to eat out evenings and lunch though again, if you are not fortunate enough to stay nearby to somewhere like Ambleside, Brighton, Edinburgh, Glasgow or Manchester all of whom have a good range of purely vegetarian eating places you might find the choice a bit limited.  I find this is a particular problem for me as I don’t like spicy food and I find many non vegetarian chefs think that in order to provide a tasty vegetarian dish all they have to do is throw spices or garlic at it and it will be fine.  I also find a lot of veggie dishes seem to consist of gloopy sauces – we are not reverted to babyhood!  Vegetarian pies also seem to be limited to cheese and onion so I was delighted to get one in the Lake District recently which had broccoli, stilton and beans in it for a change.

When it comes to travel abroad some countries are much more veggie friendly than others. Obviously India tops the list as a large percentage of the population there is vegetarian so the majority of food is also. I was pleasantly surprised when I visited there in 2013 that I could also get plenty of non spicy vegetarian food.  Turkey is also a good country to visit with plenty of bean based dishes and chefs there are only too willing to make things up for you.  Many countries that are sea bound are less veggie friendly so I am a bit apprehensive about my forthcoming trip to Norway but we will be on a cruise ship so somehow I doubt we will starve. 

Hazlemere Cafe and Bakery, Grange-Over-Sands, Cumbria Most capital cities around the world are now also very veggie friendly and we have eaten very well in places such as Barcelona, Berlin, Dublin, Paris, Prague and Rome.  Of course our own capital, London, probably has the highest percentage of vegetarian restaurants in the world and I have found vegetarians visiting the UK generally from elsewhere are very impressed by the dishes available.

The moral of the tale seems to be vegetarians need to research more, prepare more and complain more if we are to have an enjoyable visit whether it is for business or pleasure.  So all you veggies out there – stand up and be counted and don’t let poor catering be rewarded.

137 people found this helpful

Share Article:

Tina Fox

Retired charity director

Leave a comment


Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Explore China with our guide tailored for travellers over 50. Discover ancient wonders, vibrant cities, culinary adventures, and landscapes…
Rich in exotic wildlife, tropical forests, white-sand beaches and lost civilisations, Belize really is a diverse pocket of overlooked beauty….

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.