With so many exciting memories to be made and adventures to be had, it can be easy to forget that one of the best parts of studying abroad is encountering a totally new culinary landscape. While being immersed in a world of flavors you’ve never tried and may not ever even have heard of can be exciting, it can also be tricky to maneuver — especially if you’re a vegetarian. Here are some tips to make your time studying abroad as a vegetarian just a little bit easier.
Learn how to explain your dietary restrictions in whatever languages you plan on encountering.
This is an obvious but crucial tip — know how to tell people that you’re a vegetarian in every language that you plan on encountering while abroad. While it may be easier than ever for monolingual English-speakers to travel abroad, it’s always better to learn how to tell people about your dietary restrictions in other languages than it is to not know how and risk eating something that will make you sick later. It may also be useful to know words for different meats so you know exactly what to avoid.
Bring some of your favorite snacks along with you.
No one wants to study abroad and eat the same food they eat every day at home anyway, but it can be nice to bring some snacks along just in case. These can help you out when you have trouble finding vegetarian-friendly restaurants, when you’re on the go, when you’re too tired to cook for yourself and when you’re just plain homesick. Protein bars, mixed nuts and roasted chickpeas are all good options if you visit a country where it is hard to find protein outside of meat.
Use Yelp, Zomato and restaurants’ websites to research menus before going out.
Every indecisive eater knows that Yelp and Zomato are total godsends when it comes to picking where to go out to dinner. They’re also godsends when it comes to looking for vegetarian restaurants in your area. You can use both apps to filter searches by specifying that you’re looking for vegetarian-friendly restaurants or check out restaurant menus. Yelp and Zomato are still only available in a handful of countries, so it can also be useful to visit a restaurant’s website and check out any information they have on whether or not they can accommodate your dietary restrictions.
Make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need
Transitioning to living in an entirely different country for a semester can be both mentally and physically exhausting. As you learn to navigate your new surroundings and adjust to a new time zone and climate, make sure you have enough energy to keep you going by getting all of the nutrients you need every day. You can do this by keeping close track of what you eat using an app or by bringing protein and vitamin supplements with you.
Cook for yourself using ingredients that are hard to find at home.
Going out to eat is definitely the most exciting way to get to experience all the invigorating new flavors available to you. When it comes down to it, however, eating out for every meal is not the most practical option if you are studying in a country with a cuisine that is heavily meat-based. If you have the resources available, try cooking for yourself at home. You’ll save money, know that what you’re making fits your dietary needs and get the opportunity to experiment with produce, spices and other ingredients that you won’t be able to find as easily back home.