Vegan Philippines: How Hard Is It?
The Philippines is probably one of the last countries to fully embrace veganism. Filipinos love their meat just as much as they can’t live without their white rice. Many of the people in the Philippines probably have never even heard of the word veganism and the concept of a vegan Philippines scene is one that is very slowly growing.
If you are vegan you will likely struggle to maintain a complete vegan lifestyle in the Philippines while you travel. You and your family need to do a thorough research, a lot of explaining to people at restaurants and a lot of asking questions whether this and that contain fish sauce, shrimp paste, or any animal by-product.
This, however, doesn’t mean it is impossible for vegans to travel in the Philippines! In fact, it can be made easy if you know where to look and if you are knowledgeable about some Filipino traditional vegetable dishes. Here is some valuable information on how you and your family can survive if you are all vegans and would like to travel a tropical paradise like the Philippines.
Helpful Phrases For Vegans In The Philippines
English speaking travellers will be happy to know that English is one of the official languages of the Philippines and so there is no need to memorise vegan-friendly phrases, unlike in Thailand where being vegan can be a real challenge!
It is helpful to know that Philippine diet is heavy in meat, fish and cheese and if you order something without these items, your waiter may worry that you will find the food bland so you may need to reassure them that you’re perfectly happy without it!
Vegan Philippines Diet
Vegan-only restaurants are almost non-existent in rural areas in the Philippines. If you are in Manila or other major cities in the country, you have a high chance of finding one though. It is important to note though that vegetarian restaurants in the Philippines still sometimes serve fish and other animal-by products such as milk and egg so it is still necessary for you to check all the ingredients that are in the food. One of the best ways to find additional places to eat at is by getting the Happy Cow App and checking out my comprehensive guide on finding vegan food wherever you are in the world.
Restaurants With Vegan Options In Manila
- Corner Tree Café – This mainly vegetarian café in Makati has a wide variety of menu including vegan and gluten-free options. Try their spinach filo triangles, vego chili, and walnut burger.
- Pipino – This vegan restaurant is inside Teacher’s village in Quezon City above Pino Resto Bar. They serve all-Filipino dishes with a twist, 100% plant-based and with locally-sourced ingredients.
- Hummus Elijah – If you want the best hummus and falafel in the Philippines, go to Hummus Elijah in Makati. They serve all vegan and vegetarian dishes. Many of the dishes contain egg as default, so make sure you tell them to remove it.
- People’s Palace – Located inside Greenbelt Mall in Makati, People’s Palace is a Thai restaurant serving a varied menu including vegan options. It is also one of the most well rated eating spots in Manila.
- Green Planet Vegetarian – If you happen to visit Binondo, Manila (Chinatown) look for this restaurant and you will not be disappointed with their vegan menu.
Restaurants With Vegan Options In Cebu
- Lunhaw Vegan Café – This café serves different dishes but mainly vegan. It is located inside Maxwell hotel in Cebu City. Vegan options range from main dishes to salads, appetizers, pasta, soups and beverages.
- Wellnessland Health Institute and Vegan Café – As of May 2018, they stopped serving honey and purely vegan menu options. They offer cooked and raw dishes plus detoxifying array of juices.
- Toniq – Located inside Ayala Center Mall (4th level), this spot serves 90% vegan menu options. It is important to note though that all items are pre-made and can be re-heated.
- Eden Green Vegan Foods Delivery – if you feel lazy or if you can’t find any vegan restaurants in your area, just call Eden and they will deliver.
- Kit’s Kitchen – If you and your kids fancy vegan desserts after meal, try Kit’s Kitchen’s donut and cookies. Take note though that it is not all vegan so make sure to choose carefully and ask if unsure.
Restaurants with Vegan options in Boracay
- Supermagic in Boracay does a vegan burger with fresh chunky fries
- Subo- currently the only Filipino restaurant in Boracay, it’s not a vegan restaurant but can provide plenty of tasty vegan dishes including tofu adobo and vegan spring rolls.
- There is also a Subway and a 7/11 to stock up on vegan sandwiches and snacks!
Other Vegan Restaurants Outside The City
- Happiness Express (El Nido, Palawan) – They offer vegan options but they also serve meat. The vegan and vegetarian options are clearly-labelled like salads, falafel and hummus.
- Levine’s (Coron National Highway, Palawan) – Vegan options are available but quite limited. They do serve western and Filipino vegetarian dishes.
- Mabuti Eat and Chill (Port Barton, Palawan) – Requests for vegan versions of other dishes are accommodated. They have several vegan salads and homemade Italian vegan gelato.
