Vegan Thailand: All you need to know
Hello friends! If you’re reading this you’re probably vegan and looking for the scoop on vegan Thailand, or you’re bored, or lost (why not spend your time checking out the most awesome Unicorn cafe ever, or how to find the best vegan restaurants). Before you dive into the foodie bits, make sure you’ve found the best accommodation deals for your trip from Booking.com (click here) or Hotels Combined .
- 1 Challenges in vegan Thailand
- 2 How to say “I am Vegan” in Thai
- 3 Ordering tips and Thai phrases you’ll need in vegan Thailand
- 4 Vegan Thai food that doesn’t need altering
- 5 Vegan Thailand: Thai dishes that can be made vegan
- 6 Vegan Thailand: Vegan cafes
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 More posts that might be helpful
Challenges in vegan Thailand
As a vegan I found Bali travel a joyful breeze (click here to see our Bali posts including the best family friendly and vegan friendly restaurants). To be fair I am very happy eating the same food every day, three times a day pretty much, as long as it’s vegan and healthy and tasty. I ate tofu, tempeh, stir-fried veggies and rice every day for two months and was a very happy vegan bunny. I assumed that Thailand would be as easy for vegan travellers- in reality it has been a challenge. This is mainly for three reasons:
- We usually stay in non-touristy areas, and the vegan specialist cafes are often in the westernised areas as they are more expensive.
- I eat a protein-heavy diet; it’s the only way I feel satisfied, eating loads of fruit makes me feel sick (a throwback to when I was pregnant with the girls and fruit gave me horrendous acid reflux) so I need something like tofu or tempeh. Rice and veggies alone for every meal just does not cut it.
- When I have just had veggies or rice and veggies, there is usually some sort of animal product used to make it. If you order stir-fried greens they are very likely to come in oyster sauce or fish sauce. Even the papaya salad I’ve been loving usually has ground up shrimp, which I would never have guessed if I hadn’t seen a chef make it at a food court.
- BONUS REASON: Everything is meat. Street food stalls, restaurants, meals from 7/11 (the national convenience store), all meat based. I’ve been in restaurants and food courts where there is not one vegetarian dish on the menu, let alone vegan.
So it’s been a challenge. Here are my top tips to ensure you can eat a happy vegan Thailand diet while travelling in this beautiful country.
How to say “I am Vegan” in Thai
For women: “Chan gin jay”
For men: “Pom gin jay”
Ordering tips and Thai phrases you’ll need in vegan Thailand
When ordering a seemingly vegan dish, ensure that you ask for no fish sauce, no oyster sauce and no dried shrimp. These are standard additions to many Thai dishes and are obviously not vegan. Here are the Thai phrases vegan travellers will need (the spellings are NOT accurate, I have written them as you’ll need to say them):
“Mimi nam pla” (No fish sauce)
“Mimi kung” (No shrimp)
“Mimi horee nangrom” (no oyster sauce)
“Mimi nooah” (no meat)
“Mimi kai” (no egg)
“Mimi nom” (no milk)
“Mimi cheez” (no cheese)
“Man saweerat borisu” (pure vegetarian / vegan)
Vegan Thai food that doesn’t need altering
So here are some of my favourite vegan Thai foods that I’ve been having. There aren’t many because seriously, almost all Thai dishes have some animal additions. When I got a fruit smoothie I realised they’d added condensed milk. TO A FRUIT SMOOTHIE, WHY? So here’s the stuff that I’ve found that is naturally vegan without having to ask for special changes:
- Sticky rice and mango– this is a sweet dish that is actually made in Heaven, sent down to be served on Khao San road and the like. Sticky rice is cooked in sweet coconut milk and served with slices of fresh mango. Bliss.
2. Deep-fried tofu. I had this in Bangkok and it was gorgeous- cubes of tofu in a crispy, salty coating with a soft inside, served with quick-fried garlic, onion and chilli garnish.
3. Rice. Obviously.
4. Rice noodles. See above.
5. Veggies stir-fried in soy sauce
Yup, writing this really feels like stating the obvious but that’s how it is! When you want something more substantial…
Vegan Thailand: Thai dishes that can be made vegan
So here’s some of my favourite Thai dishes that, with a bit of fine tuning, you can order as a vegan when traveling in Thailand.
Green Thai curry– check for chicken stock and fish sauce
Red Thai curry– check for shrimp paste
Massaman curry– check for beef stock, shrimp paste and fish sauce
Yellow Thai curry– check for fish sauce
Pad Thai- check for fish sauce, chicken stock and egg
Papaya Salad– check for ground dried shrimp
Stir-fried morning glory– check for oyster sauce
Stir-fried broccoli- check for added shrimp
Fruit smoothies, tea and coffee– check for added condensed milk
Vegan Thailand: Vegan cafes
Here’s a round-up of Thailand’s vegan restaurants (or vegetarian with vegan options) to start you vegan travellers off with some foolproof, ethical, tasty food before you start trying to order from local places! Click on each restaurant for their official website, location, contact details etc.
Bangkok vegan restaurants
Bonita cafe and social club– A vintage-inspired cafe run by a cute couple and a few cats!
Govinda Italian restaurant– A vegan and vegetarian restaurant serving delicious Italian cuisine
May Veggie Home– Serving local and international dishes plus a vegan bakery and vegan ice cream!
Veganerie Bangkok: A classy joint with hearty dishes, breakfasts and smoothies
Broccoli Revolution: Organic Thai and Burmese vegan cuisine and cold-pressed juices
Chiang Mai vegan restaurants
Amrita Garden- Organic vegan dishes in a cosy atmosphere
Free Bird Cafe– Vegan eatery with 100% of the proceeds going to support Burmese refugees
Reform Kafe– Vegan cafe in beautiful surroundings within the Old City
Tea Tree Cafe– Another popular cafe with an open mic night on Saturdays
Taste from Heaven– Vegan food from £2 a dish, plus vegan desserts
Phuket vegan restaurants
Pure vegan heaven– Vegan burgers, salads and even creme brûlée…
Yo Green Vegetarian and Vegan – Large portions of hearty vegan dishes
(Other restaurant locations on Google but no websites)
Koh Samui restaurants
Vikasai Life Organic – High end raw vegan cuisine
(Other restaurant locations on Google but no websites)
Thailand is a great place to travel, with loads of fresh, delicious food, beautiful weather and scenery. We have loved our travels and manage to travel on a shoestring budget, even finding apartments near the beach (with pool!) for £300/month. To see the best accommodation deals click here to have Booking.com do the leg work for you, or click here to see what Hotels Combined has to offer. These are the platforms we always use to get the cheapest accommodation short-term (if you’re wondering what we spend in South East Asia in a month, click here for the complete breakdown).
More posts that might be helpful