How to Be Vegetarian in a Non Vegetarian Country

So, you want to be/are a vegetarian - one who follows a lifetime diet composed out of grains, beans, dairy products, fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and other delicious food, but you have to live or travel in a community with few vegetarian options? This wikiHow "How to be Vegetarian in Non Vegetarian Country" gives general information on the subject.


  1. Image titled Be Vegetarian in a Non Vegetarian Country Step 1
    Let your local supermarkets know if they are not carrying the types of vegetarian products that you wish to purchase. Such supermarkets are always ready to accept any reasonable changes. Stress the qualities of the products which they like most - popular, quality, price, brand, tasty, delicious, cheap, a brand they already stock. Find similar places in the area and write the same message to them. Do same for one month or two. Simply keep on and be persistent. If you have vegetarian friends in the area, ask them to campaign the supermarkets as well. Many supermarkets have product request postcards available around the store or at the cash register. Start by filling out one of those as well.
  2. Image titled Be Vegetarian in a Non Vegetarian Country Step 2
    Choose how "strictly vegetarian" you want to be. A vegan diet can be more difficult to pursue than a lacto-ovo one.
  3. Image titled Be Vegetarian in a Non Vegetarian Country Step 3
    Research local farms in your area. See if the farmers will sell directly to you, or if they participate in a farmer's market. If you follow a lacto-ovo diet and animal cruelty is a concern, ask the farmer about their animal care practices. Look for free-range and vegetarian fed chicken eggs in your local dairy section if you choose to include eggs in your diet.
  4. Image titled Be Vegetarian in a Non Vegetarian Country Step 4
    Cook as often as you can at home. If you are staying in a rooming house and don't have consistent access to a stove, ask if you can keep a microwave or rice steamer in your quarters. When eating at restaurants, ask in detail the ingredients of the dish. Not all people assume vegetarian to mean the same thing. You may want to ask if the dish is flavored with animal derived broths or contains gelatin.
  5. Image titled Be Vegetarian in a Non Vegetarian Country Step 5
    One way to make people more accepting of your dietary choice is to cook foods you enjoy and share them. Many people are under the false assumption that eating vegetarian means surviving mainly on salads and bland unseasoned vegetables. You may be surprised at your friends' or family's positive reactions after eating a tasty, filling, yet healthy and 100% vegetarian meal.


  • If you do end up eating something that isn't vegetarian by accident, don't beat yourself up over it! Everyone makes mistakes!
  • India has the most amazing and diverse variety of vegetarian food cooked in ways that you may never imagine, pick up an Indian cook book and see the recipes. The most foolish and common fallacy of people who are non-vegetarians especially out of Asia, is that a vegan diet consists of just boiled and unappetizing vegetables and nuts whereas the truth is that spices and butters make most vegetarian dishes, made in countries having a long-standing tradition of vegetarian food, unforgettably tasteful!
  • If you are staying in a country or area where you are unfamiliar with the language, learn a few key words like "meat", "animal", or "fish", along with "remove", "no" and "none". Learn about the culture so you know what you can expect in regional cuisine.
  • Take Boca, Veggie burgers, or other such brand name meat substitute products when grilling out with friends. They likely won't mind if you ask kindly for them to add your food to the grill.
  • Don't try to defend your choices to non-vegetarians who question you. Just simply say, "I don't like to eat meat". You can save your politics and philosophy for people who really care to hear about it.
  • Do some research on the internet to find products you might like to eat. Fill out a product request form at your local grocery store, and if they bring in your product, be sure and support their effort by buying it regularly. The produce section often seems to have control over ordering many vegetarian and vegan products as does the frozen food department. Thank the department manager or employees if you get a chance.
  • Be brave and try some of the vegetarian recipes on the internet! There are great ways to use potatoes, tofu, beans, and hummus. You can also use textured vegetable protein (TVP) products to prepare some of your old favorite recipes just like you did when you ate meat. Tacos, chili, even Hamburger Helper can be made with TVP products.
  • If you find yourself in a mainly meat-focused restaurant, look to the appetizers and sides choices for a few items of which you can combine to make a meal.
  • If you are a foreigner in a non-vegetarian country, try to learn the language. Eating vegetarian becomes much easier when you can explain your specific food needs.


  • At many business meetings and conventions where a corporate meal is served, you can ask the server if there is a vegetarian option available. Many catered lunches plan a certain percentage of meals for folks like you! Don't be afraid to ask.
  • Educate yourself as much as possible, using web sites, magazines (e.g., Vegetarian Times), books (e.g., The Food Revolution by John Robbins), vegetarian organizations and events, and so on. As you educate yourself, share that information with others, including family, friends, colleagues, co-congregants, neighbors, and others.
  • Let people know politely and firmly what you do and do not eat if they are going to prepare a meal for you. In areas where vegetarianism is an unfamiliar concept, you may be presented with fish or food seasoned with meat broth, simply because the dish does not contain pieces of meat.
  • Some people just can't believe that anyone would avoid meat. In many cultures and regions, meat is a huge part of every meal. Don't let anyone make you feel badly about your choices. Just smile and tell them that you have chosen not to eat meat for a variety of reasons. You can cite health as one non-offensive answer for people who press to know why. Save your more personal reasons to share with those who really care.

Things You'll Need

  • Books on lacto-vegetarian dishes

Sources and Citations

Show more... (3)

Article Info

Categories: Vegetarian Health | Travel Tips