Nepal, the beautiful land of the Himalayas, is home to a brilliant myriad of cultures, natural wonders, and Himalayan excellence. With huge ivory peaks shadowing the valleys and serrated rivers cutting across the emerald land, Nepal's natural opulence is certainly its most attractive feature. Moreover, blended perfectly together with cultural diversity, Nepal presents an amazing holiday experience to its visitors. Every year, thousands of visitors from all across the world visit Nepal to do trekking, hiking, and various other tours and adventure activities. Nepal is one of the leading trekking countries where the Himalayas provide unforgettable trekking experiences to enthusiastic travelers.
Eat Smart- Travel Smart
Likewise, one of the pressing matters when it comes to international traveling is diet. It is important to have dietary options that suit one's lifestyle and needs. This is an important aspect that can impact one's enjoyment and experience of travelling to another country. Nepal, comparatively being a developing country, has many rural areas where necessary infrastructures are not yet up to par. This can lead people to believe that traveling to Nepal with dietary restrictions can be a difficult task. As a matter of fact, it is the exact opposite. Nepal has options for both vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan meals. People with dietary restrictions can certainly travel to Nepal, and necessary adjustments are also easy to make if the need arises. There are no issues regarding restrictions and difficulty for specific diets in Nepal. Although fancy continental cuisines may not be on the menu at rural trekking areas, basic meals that pertain to the countryside are readily available.
Food and Eat in Nepal
Nepal is primarily an agricultural country. As such, it has resources available for vegetarian and vegan meals in plenty. As for the staple food of the country, it is Rice and Lentils, called Dal Bhat Tarkari in Nepali. Rice is one of the most well-loved and mass cooked foods in Nepal. For the most part, rice is served with Dal- a mixture of lentils and pulses and paired with vegetables. It is rich in carbohydrates and makes for the perfect meal while trekking as it leaves people with full and satisfied stomachs. It is easy to prepare and tastes great too. Dal Bhat Tarkari is easily available in the most rural of areas of Nepal as well, along with high altitude regions. In addition, Momo is another famous and well-loved food item in Nepal. In cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara, Momos are quite popular among people. Basically, Momos are little-steamed dumplings stuffed with either meat or vegetables and served with pickles and soups. Momos are also readily available at trekking destinations as well. To boot, the restaurants at the cities also prepare special meals upon request by the customers. If medical dietary restrictions are concerned, then travel companies can also prepare the required food as per the preference during the trekking trails.
Furthermore, as far as food goes, it has links to the cultures of the country as well. Like all foods around the world, Nepali culture on food has also changed and evolved over the last decade. Along with the food, the ways of preparing and the production of food have changed as well. In most typical Nepali households, homegrown food grains, leafy vegetables, lentils, and dairy products were eaten. Even certain recipes for dishes were specific to certain castes or ethnic communities. Self-cooking was the common norm among older people of the households, and prepared meals were first offered to the Gods before eating. This tradition is still in practice among many traditional households both in the rural and urban parts of Nepal. Nowadays, changes in the traditional way of food culture in Nepal are seen due to economic prosperity and the changing demographics and the environment. The food and the culinary heritage in Nepal are also heavily influenced by its neighboring countries, with Tibetan and Indian dishes becoming a part of the Nepali diet.
How to prepare oneself while traveling to Nepal with dietary restriction
Plan Your Trip
The food in Nepal, especially in the cities, is heavily influenced by Indian and Tibetan cuisines. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals are available at restaurants and hotels. In the tourist-heavy areas, the menus also consist of continental dishes from different countries. However, a typical Nepali diet, as mentioned, is Dal Bhat. Regional food items are also present while trekking, like the Everest region's Sherpa Stew and the apple pies of the Marpha valley. At higher altitudes in Nepal, rice does not grow well, but rice is instead substituted with the growth of maize, millet, buckwheat and barley. Another traditional dish of Nepal is the Dhedo- a dish prepared with agro-grains cooked into a rich pulp. Bhat, or rice, is also sometimes substituted with roti- round flatbread. The Dal on the other hand, is prepared several ways, and each region might prepare it differently. Mostly, Dal is cooked with onions, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes with the addition of tamarinds and chili mixed with lentils and beans.
