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Vegetarian Travel Notes:

  by Melanie Wilson
      Special to VegDining.com

It's surprising, but lots of people there don't balk at the idea of vegetarianism even though it's a heavy meat and dairy culture. I guess they've met enough foreigners to know that there are other ways of eating. They don't understand it, but most people have heard of it.

However, options for eating out are rather slim in the capital, and if you leave the city, well, you might as well forget eating! My husband, who travels a lot, brings his own food with him. In Ulaanbaatar (UB), there are several excellent Indian restaurants and lots of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean places. In the latter three, you have to be VERY specific, though, and you may still end up with little bits of meat in your tofu.

You don't know how many former vegetarians I've met in Mongolia, people who say, "I was veg before I got here ..." Frankly, I don't think it would be hard at all to be vegetarian in the capital, so I don't know what people are talking about, but being vegan is more of a challenge -- but not impossible.

For vegetarians, there are tons of fresh dairy and eggs and even imported cheeses. There are canned beans of all kinds and imported peanut butter. Soymilk just became sparsely available from China. It comes and goes. The fruit and veggie selection in UB is great, especially now that they have an organic greenhouse just outside of town! Lots of stuff imported from China that can't be grown in Mongolia. Tofu is made locally, and there are Japanese and Korean communities, making seaweed, kimchee and other specialty items like that widely available. Pasta, juices, cereals, oatmeal, and a small selection of nuts can be easily found.

  Melanie Wilson just spent a half-year (Sept 2000 - April 2001) in Mongolia with her family. Now back home in California, Melanie is Editor of Vegetarian Baby and Child - www.vegetarianbaby.com
Photo courtesy of the Mongolian Tourism Board.

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