If eating trends are any indication, the world is no longer the preserve of non-vegetarian cuisine. More and more vegetarian and vegan travelers in countries like Canada, the US and elsewhere in Europe are discovering to their pleasant surprise that beyond the veggie burger and veggie pizza, vegetarian food is alive and kicking!
With the resurgence in vegetarianism across the world, thanks in large measure to outlets like Veggie Planet in Mississauga Ontario, local vegetarian dishes and cuisines are making a welcome comeback in countries spread across Europe, Asia and Africa. In fact, for a long time it was believed that except for a few countries like India, the world was, by and large, a haven for non-vegetarian foodies. But now countries ranging from Thailand to Italy boast of dishes that are true-blue vegetarian and national favorites too. Let’s go on a global epicurean walk across eight countries on four continents, to some of the tourist havens where simple vegetarian street foods are basking in international glory.
Asian vegetarian delights to live for:
Considered the original home of vegetarianism, India is a virtual repository of tasty vegetarian cuisine that can give non-vegetarian food a run for its money. The sheer variety of vegetarian dishes and recipes emanating from this country have enchanted food lovers from across the spectrum. Ironically, one of the most popular and yet most humble dishes is the chana masala. Made of chickpea or great garbanzo bean, chana masala is a great accompaniment to roti, paratha, and naanza. It is a humble man’s lentil curry that is going places, thanks to a mouth-watering combination of tomatoes, onion, a variety of spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander. Dripping with proteins and full of taste, chana masala is the toast of high-end restaurants as well as humble roadside eateries that dot the vast Indian countryside. Speaking of Indian drinks and adaptations, you have ideas like kawa nuggets and kawa drumstick on mainstream vegetarian restaurant menus nowadays.
Apart from elephants, beaches and great forests, Thailand has become famous in recent years for its mouth-watering array of vegetarian dishes. Long a magnet for international tourists, Thai cuisine is turning out to be that extra element for visiting tourists. Thai cuisine is known for its generous use of coconut milk which lends a unique flavor to the dishes. Popular vegetarian options range from stewed plantains, taro root, and sweet potatoes. Thai dishes are replete with lemongrass, local spices, palm sugar and a variety of vegetables that are colorful to behold and tasty to eat. Slurp!
Lebanon, once the jewel of the Middle-East. Also, home to the mouth-watering dish called tabbouleh. A veritable delight for vegetarian food lovers, tabbouleh comprises of bulgur, parsley, onion, mint, cucumber and tomatoes, all dressed with a concoction of lemon juice and olive oil. A veritable middle eastern delight for the taste buds, tabbouleh makes a good combination with hummus along with olives and falafels. Light on the stomach, tabbouleh is consumed cold and can make the humid evenings bearable. If you’re visiting Lebanon and wondering how to stick to vegetarian food, remember there’s tabbouleh to the rescue.
The Americas for vegetarians:
Long famous for its ancient Aztec and Mayan empires, Mexico has always attracted foreign tourists by the droves. When you talk about Mexican food, the first things that pop to mind are beans, avocado, corn tortillas – you can’t get more vegetarian than this! A common man’s staple diet for a long time, you’ll find the aroma of corn tortillas wafting into your nostrils as they get cooked on skillets. Available in a variety of vegetarian and vegan fillings, tortillas are healthy, filling and easy on the pocket too. You can find them in high-end restaurants as well as street-side eateries. So, vegetarians can happily visit Mexico.
A major South American destination for business and tourist visitors, Chile has a great vegetarian option in the form of porous Granados – a delectable porridge-like stew imbibing the wholesome goodness of cranberry beans, onion, corn, pumpkin, broth, and spices. It is characterized by its rich sweet taste and pungent aroma that wafts from the puree-like concoction.
Eternal Europe for vegetarian food lovers:
Italy is not just famous for its ageless art and culture. To be fair, Italian cuisine has made a name for itself in the pantheon of world foods. But it is only now that vegetarian dishes are peeping out from behind the scenes to global acclaim. Foremost among Italy’s contribution to vegetarian cuisine is the white bean peasant soup better known as ribollita. As the staple of the peasantry who could not afford meat, it was a necessity that shaped ribollita into a vegetarian superstar that is the toast of modern food lovers. Thanks to the white beans, it is full of proteins and carbohydrates. The next time you visit Italy, don’t forget to stop by a roadside restaurant to sample some ribollita!
If you’re visiting Greece, you can take heart from the fact that the Mediterranean country is a vegetarian food lover’s haven. From olives to grapes and rice, the cuisine here is loaded with vegetarian ingredients. Foremost among them is dolma. You can try the staple dish of rice cooked in olive oil and spices – it’s available wherever you travel in the country. Simple and wholesome, dolmas are delicious and renowned as the people’s food. You’ll find it almost anywhere in Greece because everybody loves it!
Going vegetarian in Africa:
If you ever visit Lesotho in the African continent, don’t forget to try out Moroko – an astonishingly simple vegetarian recipe of roughly chopped greens that are boiled before simmering in oil and finally mashed to form a lovely green colored soggy porridge. Comprises of vegetables and greens ranging from kale, chard, radish, mustard, dandelions, spinach and so on. Take a spoonful of the vegetarian porridge and get ready to be transported into the realms of epicurean delight. Tastes especially good when eaten along with potatoes or rice. Widely available and relished all over the landlocked nation that nestles within South Africa.
While traveling the world in search of a fulfilling vegetarian dish may not be everyone’s idea of fun, if you stay in Brampton, Mississauga, Etobicoke or Vaughan area, you can always walk into your local Veggie Planet and savor some lip-smacking vegetarian Planet special poutine!
Veggie Planet offers convenient online ordering via the website (https://veggieplanet.ca) and flexible delivery options, including delivery within a 15-kilometer radius available in Mississauga and Greater Toronto Area.
For in-restaurant pickups, Veggie Planet is located at 6985 Davand Dr. Unit #1, Mississauga, ON L5T 1Y7 and can be reached at (905) 795-7950 for all vegetarian and vegan restaurant menu items.