Welcome to Switzerland
Switzerland is without doubt a great country to visit. It has a long tradition of hospitality and can satisfy many needs and desires. It has so much to offer at any time of the year and nearly all areas, even mountaintops, are accessible by public transport. With little effort you can enjoy your favorite sport, visit one or two of more than 1000 museums and expositions, be part of many open air music festivals during the summer, enjoy international film festivals in Zurich and Locarno, or visit the famous Art Basel.
The cuisine of Switzerland is still very traditional. Some dishes are common to most parts of the country. These include fondue, raclette and rösti. Many regions just add their special twist to a dish. Sadly, the primary fat used in the classic cuisine is butter, and cream, milk, cheese, and melted cheese are often used. Vegetables and fish dishes are also either cooked in butter or finished with butter or cheese.
The southern or Italian part of Switzerland is a very pleasant region to visit with its Mediterranean climate. When it comes to its cuisine, meat and cheese also dominate menus. Olive oil is not traditional and butter is widely used.
In bigger cities you may find places for Asian, Italian, or Lebanese cuisine, and restaurants with plant-based options, but it is always necessary to ask if they use dairy in their dishes. In the countryside or up in the mountains, whole food plant-based dishes are extremely rare. I advise you to stay in a larger city with healthy food options and health food stores and plan day trips to the mountains. Plan to take your own snacks and food for a day trip.
Luckily, Switzerland still has a traditional farming culture and small farms are common. Each city and larger town hosts a fresh produce market at least once a week. Zurich for example, has a fresh market almost every day in one of its squares.
If you rent an apartment during your visit and have a kitchen on hand and a car, it is great to drive around, as lots of farms sell fresh produce, sometimes with an honesty system that allows you to take what you need and leave the money in a box.
Some details are important. Bread often contains milk, butter or milk powder. There is no guarantee that even whole grain bread is dairy free. I recommend buying bread at a health food store, or Reformhaus, as these shops are called in Switzerland. Dairy free sweets often contain margarine or coconut fat and the most popular brands of ice cream put milk in their sorbets.
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