where to find vegan eats across Asia

Wondering how and where to eat vegan in countries across Asia? Read on to learn about how different countries approach veganism as well as some of our local teams’ favourite vegan restaurant recommendations!

 

BHUTAN

Though most of Bhutan’s traditional food, like the national dish of ema datshi, incorporate cheese or meat, it’s not difficult to find vegan varieties thanks to vegetable-heavy dishes and fresh produce all year round. Your local guide can always point you in the right direction and recommend dishes packed with vegetables (and lots of that famous Bhutanese spice!).

DIETHELM RECOMMENDS

Mountain Café, Paro

Mountain Café is a vegetarian haven specialising in using its homegrown fresh, organic ingredients, such as lettuce, root vegetables and herbs.

Ambient Café, Thimpu

Popular with Thimpu’s expats, Ambient Café is located above Norzin Lam and boasts a varied menu featuring high-quality espresso, juices and smoothies, vegan breakfasts, buckwheat waffles, sandwiches, plus homemade cakes and ice cream.

 


 

CAMBODIA

Siem Reap – known to some as “Temple Town” – is home to the magnificent Angkor Wat and plenty of vegetarian or vegan restaurants. As a vegan traveller, you won’t go hungry here and can easily find plenty of plant-based options in international restaurants and cafes as well as traditional restaurants. Vegetables serve as a base for many Khmer dishes so it’s often easy to request vegan preparation, especially in Siem Reap or the capital of Phnom Penh.

DIETHELM RECOMMENDS

ARTillery, Phnom Penh & Siem Reap

This art gallery and creative cafe has branches in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap focusing on healthy living, including hosting community art projects, food classes, wellness events and detox programmes. The plant-based menu is filled with satisfying vegetarian, vegan and raw dishes, often incorporating superfoods and organic, local ingredients.

VIBE, Phnom Penh & Siem Reap

With cafes in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, VIBE focuses on good food and good vibes. Each nourishing, plant-based dish – from acai bowls to vegan burgers, tacos to tabbouleh – is created using ethically sourced ingredients with house-made toppings, dressings and more. Along with a wide range of smoothies and teas, you can also find vegan-friendly goods, like cashew cheese, to buy and take with you.

 


 

HONG KONG

Hong Kong is known for its incredible, varied cuisine and this extends to its vegan offerings as well. As a global city, many restaurants and hotels support the growing plant-based eating trend and you can find everything from vegan cakes to even dim sum!

 

DIETHELM RECOMMENDS

MANA! Central, Central

This popular cafe specialises in healthy, organic and vegetarian Lebanese fare. Try one of the flatbread wraps spiced with zaatar, get your greens in with a fresh salad, dig into a veggie burger, and sip on one of the vitamin-packed juices or smoothies. Along with offering good-for-you food, the cafe is also committed to operating on a zero-waste policy.

Miss Lee, Central

Miss Lee offers an array of delicious modern Chinese dishes that are vegan, dairy-free or egg-free. Along with a la carte dishes filled with different veggies, diners can also opt for the lunch set, including the daily soup, mains, rice or noodles. The fun and friendly restaurant also has a takeaway counter where you can snag ready-to-eat options and freshly made smoothies.

 

 

 

LAOS

Outside the major cities of Vientiane and Luang Prabang, vegan options in Laos are a bit limited but not impossible to find. If you’re sticking to a strict vegan diet, however, it’s important to be aware of some common foods and ingredients that may work their way into otherwise vegan dishes. For example, soya milk is widely available throughout the country but usually from the Lactosoy brand, which often sells a version that has dairy milk in it. Then there’s the fish sauce. The Lao people have their own variety of fish sauce, called padaek, which can end up in your food if you aren’t careful.

DIETHELM RECOMMENDS 

Khaiphaen, Luang Prabang

Named after the popular crispy Lao snack made from Mekong River weed, Khaiphaen Restaurant offers vocational training to the local youth to prepare them for jobs in the region’s growing hospitality and restaurant industries. The menu showcases regional Lao dishes, both vegetarian and with meat.

Tamarind Restaurant & Cooking School, Luang Prabang

Overlooking the Nam Khan River, Tamarind provides a delectable introduction to the dishes and flavours of Laos. Choose from individual dishes, create your own buffet of salads or partake in a sharing platter – if you have any questions, the staff are on hand to talk you through what you are eating and how to enjoy it. Though the restaurant serves meat, many dishes can be prepared for vegetarians or vegans and the staff are well-versed in customising orders to meet dietary preferences.

