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Vegetarian and Vegan Travel Guide in Thailand

Vegetarian and Vegan Travel Guide in Thailand: Culinary Adventures and Tips (2024)

Are you a vegetarian or vegan in Thailand? Or are your food preferences keeping you from planning a trip to Thailand? Worry not; we have got you all sorted.

Thailand is a land of landscapes and culture, but beyond that, this country impresses with its delightful world of flavours. The globally renowned Thai cuisine is full of aromatic spices and vibrant tastes and thus for a long has been a part of tourism attraction. The traditional Thai dishes burst with the essence of lemongrass, chilli, and coconut and thus offer a combination of sensations on the palate. You might be surprised to learn that amid this gastronomic adventure, Thailand generously caters to those with vegetarian or vegan preferences. Yes, you read it right: amidst the sizzling pans and fragrant markets, there exists a culinary haven for herbivores. And it isn’t just about Pad Thai but a treasure trove of meat-free and plant-based delights.

Vegetarian and Vegan Travel Guide in Thailand

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Join us in this article as we unfold ‘MUST-KNOW’ advice for all vegetarian and vegan travellers in Thailand. The article will further navigate you through unique aromatic realms of Thai cuisine, including vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. From bustling street markets to tucked-away restaurants, we will mention them all.

Advice for Vegetarians and Vegans travelling in Thailand

  • If you are an international visitor, before you reach Thailand, familiarize yourself with basic Thai phrases. Especially learn phrases/ words related to vegetarianism and veganism including “Mai sai neua sat” (no meat) or “Mai sai kai” (no eggs). These small details are very helpful when communicating dietary preferences in Thailand since not every local may know or understand English.
  • If you fail to find vegetarian food anywhere around, search the nearest Buddhist restaurants. The Buddhist restaurants in Thailand often serve vegetarian and vegan dishes since the religion adheres to vegetarian practices. To easily find such restaurants, either search on Google or look for places with a sign that says “J” (Jay) or “เจ” in Thai, indicating vegetarian food. You can also use these phrases to ask for meat-free food in Thailand in any restaurant or at street vendors.
  • Thai markets offer a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and tofu; thus, when with no option, try them.
  • It is easy to find delicious and affordable snacks at street stalls, and some of the common options include Pad Thai (stir fry noodles), Vegetable stir-fries, and Som Tum (papaya salad). However, when trying Pad Thai, ask for no eggs or fish sauce.
  • Whenever dining in restaurants, it’s a good idea to ask about ingredients. Since most of the dishes in Thailand may contain fish sauce, oyster sauce, or shrimp paste, communicate your dietary preferences to enjoy an entirely plant-based.
  • Use HappyCow or a similar mobile application to find vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants around you. These apps often include reviews and ratings, making the search easier and more precise as per your preferences.
  • If you are booking accommodations, consider places that offer kitchen facilities and have easy access to your dietary preferences. You can easily find local ingredients to cater for your vegan and vegetarian choices.
  • Thai cuisine offers a vast array of vegetarian and vegan options, and thus, be open to trying new dishes and experimenting with local flavours.
  • Always carry some snacks with you, such as fresh fruit, nuts, or energy bars. Especially if you are visiting an area with limited vegetarian options, pack some handy dry snacks from your nation.
  • Try connecting with locals or fellow travellers to get recommendations for vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants.
  • Learn Thai number symbols, as many street food vendors may not speak English and knowing the numbers will help you communicate portion sizes or quantities.
  • Local markets and street food stalls are abundant in Thailand, especially the ones preparing fresh dishes. Reach out to them when in a scarcity of vegetarian options.
  • In Thai cuisine, even seemingly vegetarian dishes may use meat-based broth; thus, when ordering (even soups or noodle dishes), inquire about the broth’s base and whether they have a vegetable available.
  • Pack a reusable utensil set if you are very precise about not even eating in the same plates or bowls that serve non-vegetarians.
  • Learn Thai Script for vegetarian/vegan, including “vegetarian” (เจ) and “vegan”. These signs can be helpful when reading menus or signs in more local or rural areas.
  • Thai culture places a strong emphasis on respect; thus, when communicating your dietary preferences, do so politely. Avoid making faces to non-vegetarian food, even if you find them extremely weird.
  • Thailand is known for its delicious and exotic fruits; thus, take advantage of the abundant fruit stands and enjoy snacks like mangoes, pineapples, and dragon fruit.
  • The weather in Thailand can be hot and humid; thus, even if you fall short of food, make sure you stay hydrated. There is plenty of Coconut water available around.

