Mongolia is not a country renowned for being vegetarian-friendly. Because of the traditional nomadic lifestyle, as well as the harsh climate, growing vegetables hasn’t formed part of the local way of life.
People joke that in Mongolia you eat meat, more meat, with a side order of meat on top of that. So Intrepid’s Laura Carroll was pleasantly surprised to find that, at least in Ulaanbaatar, it’s possible to be vegetarian without too much trouble…
“In the city, there are actually 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 good place to go, knowing that in addition to enjoying a good meal you’re also supporting a good cause.
Nearby is the Stupa Cafe, part of a Buddhist meditation centre, that specialises in snacks, smoothies and vegetarian dumplings. Finally, there’s Luna Blanca, just off Sukhebaator square, that does a full array of traditional Mongolian dishes in meat-free variations.
Beyond those, 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 few good vegetarian dishes, and at Altai Mongolian Barbecue you can get all the veggies you desire – as long as you don’t mind that on the communal grill they’ll be cooking next to meat as well.
So there it is, the rundown of the best places for vegetarian food in Mongolia. In the countryside you might still face challenges, but at least in the city you’ll have lots of options for delicious, healthy vegetarian food.”
* photo by Jenny Wogan – Intrepid Photography Competition