 

 

MALAYSIA 

Malaysia is home to many different ethnicities and national origins, which carries over into its varied cuisine. The range of delicious dishes that can be found here is incredible. Most Malaysian can ethnically be described as Malay, Indian or Chinese – all of which have strong culinary roots in vegan and vegetarian cooking – so it’s common to find a variety of vegan and vegetarian dining options.

DIETHELM RECOMMENDS

Simple Life

Simple Life is a local vegetarian chain with a number of outlets located throughout the country. All dishes are prepared without using MSG, trans-fat, white sugar or white flour, colourings or preservatives. The casual eatery offers many 100% vegan dishes while others may come with eggs or dairy…though many of the non-vegan dishes can be prepared vegan upon request.

JanXden Greenlife, George Town, Penang

Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, JanXden in the centre of George Town features a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan Western and Asian dishes. You can try some local Peranakan favourites or even pesto spaghetti all at decent prices.

 

 

MALDIVES

Following a plant-based lifestyle is picking up speed around the globe and the luxury hotels and resorts in the Maldives are embracing the trend as they meet the needs of international guests. Today’s travellers to the Maldives will find not only select vegan options on their resort’s menus, but complete vegan menus and restaurants.

DIETHELM RECOMMENDS

Just Veg at Atmosphere Kanifushi

Elevating 100% meat-free cookery to new levels, Just Veg at Atmosphere Kanifushi is the Maldives first entirely vegetarian eatery, serving gourmet cuisine influenced by the Mediterranean, Middle East and India. The restaurant also offers a special Jain menu.

Shades of Green at Soneva Fushi

All diners at Shades of Green begin their culinary experience with a guided tour of the resort’s garden, picking ingredients to be used in their meal and coming across hidden amuse-bouches. The meal – which features plant-based dishes blending Maldivian and Southeast Asian cuisines with Nordic cooking techniques – continues around a fire pit for the first course before sitting at tables beneath the fruit trees.

 

 

MYANMAR

Though like most Southeast Asian countries, there is often a little bit of meat found in most traditional dishes, you can still easily order vegan dishes in Myanmar, whether you’re eating at a small local stall or high-end hotel. Neighbouring India, arguably one of the best countries for vegan and vegetarian dining, and known for its variety of flavourful salads made with different leaves, greens and herbs, vegan dishes in Myanmar are varied, flavourful and affordable!

DIETHELM RECOMMENDS

Nourish Cafe, Yangon

Nourish Cafe is a plant-based restaurant located at Yangon Yoga House that follows a philosophy of eating unprocessed whole foods with a delectable meat- and dairy-free menu. Along with lowering its carbon footprint by not serving animal products, the welcoming cafe also focuses on mindful ingredient sourcing and provides eco-friendly packaging.

Moon Vegetarian Restaurant, Bagan

This local open-air vegetarian eatery is located on a small dirt road north of Ananda Temple, just off the old main road. While it offers a variety of veggie dishes, the curries (like tofu coconut curry or pumpkin curry) and Burmese-style salads are particularly popular.

 

 

PHILIPPINES

Finding vegan food in the Philippines is more difficult than many other Southeast Asia countries but not impossible. While Filipino cuisine heavily features meat and dairy, you’ll discover a handful of vegan eateries in Manila or other major cities. Keep in mind, however, that restaurants with a lot of plant-based options may also still serve fish or use other animal by-products.

DIETHELM RECOMMENDS

Cosmic – Poblacion

Hidden in Makati, a city in Metro Manila, Cosmic is a vegan and vegetarian bistro serving up creative – and delicious – meat-free dishes influenced by global cuisines from Indian to Mexican and, of course, Filpino! For a local treat, try the vegan sisig (a popular Filipino dish usually made with parts of a pig’s head and chicken liver) topped with vegan bagnet (typically made from pork belly).

Little Seed Corner Shop – Quezon City

Known for its organic, accessible vegetarian and vegan breakfasts, snacks, lunches and grocery items, Little Seed Corner Shop is an excellent place to grab a quick bite or something to go.

 

 

SINGAPORE

Influenced by neighbouring Malaysia as well as nearby countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, India and China, a unique fusion of food cultures has combined to create Singapore’s Peranakan cuisine, which in turn has influenced the local vegan dining scene. As a major metropolis, vegan food is certainly available and easy to find in Singapore, making it a great vegan travel adventure destination to add to your bucket list.

