Fear of the unknown can be tough to handle. And being a vegetarian myself, who has relished the tasty treats of a Vegetarian tradition, coming to Germany for my education sounded challenging. The million dollar question “Will I still be able to eat the customary handful of curd rice after a meal?” You have had the same thought didn’t you?

Feel like a King. Try Cooking

Except for a few vegetables (like Ladies’ finger and Drumsticks), most vegetables such as Carrot, Potato, Onion, Capsicum, Cabbage, etc. are available in every Supermarket. Even the exceptions are available at Indian food stores in Stuttgart. So, cooking vegetarian specialties is doable.

Constraints are usually what limit one’s choices. Identify what are your constraints. While eating out requires more money, cooking by oneself needs patience and time. Sharing your cooking chores with friends can be a great plus! Makes it more fun too. In my experience, this is among the best things that makes one feel at home.

Be aware that no single method (cooking, eating out, readymade foods) is sustainable in the long run. It is surely a juggling act and that is why picking up some cooking skills before arriving helps. Even if not, shed your worries. The survival instinct surely transforms every Student into a better cook. While I did cook on and off even when in India, in the last 7 months in Germany my confidence has reached new heights.

Eating out – Options in plenty

While the German food options itself has limited Vegetarian choices, there is quite nothing that seems to fit into a Student budget.

University Canteens

As a Student, it can be relatively tough to find a balance between learning and cooking. Luckily there are a few choices that make life easier. The Student Canteen at Universities (called as ‘Mensa’) usually serves at least one Vegetarian dish every day like Spaghetti or a vegetarian Lasagne Bolognese. Other veg dishes include Salad varieties and French fries. To make things easier, Mobile Apps exist that provide info about the week’s Menu. So, depending on the workload along the week and dishes being served, it is possible to plan in advance.

Veg Spaghetti

Going International

The International food chains (like Subway, McDonalds, and Burger King) can be a saviour in a far-away land. A meal at these easy-to-find outlets can cost 3-5 Euros and rest assured that Vegetarian is a sure thing here. Sometimes they also throw student offers! A Subway’s Veggie Delite is surely all the way a Veggie’s delight (Read again if you didn’t note the pun). Of course, there is the Pizza option. Thank you Italians.

Dining at the Döners

Thanks to the Turks who have been living in Germany, the Turkish food outlets (also called as ‘Döner shops’) are a blessing (I am sure other Students from across the world wouldn’t disagree). The Döners and Falafels served here undoubtedly fill one’s appetite more than any other at the least expenses. Also they are almost omnipresent. While options are few for Veg folks, it makes things easier and saves the mental battle in making a choice. Too many choices to choose from is at times chaotic!

Doner (or Döner in German)

Indian and Asian Restaurants

Typical Indian-food Restaurants (usually run by Sri-Lankans) do exist though relatively fewer in number. The downside of wanting to eat one though is a bill that can easily go into double digits. Having relished the Dosas, Vadas and Rotis back in India, the mind may hesitate to pay up to 5-6 times the Indian prices even though the heart craves to have a bite.

Copper Bowl is in Indian Restaurant in the heart of Esslingen and can surely take one back to home. (Click link to see for yourself) The Mango Milkshake I had here shortly after arrival is surely rare to find elsewhere.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g641898-d7935528-Reviews-Copper_bowl-Esslingen_am_Neckar_Baden_Wurttemberg.html

Other Asian Restaurants (Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese) are also common in Esslingen and Stuttgart. Spotting the optimal one is a matter of tastes. After all, Tastes differ between each individual (literally and figuratively)

There IS something as free lunch, after all

Apart from the paid meals, there exist ‘free’ options such as Temple Prasad/Food distribution and Gurudwar lunch. Might as well relish some peace of mind for the mind and the stomach. Steve Jobs said about how he had free meals on Sundays at ISKCON temple. (Who knows? Make frequent visits and perhaps you could be the next Steve Jobs!)

Key Tips

  • Health is wealth. There is no alternative to this. Don’t go around starving with the idea of saving some money. Ensuring a nutritious food intake is therefore quite essential. This includes regular fruit and vegetable intake.
  • Maintaining an expense tracker works wonders and is highly recommended.
  • Bring along enough Indian spices to last 3-4 months when arriving. Even though most can be bought at Indian food stores, they can feel a tad too expensive at the start. Refills can very well be bought here.

Almost every student who begins to live and study in foreign land is quick to realize the value of food and the role of Parents, especially a Mother. To cook even a couple of dishes can be back-aching. Imagine the numerous tasty treats from your Mother every single day. One should be think twice before constantly complaining about it. So, learn to be thankful, if not helpful!

Guten Appetit!

Chandra Sekar Venkataramani
Chandra Sekar Venkataramani is from Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, India. Living in Germany since mid-2016, he completed his M.Eng in Automotive Systems at the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences and now works at IPG Automotive GmbH in Karlsruhe. An alumnus of Madras Institute of Technology, his interests include mobility and reading. Isaac Asimov’s Sci-Fi and Fantasy from George R.R. Martin are among his favorites.
You can reach him at sekarmit2009@gmail.com.
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