Tips for meat-free meals in Mongolia

Local life in Mongolia by Sonia Muir

Think of places where it’s easy for vegetarians to travel and Mongolia probably won’t be high on the list.

Growing vegetables is tough in the harsh climate and tending to the garden is not really part of the traditional nomadic lifestyle. People joke that in Mongolia you eat meat, more meat, with a side order of meat on top of that. But believe it or not, at least in Ulaanbaatar it’s possible to dine meat-free without too much trouble.

In the city there are at least three purely vegetarian restaurants:

Ananda Cafe supports the Lotus Children’s Centre and local teens gain work experience by serving up tasty vegetarian dishes on a menu that changes every day. It’s a great place to go because in addition to enjoying a good meal, you’re also supporting a good cause.

Nearby is the Stupa Café. It specialises in snacks, smoothies and vegetarian dumplings and is part of a Buddhist meditation centre.

Then there’s Luna Blanca, just off Sukhebaator square. Here you’ll find a full array of traditional Mongolian dishes in meat-free variations.

These days many mainstream restaurants in the city cater for an international clientele and have learned to adapt to their dietary needs. Modern Nomads Restaurant has a selection of good vegetarian dishes, and at Altai Mongolian Barbecue (surprising, we know) you can get all the vegetables you desire – as long as you don’t mind them cooking alongside meat on the communal grill.

In the countryside you will probably still face some dietary challenges, but at least in the city you’ll have lots of options for delicious, healthy vegetarian food.

Photo: a nomadic life in Mongolia by Sonia Muir.

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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I’m sure I was on the trip where this photo was taken! June 2006? Fantastic memories of the most amazing trip.

Hi Elspeth,
Wonderful to hear you had such a great time in Mongolia. If you were on a trip with the photographer then you could well have been there!
Best wishes,
Sue, Intrepid Express Editor

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