DIETHELM RECOMMENDS

Whole Earth, 76 Peck Seah Street

Whole Earth is Singapore’s first and only plant-based restaurant to be awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand award for four consecutive years: 2016 – 2019. Using only the freshest ingredients, the restaurant consistently churns out delicious, plant-based versions of popular dishes like redang and nyonya curry.

Original Sin, Chip Bee Gardens

As the only vegetarian Mediterranean vegetarian restaurant in Singapore, Original Sin offers mouth-watering Mediterranean favourites – such as risotto, mezze platters, pizzas and more – all without meat. The friendly staff are also known for being highly knowledgeable and willing to meet even the strictest dietary requirements.

 

  

SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka is an island that has something for everyone, including historical sights, natural wonders, history…and an abundance of great-tasting vegan food! Whilst the term “vegan” isn’t widely used here, you will see many restaurants marked as “vegetarian” or “pure vegetarian.” Both are generally found in Tamil eateries and refer to serving only lacto-vegetarian food (which includes honey and dairy). Many of the dishes available will be completely vegan but you will need to ask to be sure of the ingredients. Around the rest of the country, the local diet is largely vegan-based as well.

DIETHELM RECOMMENDS

Bowl’d, Colombo

Bowl’d pushes the boundaries of healthy food for the local community substituting common ingredients, such as using the Sri Lankan natural honey known as kithul instead of refined sugar, and highlighting a plethora of fresh, local herbs and vegetables in their flavour-packed bowls. Sustainability is also a core value and the restaurant uses eco-friendly alternatives whenever possible, such as reusable bamboo straws, coconut shell bowls and more.

Theva Cuisine, Kandy

While the elegant dining venue at Theva Residency does prepare a variety of meat dishes, vegans and vegetarians will also find a range of hearty options for appetisers, starters and mains. The kitchen team is known for producing culinary delights fusing eastern and western flavours, classic recipes with new interpretations.

 

 

THAILAND

Vegan food is convenient to come by in Thailand, as many traditional dishes are easily made vegan and many of the Buddhist monks believe that refraining from eating meat purifies the body. This is called jay (เจ) food. If you tell a server that you “gin jay,” meaning that you eat vegan (jay) food, you can rest assured your dish will be vegan. Additionally, Thailand’s tropical fruits and fresh produce are incredible, so if you prefer to eat predominantly raw, it’s very doable and affordable too.

DIETHELM RECOMMENDS

Pun Pun, Chiang Mai

Pun Pun is a small organic farm and sustainable living centre located just outside of Chiang Mai with a restaurant situated on the grounds of the majestic Wat Suan Dok temple. The vegetarian and vegan versions of both popular Thai dishes and fusion eats feature the farm’s own produce and homemade ingredients.

May Veggie Home, Bangkok

May Veggie home has been serving 100% vegan cuisine in Bangkok since 2011, focusing on fresh, homemade meals including vegan bakery items and vegan ice cream. The restaurant also caters to those wanting Jain or gluten-free dishes.

 

  

VIETNAM

Popular destinations throughout Vietnam, like Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and Hanoi, are home to tonnes of tasty vegan dishes and meals. From traditional Vietnamese staples like banh mi and noodle dishes to foreign foods, such as hummus and udon, you’ll find an exciting variety of vegan foods of topped with tons of fresh herbs.

DIETHELM RECOMMENDS

Uu Dam Chay, Hanoi

While most of Hanoi enjoys devouring meaty dishes, the surprisingly stylish and well-designed Uu Dam Chay restaurant, spanning three storeys, serves only vegan and vegetarian pan-Asian cuisine, including a wide variety of Vietnamese dishes popular throughout the country. Along with a variety of a la carte options, you can also find hot pot to share and an extensive juice selection. Make sure to reserve a table in advance, especially during the mid-month and first day of the month according to the lunar calendar.

Bong Sung Vegetarian, Ho Chi Minh City

This lovely restaurant is hidden in a three-storey building and boasts a comprehensive vegetarian menu of Vietnamese specialities. Ranging from soups and curries to noodles and stir-fries, each dish is beautifully plated and tastes phenomenal. Along with the tasty meals, diners also enjoy quick and friendly service thanks to a staff that will make you feel right at home.