I am getting ready to visit two new places this summer, Puerto Rico and Finland. I speak enough Spanish to ask if it is without meat but I've discovered a cooks idea of no meat is not mine.
One time, I ordered a tofu soup at a Korean place and got a beautiful red soup. I had asked if it contained meat and they assured me it did not. The owner was right as far as it did not have beef, pork, or chicken. It has shrimp and a fish broth.
Another time, I saw a vegetable soup on the menu in Mexico, I asked about meat and was assured it didn't have any. It had lumps of chicken in it so I assume they did not see chicken as meat. Its harder if you do not speak the language well enough to explain you prefer not to even have a meat or fish broth.
Over time, I have become somewhat accepting that when I buy food, it may have something in it I do not want to eat. So I often purchase fruits and vegetables to eat raw if I do not have access to cooking facilities. If I do, I visit the local market for things to prepare something I can eat.
I will be the first to admit, I have had to bite the bullet and just eat around the visible meat and hope for the best. In some places, they honestly believe a vegetarian is someone who wants the meat and lots of vegetables. Its hard to convince them otherwise.
I'll be traveling with a friend who cannot eat gluten or dairy products. Those are a bit easier because he knows not to have baked goods but there might be some in a thickened stew or soup so he may not be able to avoid it totally.
I often wonder how people manage who have extremely restricted diets when they travel. I know someone who is allergic to anything canned, green beans and so many other things while her husband must eat extremely low fat dishes. They seldom travel anymore due to their dietary concerns.
There are suggestions for managing special diets no matter where in the world you land.
1. Scope out the restaurants before booking to see if they have options you can eat.
2. Do not let food restrict your travel, figure out how to make it work.
3. Be bold in restaurants, find cards in the local language explaining your dietary restrictions. Be prepared to mix and match foods as needed.
4. Pack a few stable supplies just in case you can't find anything.
5. Look for food that appears to meet your diet. If it looks vegetarian, I will often eat it, hoping it is.
Let me know what things you do to meet your needs when traveling. I'd love to hear from others.