Common and Helpful Phrases

  • English: Vegetarian

Thai: เจ (Jay)

  • English: Vegan

Thai: มังสวิรัติ (Mangsavirat)

  • English: No meat

Thai: ไม่ใส่เนื้อ (Mai sai neua)

  • English: No fish sauce

Thai: ไม่ใส่น้ำปลา (Mai sai nam pla)

  • English: No eggs

Thai: ไม่ใส่ไข่ (Mai sai kai)

  • English: Is this vegetarian?

Thai: อาหารนี้เป็นเจไหม? (Ahaan ni pen Jay mai?)

  • English: Is this vegan?

Thai: อาหารนี้เป็นมังสวิรัติไหม? (Ahaan ni pen Mangsavirat mai?)

  • English: I am vegetarian.

Thai: ฉันเป็นเจ (Chan pen Jay)

  • English: I am vegan.

Thai: ฉันเป็นมังสวิรัติ (Chan pen Mangsavirat)

  • English: No seafood

Thai: ไม่ใส่อาหารทะเล (Mai sai ahaan talay)

  • English: Spicy

Thai: พริก (Phrik)

  • English: Mild

Thai: ไม่เผ็ด (Mai phet)

  • English: Sweet

Thai: หวาน (Waan)

  • English: Sour

Thai: เปรี้ยว (Bprio)

  • English: Salty

Thai: เค็ม (Khem)

  • English: Delicious

Thai: อร่อย (Aroi)

  • English: Thank you for the meal.

Thai: ขอบคุณสำหรับอาหาร (Khop khun sam-rap ahaan)

Vegetarian and Vegan Food in Thailand

Thailand offers a variety of delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes that showcase the country’s rich culinary traditions. Here are some popular vegetarian and vegan food options you can enjoy in Thailand:

  • Pad Thai (ผัดไทย): A famous Thai stir-fried noodle dish that typically includes rice noodles, tofu or vegetables, bean sprouts, peanuts, lime, and sometimes egg (you can request it without egg).
  • Som Tum (ส้มตำ): Also known as green papaya salad, Som Tum is a refreshing and spicy salad made with shredded unripe papaya, tomatoes, green beans, peanuts, and chilli.
  • Tom Yum Hed (ต้มยำเห็ด): This is a vegetarian version of the popular Tom Yum soup, made with mushrooms instead of meat. It is a spicy and sour soup flavoured with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal.
  • Pad See Ew (ผัดซีอิ๊ว): A stir-fried noodle dish featuring wide rice noodles, soy sauce, tofu or vegetables, and sometimes broccoli or Chinese broccoli.
  • Khao Pad (ข้าวผัด): Thai fried rice, typically made with jasmine rice, vegetables, tofu, and various seasonings. You can customize it to suit your taste preferences.
  • Gai Pad Med Mamuang Himmapan (ไก่ผัดเม็ดมะม่วงหิมพานต์): Cashew nut stir-fry with tofu or vegetables, usually seasoned with soy sauce, garlic, and chilli.
  • Massaman Curry (แกงมัสมั่น): A flavorful and mild curry with potatoes, peanuts, and tofu or vegetables featuring a rich blend of spices and coconut milk.
  • Geng Kheaw Wan (แกงเขียวหวาน): Green curry made with coconut milk, green chillies, basil, and a variety of vegetables or tofu.
  • Khao Soi (ข้าวซอย): A northern Thai noodle soup with a coconut milk base featuring yellow noodles, tofu, and a flavorful curry broth, topped with crispy noodles.
  • Tofu Satay (สะเต๊ะเต่าหลาม): Grilled or skewered tofu served with a delicious peanut sauce. It’s a popular appetizer or snack.
  • Jungle Curry (แกงป่า): A spicy and hearty curry made with an assortment of vegetables, herbs, and sometimes tofu or mushrooms.
  • Stir-Fried Morning Glory (ผัดผักบุ้ง): Morning glory, a leafy green vegetable, stir-fried with garlic, chilli, and soy sauce.
  • Kao Tom Mud (ข้าวต้มมัด): Banana leaf-wrapped parcels filled with seasoned sticky rice and various fillings such as beans, peanuts, or sweet coconut.
  • Kao Niew Mamuang (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง): Sticky rice with ripe mango slices, topped with sweet coconut milk.

Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Thailand

Broccoli Revolution (Bangkok):

Located in the heart of Bangkok, Broccoli Revolution is a trendy and vibrant spot for the vegan lifestyle. The restaurant serves a diverse menu of plant-based delights in a cosy atmosphere. Their menu features a signature Broccoli Quinoa Burger to flavorful Thai-inspired dishes like Green Curry Tofu and much more. The local flavours with global vegan innovation here are truly worth trying.

May Veggie Home (Chiang Mai):

Nestled in the charming city of Chiang Mai, May Veggie Home is a renowned vegetarian and vegan restaurant offering a mix of Thai and international dishes. From the aromatic Massaman Curry to the delectable Vegan Chocolate Cake, May Veggie Home caters to diverse palates while maintaining a cosy, welcoming ambience.

Govinda (Phuket):

Govinda, located in the vibrant town of Phuket, is a vegetarian and vegan haven specializing in Indian cuisine. Their menu includes options like savoury samosas, creamy coconut-based curries and more. It is easy to find a lot of flavorful vegan options, ideally inspired by Indian cuisine. The serene atmosphere and warm hospitality make Govinda a popular choice for vegan and vegetarian food in Thailand.

Rasayana Retreat (Bangkok):

In the bustling city of Bangkok, Rasayana Retreat is a holistic haven offering raw vegan cuisine. Their menu includes all sorts of flavorful Thai dishes, from Green Papaya Pad Thai to Raw Lasagna. It is a go-to spot for those seeking a refreshing and healthy dining experience.

Amrita Garden (Chiang Mai):

Tucked away in the artistic city of Chiang Mai, Amrita Garden is a cosy vegetarian and vegan restaurant serving up a mix of Thai and international flavours. From authentic Indian flavours to the comforting Pumpkin Coconut Soup and flavorful Vegan Pad Krapow, Amrita Garden has it all.

Atsumi Raw Café (Koh Phangan):

On the serene island of Koh Phangan, Atsumi Raw Café stands out as a raw and vegan culinary gem. Indulge in dishes like the Rainbow Nori Rolls or the Mango Tango Smoothie Bowl, all crafted with a dedication to raw, nutrient-rich ingredients. What adds to the overall dining experience is the beachside location.

Evason Hua Hin – Kieng Sah (Hua Hin):

Situated in the coastal town of Hua Hin, Kieng Sah at Evason Hua Hin offers a refined vegetarian dining experience. The restaurant is popular for its elegant setting and gourmet cuisine. Some of the must-try dishes here include Truffle-infused Mushroom Risotto and Quinoa Salad.

Veganerie (Bangkok):

Located in the heart of Bangkok, Veganerie is popular, offering vegan food options in Thailand. Their extensive menu includes everything from Vegan Quiche and Spinach and Mushroom Crepes to fluffy pancakes and decadent chocolate cake.

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