ENGLAND, January 23, 2013: HPI Note: This entertaining article is comprised of responses the BBC received to a question: "What do vegetarians eat in a country where refusing meat is regarded as a sign of madness?"
It might be tomato pasta. Again. Or salad. Plain rice. Or vegetable stew... with lumps of chicken to pick out. For the BBC's Dany Mitzman in Bologna, Italy - where vegetarianism is seen as an exotic illness - it's tagliatelle with mushrooms. Here is a selection of tales from our vegetarian readers trying to find meat-free options when far from home.
1. Breanna, Whistler, Canada: I was a vegan when I moved to West Africa in 2002. I rapidly started eating dairy, eggs and fish again just to be able to survive. I not only encountered bewilderment but inevitably would get asked "why no meat?" and end up in long discussions where my friends and colleagues tried to convert me. I tried every explanation: loving animals, hating plants, being a Buddhist, but all in vain. After a few months, I finally hit upon gold. I simply told people that my grandfather had forbidden it before he died. Nobody would dream of asking me - an unmarried young woman - to go against my grandfather's wishes. After that, everyone went out of their way to find meatless dishes for me to eat.
3. Grant Finepen, Subic, Philippines: Try being a vegetarian in Texas. My friend went to a BBQ and said he didn't eat meat so, after many sympathetic words of consolation, he was given a burger bun with a salad.
6. Demarest Campbell, San Francisco, US: In South Africa, requesting vegetables is like swearing at the wait-staff. One bewildered waiter told me haughtily, "But, vegetables is what food eats."
11. Kedaar Raman, Troy, New York: I have travelled far and wide. My family raised me as a traditional Hindu Brahmin vegetarian. I have found it hardest to find vegetarian food in Malaysia, China and Vermont when I lived with local farmers. I was always given the look of pity when I told locals I did not eat meat. I explained it was a personal choice and that I did not feel like I was missing out on anything since I have never eaten meat in my life. If a mother does not put a piece of meat in a baby's mouth and say it is food, the baby does not know it is food.
18. Jonathan Pagden, Chesham, Bucks: I once stayed in a hotel in Munich (in a land famous for offering six varieties of meat for breakfast), and asked for the vegetarian lunch option. The waiter brought a plate of bacon. When I pointed this out, he said, with a completely straight face, "It came from a vegetarian pig." I still don't know whether he was joking.
Much more at source.