I have been vegetarian for many years, since I was a teenager, and I absolutely love holidays. Holidays are what I save up for (no expensive handbags for me). So I have travelled around a fair bit, and while in Switzerland I have been really impressed with the amount of vegetarian food available. Not only that, but it is often clearly marked on the menus as well. Now it’s not a totally fair comparison, because some holidays I have had almost ten years ago, and even in England things have moved on in ten years.
When I think back to past holidays (in Europe or America) I did used to find it much harder, especially in France. Once in Paris I went in a bakery and got a cheese filled roll, only to find it had ham in it once I had taken a bite! Ten years ago I went to Boston with my parents, and had a few problems, including being given vegetable soup (so, vegetarian then) which had massive chunks of beef floating in it. These experiences early on led me to be very “safe” on holiday, opting for plain bread, margherita pizza, or pasta with tomato sauce. All nice options, but not particularly great to be eating constantly on a 2 week holiday. Luckily things have moved on, and for the last 5 years maybe it has been much easier.
Veggie in Europe:
When in Spain we were recommended a restaurant called Fresco (I think) which was the same as Sweet Tomatoes in the USA- a big salad buffet, and then help yourself to the hot items such as jacket potatoes, pizzas and pastas. It is a chain as we have been to it in Barcelona and Madrid, and a very good option for a veggie on holiday.
A while ago we went to Lisbon in Portugal, and that proved harder, because of the language more than anything. We stuck to the usual faves (Italian restaurants) as there were plenty of those to choose from.
In Switzerland most of the menus we looked at have had veggie options marked clearly. I had a nice veggie burger the other night- it tasted a bit like falafel and I think it was made with chickpeas. I have seen veggie fajitas, including one which was cooked with kidney beans (some veggie protein- I will get to that point later) as opposed to just vegetables. There are lots of cheese fondues, plus raclette’s (baked/ boiled potatoes with melted cheese and gherkins/ pickles) and rosti’s (lots topped with cheese or cheese and mushroom/tomato). I had some nice spaghetti with tomato sauce and fresh basil, and the same place also did ravioli stuffed with mushrooms in a pesto sauce. In another place (I mentioned previously) I saw both seitan and tofu mentioned on menus, and I think people generally understand the “no meat” concept, whereas before it was not understood. A little like the royal family clip of the grandma saying “she’s a vegetarian, maybe just wafer thin ham then?” or something to that effect!
Before Christmas we went to Denmark (Copenhagen) for a few days, and that proved difficult. Their diet is lots of fish (I don’t eat fish) and meat, and there were not too many un-Danish places. In the guidebook there was a veggie restaurant mentioned, but we couldn’t find it. So it was Hard Rock one night, and then a picnic of bread and cheese from the local shops on the other day.
I have not been to France for ages, in fact the last time was a trip to Disneyland Paris, which was not great! One of the children’s items was veggie (it might have been tomato pasta or something) and they would not sell it to me because I didn’t have a child with me! There were a few options around but I cant remember what now. A few French holidays have been self-catering, which is always easy because you can buy so much fresh produce from the supermarkets- I love walking into the fruit/veg section- normally they smell of nectarines-mmm.
Italy seems like a fab place for veggies (especially as I love pasta)- one of the places we went to has a local speciality of ravioli stuffed with pumpkin, which sounds amazing. I kept an eye out for it but didn’t see it anywhere-boo. I did have some lovely pesto (only made with basil, garlic and pine nuts- the parmesan was optional to be added at the table so I didn’t have any). There is lots of pasta, gnocchi and pizzas with veggie options too, plus the panini’s and salads etc. I had a lot of pasta with tomato sauce and basil, some nice pizzas including one with artichoke. As it is all made fresh they seem happy to amend things too. A while ago we went to Rome and we had no trouble choosing a place to eat. In Milan the rough guide recommended an ice cream shop with organic ingredients called “Grom”, and while in the queue I noticed that it had a list by the door of all the flavours, whether they were vegan (lots of the places did fruit “ice cream” which had no dairy at all- the mango flavour was delicious- like pureed frozen mango), whether they had eggs, nuts etc in them too. Pretty good. Also all the little spoon things were biodegradable. Plus the hazelnut ice cream was amazing.
A long time ago (maybe ten years!) I went to Turkey with my family, and it was the only time we did a half board holiday. The breakfast was fine, and the dinners were lots of salads, veggie rice dishes and loads of watermelon. All I remember having for lunches were grilled cheese sandwiches (but back then I had not tried hummus or falafel or anything like that)- I would imagine there would be a lot of choice.