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Re: Vegetarian Traveler

At 03:28 AM 7/26/98 -0700, you wrote:
>Date: Sat, 25 Jul 1998 18:27:08 -0400
>From: loriron <otisma@xxxxxxxxxxx>
>Subject: China
>Message-Id: <35BA5BBC.7C97@xxxxxxxxxxx>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
>Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
>We are going to China and Bangkok in the spring.  Does anyone know if we
>will have difficulty getting veggies and rice without oil.  What about
>tofu.  We eat a VERY LOW Fat diet.  Also, any restaurants that people
>can suggest in the major cities?
Sorry this is so long.  From Frommers.

Is That Ham on My Pasta? Vegetarian Travelers Need No Longer Go
Hungry Abroad

In 1995, Michael Ward, a jazz/blues bassist with the J. Geils and
Bluestime band, arrived home from a tour in Japan noticeably thinner
and very hungry.  The reason?  Michael Ward is a vegetarian--a way of
life defined very differently by individuals worldwide.  Not only
does Michael recount familiar horrors faced by every tourist while
trying to order food in a restaurant abroad (my mother once
unknowingly ate calves' brains in Spain), but the particular
nightmare of ordering dishes with or without specific ingredients,
particularly meat of any sort. "For example, in Mexico, learning to
say 'sin carne' didn't deter the waiter from bringing me a hefty
plate of noodles with large pieces of ham across the top.  When I
pointed to the ham and repeated 'sin carne' the waiter nodded his
approval by repeating those words. That's not meat, I was told.
That's ham."

His solution? Frustrated and hungry while traveling in Japan, Michael
finally asked a music promoter (and native Japanese) to write out a
simple card in Japanese explaining exactly what vegetarians eat and,
more importantly, do not eat.  But even this plan was not
foolproof--he was once served clams because the card said "no
seafood."  In Japan, clams are shellfish, not seafood--the music
promoter had not specified no seafood or shellfish.   Michael Ward
took the card home to the U.S. and asked a Japanese friend in the
Boston area to help make the card more detailed.  And then an idea
struck him--what if every vegetarian tourist could be equipped (if he
or she chooses) with a foolproof translation in any language of his
or her dietary restrictions? 

And so the Vegetarian Traveler was born. The firm, run by Michael and
his mother Ann, markets sets of passport-sized cards in 16 different
languages, affording those with limited diets some peace of mind. 

Available in Vegan (eats no animals, no dairy, no eggs), Lacto (eats
no animals and no eggs but eats dairy products) or Ovo-Lacto (eats no
animals but eats eggs and dairy products), the cards are a simple way
to make ordering abroad less of a hassle.  Color-coded by cover sheet
for ease (vegan cover sheets are red, ovo-lacto yellow, and lacto
green), a full set of 16 cards is available at the extremely
reasonable price of $9.95 . The set includes Arabic, Chinese, Czech,
Danish, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese,
Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and now also (if
specified on the mail-order form) Thai, Polish, and Finnish.  The
cards are easily enclosed and carried in either a complimentary vinyl
envelope or individually for a specific trip--travelers, say, to
Paris need only bring along the single French card rather than the
whole stack.  Custom-made cards in additional languages are also
willingly, enthusiastically, and readily made (within 3 to 4 weeks)
for the minimal charge of $2.95 (for a single card in a language
already translated) or $5.95 (for a single card in a language not
already translated).   Add $1 to all prices for shipping and

Most notable? Michael Ward single-handedly prints every card (his day
job is in the print shop of a hospital in Boston)--and the company is
totally private and receives no outside backing of any kind. A
mixture of family, friends, and associates provide the translations
free-of-charge (the Greek was done by The Greek Institute in
Cambridge, the Czech by an organization recommended by the Boston
consulate, the German by family friends and the Spanish by a
daughter-in-law from Barcelona). The "trickiest" part of the
enterprise, recounts Ann Ward, was deciding on the proper phrasing of
the English prototype.  The cards, for instance, read:  "I am a
vegetarian (ovo-lacto) I eat NO animals of any kind. I DO eat dairy
products such as cheese and non-fertile eggs.  To specify: NO
MAMMALS, NO INSECTS, NO REPTILES (such as snakes or lizards; no
amphibians, such as frogs), NO BY-PRODUCTS (such as animal fat, lard,
suet, or gravies)."  Such detail is necessary, Ann explains
diligently, as, for example, in France, one could easily be served
something like frog's legs in lieu of meat or poultry if the "no
amphibian rule" was not specified on the card.   Michael Ward seconds
his mother's concerns--noodles in China might seem safe for the
vegetarian until the sauce is mixed in.  Thus, "no by-products,"
including gravy. 

But rest assured--all translations are "restaurant tested" (usually
by Michael Ward himself) and double-checked by either language
schools or native speakers.
For more information or to order a set of cards write to: Vegetarian
Traveler, P.O. Box 410205, Cambridge MA 02141 (or e-mail
vegtravel@xxxxxxx).  TVT is also online at

Michael Farber
The Qualitech Group Inc.