Being a vegetarian on the road can present some challenges and options for vegetarians can be a mixed bag from country to country. There are almost always options for vegetarians but there is a big difference between options and real choices that you would want.
Arabic countries are fantastic for vegetarians, whilst meat is often a staple diet for many, the region offers up amazing vegetarian ingredients such as various types of beans, nuts, seeds and cereals. Salad is regularly eaten, both cold with traditional salad ingredients and hot with lashings of vegetables, fruits and lentils. Added to all of these tasty ingredients is numerous combinations of spices and herbs. They love bread here too and most meals are served with either unleavened bread or beautifully wood burned flatbreads. From a snacking point of view I don’t think I’ve ever found a better option than warm pitta bread/flatbread with a bowl of hummus and some fresh olives, beautiful.
Arabic cuisine has roots in the Mediterranean, North Africa and Mesopotamia which give the food a rich mix of ingredients and meal choices that aren’t locally seen anywhere else in the world. Whether in Jordan, Egypt, Iraq or Yemen there is a basic style of food running throughout albeit with the twist of that particular nation.
Not only is there plenty of options for a vegetarian ( and I mean real options ) but everywhere that I visited accommodates for the meat free customer. I have visited places in the world that can ‘knock something up’ for me, but in the Arabic nations I would say that 9.5 restaurants out of 10 had plenty of options for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.
Interestingly, in many, many arabic countries, meat was always a more expensive product to buy, which meant that it was only the upper classes that could afford to buy it, that meant that the poor had to substitute meat with whatever the land provided them with. If you ask me it was the poor that were the richest in food choices as the vast array of fruits, veg and grains that grow here are both plentiful and make for a meal fit for kings.
These days of course there an abundance of both meat and produce but in my opinion they seem to be almost on par with each other and meat dishes are almost equal amounts of meat, flavours and veg/salad. Unlike in many nations where they consider veg,salad,grains etc. just to be an additional extra next to the meaty main event.
If you are vegetarian and you happen to be on the road then I would most definitely encourage you to head to some of the amazing countries in Arabia, for the people, the destinations and of course, the meat free food.