Do not decide to be a vegetarian when you arrive. Being comfortable as a vegetarian in your hometown is the key to success. You will be stressed beyond your imagination. So if vegetarian is not your natural lifestyle, slipping is easy.
In France if you say you are a vegetarian, the French will assume you eat fish. It is a common mistake made. A professuer recommended that I always say, ” Je ne mange pas de viande (I do not eat meat).” It will be more simple in a restaurant or if you are invited to a French dinner.
Because of the confusion between a pescatarian and a vegetarian in France, avoid fried food. In the “cantine” at my university there are signs saying they are vegetarian friendly and fry with fish oil.
Buy a crock-pot and/or an electric boiler. It will save you money and time. The electric boiler can be bought for about 10Euros at Carrefour (Supermarket), and the crock-pot can be found at a used store or eBay.fr for about 20Euros
And buy veggies to cook. I suggest open markets on the weekends, Lidl, and Aldi for the cheapest produce. You will become accustomed to the stores and learn how to shop smart in about a month or two. It is fun to go shopping for food!
Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you do not know your vocabulary for food, you will learn quickly! Try all sorts of things, expecally if it is on sale! I don’t eat dairy, but I am in cheese heaven. I am excited about learning about France food, and it is part of the experiance. Don’t feel bad about not being able to try the French meat dishes, there are plenty of other things to try!
**If you are vegan, the French have alternative milk, soy yogurt/pudding, nuts, and dried beans for protein.**
Be proud of being a vegetarian! The French are open people, but they might not understand – just like in the USA. So do not be afraid to stand up for yourself! Just explain in simple English or (better) in simple French why you decided to become a vegetarian.