I have often found travelling as a vegan, the food can be a rather uninspiring, unless its to somewhere where the REALLY GET vegans. I usually search high and low for vegan, or at least vegetarian eating places, to see what the locals can offer.
I have been to Bulgaria a number of times and done exactly that, finding only a couple of choices in the largest cities.
The local restaurants do offer enjoyable salads, just leave off the ‘white cheese’ which is often sprinkled on it otherwise. I usually give the fried potatoes or veggies a wide berth – as I worry they will be cooked in the same oil as the meat or fish. However its also pretty easy to find flat breads and veggie pizzas (minus the cheese and wait for the confused look from the waiter which says “who has pizza without cheese 🙂 “).
The biggest challenge for me in Bulgaria is the language. The restaurant staff are very friendly but often their English isn’t THAT much better than my Bulgarian – and I can’t say a word – so trying to explain VEGAN is very very difficult and I am not often confident they understand me. It is better in the bigger tourist areas, but head out into the countryside and its almost impossible. Couple the language barrier with the written language here which uses the cyrillic alphabet – and quite frankly I cannot even guess what anything is unless there is a picture, and that is not reliable enough for me to risk eating!
For example: Can I have a vegan dinner please? is something like: Може ли да има веганска вечеря, моля
I have noticed as the years have gone on, more and more dishes pop up that are vegan friendly, using ingredients like quinoa and chickpeas – but they are not available everywhere.
However last year I noticed a change, I even found an ice cream bar in Nessebar serving vegan ice cream and a couple of cakes!!!!
Then this year we were self-catering and visited the Lidl supermarket, which had a display on the end of aisle with a whole range of products clearly marked vegan including crackers, dips and spreads, biscuits, quinoa, grains, pulses soya milk and all types of “bio” products! And it is only a relatively small supermarket. I also visited a larger different chain and also found rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk, tofu and all sorts.
It was a like a vegan revolution in Bulgaria. I am sure these products were available in the few and far between health food shops in the past, but this time its gone mainstream!
I wonder what they will have by next year!!!