- Buzz Café (Panglao, Bohol) – All organic ingredients are sourced from their own farm. They make their own salads, breads and spreads and all are plant-based. Treat your whole family to the best vegan ice cream with unique flavours in the country.
- Shaka Bohol (Panglao, Bohol) – They serve fresh vegetables and fruits and is known for their smoothie bowls consisting of nuts, berries, granola, and fresh fruits. They also make vegan muffins and cake.
What To Do When There Is No Vegan Restaurant In The Area
Fruits are everywhere:
Anywhere in the Philippines, you will easily find loads of fruits and vegetable stalls. Wherever you are you can find vendors in the supermarkets, local wet market, or on the side of the road. The country is blessed with a lot of fruit trees like banana, mango, avocado (seasonal), coconut, pineapple, watermelon, jackfruit, passion fruit, apples and oranges, making it easier for fruit lovers to navigate the vegan Philippines!
Cook your own Vegan meals
If all else fail, your best option is to cook your own vegan meal. The local market and supermarkets have a huge array of vegetables and local spices. Vegan pasta and other vegan meat alternatives may not be easy to find even in the supermarkets but beans, tofu, soy sauce, and vegan cooking oil (sunflower, olive and canola) are easy.
There are numerous holiday homes that are for rent in the Philippines with fully-equipped and functioning kitchen. So if you want to ensure that you are still able to keep your vegan lifestyle in the Philippines, you may need to look for rooms with self-serving facilities.
Stock up on vegan snacks
Vegan snacks can be found in the supermarkets and even in local convenience stores. There’s plenty of oreos, green peas snacks, dried fruits, nuts, muesli biscuits, coffee, tea and soymilk. They always come in handy during waiting and traveling times. Food on the plane are mostly non-vegans and there’s not a lot of restaurants near the airport.
Bring your own vegan supply from home
To make sure that you don’t run low on protein, it won’t hurt to bring your own supply from home especially the ones that you know are not easy to find in the Philippines. Bring your own protein bars, vitamin supplements (B12, D, Calcium and Iron), dried chickpeas and protein powder.
Take note of some local dishes/ingredients that are actually vegan
This helps if you are in a remote area and all you can find is a simple eatery. If lucky, you can even request to the owner to cook something for you and you can refer to this list.
- Malunggay soup – Malunggay is moringa and Filipinos typically use it for soups. The ingredients are simple: Malunggay, salt, tomatoes, ginger, water and onion.
- Bulanglang – another type of soup that is made with malunggay or kangkong (watercress) or spinach. Other ingredients are: tofu, cubed squash, onion, water, tomatoes and upo (gourd).
- Adobong gulay (vegetable adobo) – Gulay means vegetables and adobo is a cooking method of stewing in vinegar and soy sauce. Ingredients include: eggplant, tofu, potatoes, bay leaves, pepper corns, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, onion and vegetable oil.
- Lumpiang sariwa – Fresh lumpia is a savory all-vegetable dish wrapped in a vegan crepe topped with a thick soy sauce and peanuts.
- Banana and camote cue – It is a delectable Filipino snack made with plantains and sweet potato on a bamboo stick dipped in sugar and fried in vegetable oil.
- Suman – Filipino snack made with sticky rice and wrapped in banana leaves.
Vegan Philippines Tours
Fortunately, when it comes to tours and sightseeing, the Philippines has a lot of vegan-friendly activities to offer.
- TAO Philippines – It is an organization that supports organic farming, uses sailboats without motor (to protect marine life) and connects to local communities for immersions. The guests sleep in bamboo huts and experience total digital deprivation.
- Donsol Whale Shark Experience – The tourism sector for whale shark sightings in Donsol, Sorsogon implements strict policies to ensure that the whale sharks are protected and that they follow their natural migration patterns by not letting tourists feed them and no touching and use of sunscreen. Try out Philippinestravelpackage.com for this and other eco-friendly and responsible tours.
- Nature Trips – Tours like hiking, chasing waterfalls and island-hopping that are eco-friendly and promotes responsible tourism are vegan-friendly.
Should You Travel To The Philippines As A Vegan?
Absolutely, yes! The Philippines is an amazing country full of stunning nature, amazing wildlife and lovely people. With a little planning and preparation travelling to the Philippines as a vegan can be a wonderful experience that you’ll never forget. We highly recommend the Lonely Planet Guide to the Philippines to help you make the most of your time there and discover the must-sees and hidden spots of this beautiful country.