The Best Street Foods for Vegetarians

Written by  Isabel Eva Bohrer February 28, 2011

Are you a hungry vegetarian on the road? No need to despair.

Street vendors have long learned the need to cater beyond the carnivore, and there are plenty of options out there for us veggie-lovers.

Here’s the crème de la crème of vegetarian street food, AND where to get it:

Fresh fruit. If you’re all about “clean eating,” then you’ll find paradise in sunny climates. From Brazil to Vietnam, pick just about any country near the Equator, and you’re set. If that’s too many to choose from, start with the world-class assortment in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Chole bhatura. Forget about cholesterol and enjoy a spicy mix of white chickpeas (chole) served with a side of fried bread (bhatura). Though the maida flour used for the bhatura is standard, every vendor’s chole will have a slightly different mix of cumin seeds, tumeric, coriander, garlic, onion, and dried mango powder. Try them together with a mango lassi in Delhi, India.

Chocolate con churros. Being vegetarian doesn’t mean we only eat vegetables. For all the sweet-lovers, this Spanish specialty is a must-try. The pastries made of fried dough are dipped in hot chocolate. Have them for breakfast in Madrid, Spain.

Falafel. Careful, these balls made of chickpeas and fava beans can be addicting. Eat them alone or in a pita, a flatbread whose pocket can be filled with salads, pickled vegetables and a tahini sauce. Originally, they come from Cairo, Egypt (but if that’s too dangerous of a destination right now, hit up the Marais in Paris, France).

Spring roll. We won’t try saying this one in Thai. Known in Thailand as px peiya, the spring roll is, despite its name, available year-round. A deep-fried roll filled with vegetables, it’s a vegetarian staple all over by now. Find your own favourite in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Empanada caprese. The Italian classic caprese – mozzarella cheese and tomato – but this time in Chilean dough. There are many variations on the empanada; to vary it up, look for espinaca (spinach) or even carne vegetal (soy meat). Some establishments even use whole wheat dough in Santiago, Chile.

Vegetarian sambusa. So you’ve savored something from South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia? “This time for Africa,” as Shakira would say. Similar to the Indian samosa, the African sambusa is a folded triangular pastry filled with a zesty mixture of vegetables. Grab a bite in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Gelato. We have to end our virtual meal with a dessert. Frozen yoghurt is far from the real deal. Whether strawberry, chocolate or something adventurous like basil (yes, it exists), have your pick. Great copies are found in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but the authentic is in Rome, Italy.

Now that we’ve made your mouth water, it’s time to start travelling! Just a final word of caution: as with any street food, beware of food poisoning. You wouldn’t want a day of diarrhea to follow your delicious snack!

Isabel Bohrer is a freelance writer and photographer currently based in Madrid, Spain. She has lived, studied, worked and volunteered in Germany, USA, Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Greece, Tanzania, Morocco, Tunisia, India, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico. www.isabelevabohrer.com

This article is the winning submission from The Verge Storyboard for the week of Feb. 28, 2011. Click here to check out the board and submit your own story!

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