Vegan travel in India? Peace of cake! Or is it not?
Well, basically yes. There are a couple of traps (ghee, yogurt etc, but I’ll come to that later), but in general, this county is foody paradise as it is home to the highest vegetarian population and hence has the lowest meat consumption rate in the world (that said, the majority of the population still eats meat).
It’s so much, so cheap, available at every corner, so intense, so colorful, so different, so sweet, so hot, so delicious….not only the country itself is so multifaceted (they say love it or hate it, well, I’m a lover…), the food alone makes you wanna return each time. I returned three times so far and will be back for sure.
As India is on another category (food-wise) as Argentina for example, I’m not going to point out certain restaurants. There are heaps. Tons. Countless. Instead, I’d just point out some things you might want to consider if you haven’t been in this tremendous county yet.
Here’s my 10-points-list:
1. Eat streetfood. It’s everywhere, it’s fresh, tasty and dirt cheap. And you can see what they use (and how!)
2. Eat Thalis. They come on a perforated metal tray and offer a variety of different little „stews“ in metal cups, if you lucky even with a refill.
3. Dairy products play a minor role. Cream or milk are hardly used. That said, in aforementioned Thalis, you often get one cup with yogurt. Just leave that one out.
4. Sometimes, they fry their stuff in ghee, which is some sort of butter/animal fat. Again: ask, if you are strict or set your own rules how to deal with that. I ended up ignoring it.
5. Food is always different, depending on where you are. India is huge, so try food from as many regains as possible because it’s completely different in Rajasthan than in Kerala. Veggi heaven is in Rajasthan, where a lot of Jains live, so roughly 70% of the population don’t eat meat due to their religious belief.
6. You’ll find a lot of places that say „vegetarian“ or even „pure vegetarian“. You’ll love it there, but be aware that they don’t really follow the concept of veganism. Their reason to choose this form of diet is religiously motivated, hence it follows different „rules“ than your ideology of being vegan, may that be ethical, health, environment or whatever. Long story short: Even in pure veg restaurants they might have yogurt or lassi. If you are strictly vegan, leave that.
7. Eat with your hands! Most people do. You get used to it, it’s fun!
8. Careful with the water (ever heard of Dheli-Belly?). Never use tap water, not even to rinse your toothbrush. Check the seal before you drink. Broken? Don’t drink it.
9. As in every country learn some words and you’ll limit the chances of surprises after ordering your food, especially at little street vendors who definitely won’t have an English version of the menu.
10. Get accustomed to the head-wobble (you’ll understand once you’re there). It is not the same as a head shake, meaning no!
Enjoy incredible India!