While planning a trip to Nepal, it is best to have an open mind and enjoy what is available. While international dishes like pies and bakery items are also available, nothing beats out the energy-giving staple food of rice. Correspondingly, beverages are also available, both hot and cold. Special butter teas and local beers are amongst the most popular beverages among trekkers. In case of any allergies to food, you can inform about it before-hand to the travel agencies and they will make sure to arrange the trip accordingly. Similarly, while trekking, Himalayan cuisine mainly consists of locally grown grains and potatoes. Because of the cold temperatures, hot dishes are mostly preferred, such as soups, Thukpa- ramen-style soup with vegetables and meat, strong tea prepared with butter, and alcohol fermented with the local grains. The tea is also sometimes paired with Tsampa flour. Since cattle like yaks are raised in the Himalayas, yak cheese is another food delicacy that is available.
Likewise, in the hill region and the lowland Himalayan foothills, Thakali cuisine is famous. Exclusive Thakali restaurants are present in many regions of central Nepal while trekking as well. The Thakali cuisine generally is less vegetarian than the Pahari cuisine. Seasoned potatoes and eggs are also another popular Thakali dish. In the same manner, in the Kathmandu valley and bazaar towns of the mid-hills of Nepal, the Newari cuisines can also be enjoyed. The Newari culture has an emphasis on food and feasting and the cuisine is distinct. During ceremonial events and festivals, the Newari cuisine consists of a large variety of meals, with dishes made with buffalo meat, fried fish, cottage cheese, tofu and many myriads of Achar (pickles). Popular Newari dishes include Kawati (soup of different beans), Kachilaa (spiced minced meat), and Choila (marinated meat grilled over flames of dried wheat stalks) among many others.
Choose Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants
In the Kathmandu city, restaurants of all quality and available services are present. In the tourist-heavy areas of the city, like Thamel, there are restaurants that are established especially to cater to foreigners. According to Trip Advisor, some popular restaurants of Kathmandu include the Blueberry Kitchen and Coffee Shop, the Thamel Doner Kebab Restaurant, the Yala Café, the Fusion Himalaya Restaurant, the French Bakery, the Melrose Restaurant and Bar, and the Fire and Ice Pizzeria among many others. The amounts of restaurants to enjoy in the city are simply countless. In the same way, Pokhara city also has many restaurants that prepare vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan meals in European styles.
Choosing accommodation where you can cook yourself
There are many options for people who prefer to cook their own meals. Instead of choosing hotels, there are options available for Bed and Breakfasts, Home-stays and Apartments. These options allow you to have the liberty of preparing the meals by yourself. Universally accepted as excellent alternatives to Hotels, home-stays provide the opportunity for visitors to experience local culture firsthand. In Nepal, home-stays are mostly based on small villages and towns. According to the guidelines, Nepal home-stays require the concerned family to give a taste of local culture to visitors who are to be served whatever food the homeowners themselves eat.
Pack Your Food While Travelling
Another easy option to overcome dietary restriction is to travel-pack foods as per necessity and requirement. Travel packing food while visiting Nepal can supplement one's need for meals due to diet restrictions or allergies until an appropriate alternative is found. This can also be helpful to save money and is a good option for people who are picky eaters. It is not necessary to carry entire pantries while traveling as certain types of food work best, like dried or powdered packets easily found at grocery stores, powdered soups, oatmeal, and ramen noodles. Additionally, dried fruits, nuts, and granola bars are also a great option as food-on-the-go.
In conclusion, it is definitely possible to travel to Nepal with dietary restrictions. There are many options available and alternative solutions are also available on special needs like food allergies. Nepal is one of the best destinations to travel to, and it should not be missed out on myths of the food limitations as there are many options and choices available!