One of the questions I get most frequently is, "Isn't it hard to travel as a vegetarian?" The short answer is an emphatic NO. I won't get into the entirety of the long answer here, but one of the reasons it's not hard is the Hare Krishnas. Yes, those people that were the butt of airport jokes for the duration of the 1980s. I should mention that it's properly called ISKCON (the International Society for Krishna Consciousness) but for the sake of familiarity I'll continue to refer to the movement as Hare Krishna. They've opened restaurants -- vegetarian restaurants -- in cities all over the world. Most of them are called Govinda's; Govinda being one of the names of Vishnu, a Hindu god. I ate in a few of them while traveling recently, and at one here in Brooklyn. I should note that not all Govinda's are affiliated with the Hare Krishna movement. In Cusco, Peru, tucked away in a corner of the Mercado San Blas, is Govinda Lila.
Run by the charming Lila, it's not officially a Hare Krishna restaurant. It is, however, where I had the best meal of my week in Peru. Lila serves a multi-course meal that changes daily, based on what's fresh in the market, and it's dirt cheap.
A continent away is the Govinda's in Sydney. It's a completely different kind of setup -- for starters, it's paired with a movie theater that shows Bollywood films, which you can pair with your dinner. There's a menu, but the real attraction is the large buffet stocked with vegetarian and vegan options. It's a mix of Indian and western foods; everything from pakoras to potato salad. It's all-you-can-eat, but it's a lot more expensive than Govinda LilaThe Sydney Govinda's is an affiliated restaurant.
Here in Brooklyn the Govinda's is also affiliated; it's in the basement of a Hare Krishna temple. It's also in Downtown Brooklyn, and a poplar lunch spot for people who work in the neighborhood. The Brooklyn Govinda's is cafeteria-style. You line up and order piece by piece, or you can get a "full meal" and get a bit of everything.
Govinda's are a boon to vegetarian travelers. Even the affiliated ones seem to have some free rein in the type of food they serve. As long as it's vegetarian, it's fair game. You can find a complete list of affiliated Govinda's here.
Govinda Lila -- Mercado San Blas, Cusco
Sydney Govinda's -- 112 Darlinghurst Rd, Sydney
New York Govinda's -- 305 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn