Travelling With Others
Surprisingly, the social problems that can arise as a vegetarian on an adventure are often worse with your own tribe than with the new people that you’re meeting. This is for the same reason that there are no vegetarian travel guides; people hugely underestimate the challenge. Every veggie knows the horrible feeling of wandering around for ages looking for somewhere to eat, with people constantly saying ‘hey this place looks nice! Oh, there’s nothing (insert your name) can eat, we’ll have to keep looking.’ Cringe.
Here’s how to stay friends:
Rule No. 1:
Stress it in advance. It’s most likely not going to be much of an issue at all if you’re headed out to South East Asia or the Middle East, but if you’re going to South America or mainland Europe it almost certainly will cause trouble a couple of times, if not constantly. Your friend probably won’t really take on board what a nuisance it is until you’re both standing outside the fourth restaurant and they’re frustratedly suggesting that possibly you’re just being too particular and meat stock is not the same as meat. Nevertheless, do your best to impress upon them before you go that these sort of situations will probably occur, that way at least they were forewarned.
Rule No. 2:
Don’t be afraid to spend time apart. You’re in Jamaica and your friend’s been avidly reading their guide books and heard that they just have to try the local jerk pork, except all the best little places that serve it don’t do anything you can eat. Organise a time to meet up later and go get yourself a cocktail in a coconut and do some talent-spotting while your friend gets their nosh. You might have to be a bit forceful sometimes and not take no for an answer if your friend is being especially noble. Being vegetarian was your decision and it’s not fair on your friend if they miss out on the things they want to do as a result.
Time apart is also your best defence against the scenario in rule one where your buddy is hating on you for being a fuss-arse and you’re hating on them for being ignorant.
Rule No. 3:
Research places in advance. You don’t have to do this all the time as it sucks the spontaneity out of it a bit, but go on Trip Advisor, go on the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum, google it or whatever else, and try to find a few places you know for sure that you can eat at. Then before you get to scenario 1 you can say ‘hey, I read about this place…’