Letter from a reader: Vegetarian travel in Kenya – is it possible?

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Vegetarian travel – is it really that difficult? Travelling as a vegetarian is not something everyone finds easy. I got an email from a reader who was worried about her vegetarian daughter going to Kenya to volunteer, and the organizers of her stay in Kenya told her they doubted that she would be able to eat vegetarian all the time she was there. I have also noticed several search terms on my blog about eating vegetarian in Kenya, so I want to share this letter from a reader and my answers with my other readers.

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Question from Cindy:
Hi after reading you webpage I wonder if you could offer some advice. My daughter has been chosen to go on an exchange to Kenya next June for two weeks. She is and always has been a vegetarian but now the school is raising concerns that she may have to eat meat! A thought that fills both of us with dread. Would you be kind enough to suggest some meals that would be available in more rural Kenya (she is travelling from Nairobi to Kisumu and back) that I can present to the teachers at school to allay their fears, and that they would then be able to look out for whilst over there. Thanks so much for your help.


My Reply:
Dear Cindy, I don´t think you should be concerned that she has to eat meat. In general there is bad knowledge of what a vegetarian actually is in Kenya, especially in the rural areas. I have traveled in rural parts of Kenya, and I have always been able to eat vegetarian. However – you may have to eat a bit “boring” from time to time. I have some meals to suggest for vegetarian travelers in Kenya.

– My favorite: Ndengu (also called green grams). Make sure there is not meat broth in it
– Ugali is usually available – that is “porridge” from maize flour and is used as we use potatoes or rice. Rice is also available many places.
– Greens similar to spinach is, often called cale or “sukuma wiki”.
– Cabbage, fried or boiled
– Githeri is a dish with beans and maize and some greens
– Chapati – the flat bread.
– If she eats eggs that should be available everywhere, and is great with chapati.
– Mandazi is kind of a sweet bread
– Milk and yoghurt is available in supermarkets and can be used as supplement if she has to eat a lot    of chapatti with no proteins for a while
– Fruit and fresh vegetables are available everywhere, with a peeler and bottled water for washing she can eat any of them.


I advise every traveling vegetarian to keep their favorite spread in their luggage, because bread is available in most countries – and everywhere in Kenya! My favorite is peanut butter. Also, bring some nuts and dried fruit.

I hope this helps, and ask her to print this and bring it – some handy words for vegetarians in Swahili.
As long as you manage to communicate what you want and what you don´t want, it should not be too difficult to stick to your chosen diet.

Kenya is a lovely country; I hope she will enjoy it as much as I did.

Best wishes

Do you have any questions about eating vegetarian on travel? Don´t hesitate to get in touch!


About the Author Elin

I´m an Oslo based web publisher with passion for communication, travel and a green lifestyle. When I travel, I prefer to go slow, sustainable, and “live like a local”. Why slow? It is about challenging the cult of speed, and to enjoy the small things in life and to live in the present.

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