Travel Tips
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My struggle with finding veg options as a vegetarian traveller in India

Being a vegetarian my food choices are naturally restricted. Despite India being a very friendly country for Vegans and Vegetarians, situations, where I am left with limited options are not rare.

Disclaimer: Food is just a choice. No preference is advocated here.

I won’t judge you and you don’t judge me on food 😛

Many a time on my travel to tier 3 towns and villages with rare outsider visits have made me to think and hunt for food options I prefer. Over the time I have developed my own hacks to tackle it.

In this post, I will be talking about how I go about finding options during my stay to places where pure veg or shared veg are nowhere to find. This post is intended for explorers who pursue serious travel and do not limit themselves to regular tourist places but makes their way to deep locations.

I have deliberately excluded the cities as they have options from most basic to western fast food eatery like McD, Pizzas nowadays.

Reason for narrowing the audience is that tourists have a lot of data on the web but folks rambling in less explored places don’t have much information.

Vegetarians who prefer only veg restaurants

Even in very small towns non-vegetarians easily find omelet shop or chicken serving restaurant. Vegetarians who don’t mind eating in non-veg restaurant still have options.

But those who seek pure veg options struggle to find one. I being a vegetarian who prefers veg restaurant find myself strangled with limited or no choices. If you being one of them, I would suggest trying below things in order

Ask for Vaishnav bhojanalay. Even Marwari or Gujarati bhojanalay would do

Now whom to ask? Ask any hotel or restaurant guy he should be able to guide you. If the town or village has a Jain temple there is a good possibility of having Jain bhojanalay nearby. As in the case of Ujjain, there is a Jain bhojanalay near the Jain temple.

Food basically the Thali are economical, light on the stomach and generally tasty and healthy. Bhojanalay’s are my first choice and I hunt desperately for them.

Few hints. Matheran has a good bhojanalay in the market. There’s a nice Vaishnav Bhojanalay in  Bhimnagar, Nirmali, Saharsa (all three locations are in Bihar). Lots of such in Jaisalmer, Ramgarh en route Tanot, Srinagar in Uttarakhand, Orchha near Jhansi.

Vaishnav Bhojanalay in Bhimnagar near Indo-Nepal border

Look out for a Temple prasadam or Gurudwara langar

Though not easy to locate but these are good options too for folks looking out for only veg. Again whom to ask? Try Google local guides, Google maps or ask any local. Don’t settle with a couple of people. Be bold in asking out.

Typical langar scene in Gurudwara

Feed on Fruit and Processed food

Many times, I have stocked fruits like Banana, Apples, Oranges or simply I ask the fruit wala to weigh half kg one piece of different fruit each.

This way my tongue buds are not bored and get to eat quality diet keeping me well for the tour. While I am writing this, I am in a cheap lodge in Vengurla, a lesser known place away from the dash of tourists. I have bought ½ dozen banana and dried apricots for my dinner 🙂

Processed foods available at Kirana stores are okay when used in combination of fruits but I  avoid 3 times a day of biscuits, chips, bread, etc as it doesn’t help me bring out the best of my mood which is very much required for traveling.

What to eat from veg and non-veg restaurant

It’s not like I stay hungry if I don’t find veg only option. When I am down with above options, I try to order below items from a shared kitchen

  • Curd rice is the best choice
  • Stuffed chapati or paratha
  • Khichdi or Upma
  • Add up your own options

Dahi chawal, my favorite 🙂

Ask the oldies

I have experienced this many times that old men particularly shopkeepers have always pointed out a good option to eat. I follow this to the date and I have never been disappointed.

I am not able to correlate that despite being youngsters more fond of eating out than Dadajis, the old men’s strike rate is more and that is my personal opinion 🙂

Old styled and crowded hotels are typically good

If the town has an old restaurant and if it remains empty even during 6pm-8pm, better not to enter.

Popular old styled (more of having wooden furniture and less of glass) hotels are generally packed and serve quickly.

If the town has a city type restaurant (glass entrance, marble flooring, good looking tables and interior) it’s worth trying out.

Approach the sarpanch of the village

If you happen to be in a village that neither has any eatery option nor it is possible for you to go to the nearest market, in such cases the best option is to look for sarpanch’s house and explain your situation to him. He is the most likely person to help you out.

If you are reading this, I am sure you must be having your own experiences with hunting for food. Do share your tips in the comment box below.

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Hello, I am Niraj. I define myself as an amateur photographer, biker and seeker. I like to connect with like-minded friends and share even the tiniest experience raw in nature, ever felt of the place, people or time. I believe life is an endless journey and our actions no matter how small affects this infinite universe in some or other way. So don't stop and keep up your work going.

2 Comments

  1. Sachin says

    Nice! I am a vegetarian too and face similar issues sometimes. My go-to dishes on road trips are daal rice, curd rice and daal khichdi. I’ve realised the best veg on the road is at homestays. In almost all homes outside the big cities of India, the meals are mostly vegetarian and delicious.

    • Wow, found a friend 🙂 I haven’t tried official homestays much, but looking at your comment, Sachin, it would be next thing I would opt for. Thanks for sharing your self-experienced tip.

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