Traveling with diet restrictions can be difficult — especially if you don’t speak your destination’s native language fluently. For vegetarians and vegans, the situation is even more complicated because not every culture defines a meatless diet the same way.
Whereas absolutely zero animal products is the norm in certain countries, cooking staples like fish sauce or butter are hard to avoid in others. In some cases, the English words vegetarian or vegan are used. In others, there’s no direct translation — particularly in places on either end of the extreme, such as where a vegetarian diet is common or where people have little to no vegetarian culture.
However, there are a few phrases that will help ensure your dietary needs are met when you’re abroad –even if you don’t speak the language. This is how to say that you’re vegetarian or vegan in 20 languages. With this information in your back pocket, you’ll be able to ask for meat-free dishes in many of the world’s most popular travel destinations.
Note on format: The following list contains phrases which translate to, “I am vegetarian” followed by “I am vegan,” (separated by a comma) or a different translation if the most common phrase is one closer to “I don’t eat meat.” Languages that have masculine and feminine forms of words contain a forward slash showing the masculine versus feminine form.
Arabic: ‘ana nabatee/ya, ‘ana nabati
Croatian: Ne jedem meso (which means “I don’t eat meat”), Ja sam vegan/ka
Dutch: Ik ben vegetariër (also Ik eet geen vlees, which means “I don’t eat any meat”), Ik ben veganist
French: Je suis un végétarien/ne, Je suis un végétalien/ne
German: Ich bin Vegetarier, Ich bin Veganer
Greek: Eimai hortofagos, Eímai vegan
Hindi: Main maas-machhli nahin khata/khati hoon, Main shaakaahaaree hoon
Hungarian: Vegetarianus vagyok / Vegan vagyok
Indonesian: Saya vegetarian, Saya vegan (“saya tidak makan” means “I don’t eat meat”)
Italian: Sono vegetariano/a, Sono vegano/a
Mandarin: Wǒ shì sùshí zhě (or wǒ bù chī ròu, which means “I don’t eat meat”), Wǒ shì chún sù shí zhě
Polish: Jestem wegetarianinem (wegetarianka for feminine), Jestem weganin (weganka for feminine)
Portuguese: Eu sou vegetariano/a, Eu sou vegana
Russian: Yah nye yem meeyasa (which means “I don’t eat meat”), Ya vegan/ka
Spanish: Soy vegetariano/a, Soy vegano/a
Swahili: Mimi sili nyama (which means “I don’t eat meat”), Mimi ni vegan
Tagalog: Vegetarian po ako, Ako ay vegan
Thai: Dì chǎn/pǒm gin jee, C̄hạn pĕn mạngs̄wirạti (“jay” refers to a more strict version of vegan that also forgoes garlic, heavy spices, and alcohol)
Turkish: Ben vejeteryanım (also good to know the word ‘etsiz,’ which means “meatless”), Ben veganım
Vietnamese: Không thịt (which means “no meat”), Tôi ăn chay (you can also add “chay” to orders to ask for them vegetarian)