10 of the Most Vegan-Friendly Places in Asia
For vegans travelling around Asia the food opportunities are deliciously limitless – think veggie pad Thai, ginger garlic noodles and tofu soup. However, you’re also likely to run into hidden nasties like fish sauce and ghee and, when you don't speak the language, it can be tough to spot these ingredients. That's where our guide to the most vegan-friendly cities in Asia comes in. It will help you dodge any dairy or meat dishes while on holiday, so you can easily find safe food without worry:
Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Penang might just be Malaysia's top foodie destination and, thankfully, in this instance, vegans will feel right at home here. The island has over 100 vegan-friendly eateries and its capital Georgetown is bursting with options. The city's fully vegan Buddhist-Chinese restaurants are a great choice, but if you’re after something a bit more specialist you can grab a plate of faux fish from Ee Beng. Lily’s Vegetarian Kitchen serves up a mixture of traditional Malaysian food as well as some more Western-style dishes, everything from chicken nuggets to laksa and, while we're on the subject, it's imperative to mention Luk Yea Yan, which serves up some of the best laksa in the world – vegan or otherwise.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Khanom khrok is a traditional Thai street food pancake, made with rice flour and coconut milk. Luckily, it just happens to be vegan too. And if that's not enough to entice you to Thailand don’t worry, there's plenty more to offer your stomach. If you’re feeling particularly hungry, both Happy Green and the Chiang Mai Vegetarian Society offer entirely vegan all-you-can-eat buffets so you can fill up on traditional dishes. Punpun is a sustainable living centre that serves up vegan versions of tradition Thai food which you may not find elsewhere, including the nam hed song kreung, a fermented meatless sausage made with mushroom. If dessert is more your thing, head to Free Bird Café in Maneenoparat Road for delicious dairy-free cheesecake, while Taste From Heaven offers a delightful vegan brownie.
The city is full of vegan-friendly eateries and one of your first stops should be May Veggie Home, which cooks up meatless bacon and fried ‘fish’, as well as more traditional dishes like pad Thai and Panang curry. You can even round off your meal with vegan ice cream or something from the in-house bakery. If you like baked goods, then Veganerie at the Mercury Ville mall has you covered; indulge in a full range of items, including strawberry cheesecakes and waffles. Bangkok even caters for raw foodists, serving up a courgette Thai pasta and a raw tiramisu from detox café Rasayana.
South Indian cuisine is full of vegetarian dishes and, if you’re able to make substitutions and ditch the dairy, you’ll find you’re able to eat a lot in Chennai. That being said, there's plenty on offer specifically for vegans too. Try Dario’s, an Italian-style restaurant where you can order yourself a vegan pizza or pasta dish. Cream Centre offers up mind-blowing traditional Indian food, not to mention vegan dessert options.
Taipei is one of the most vegan cities in Asia with almost 10% of the population not eating meat. As a result, it is home to around 6,000 veggie establishments, with restaurants here serving up a mix of traditional Taiwanese and more western-influenced cuisine. Hidden gem About Animals serves up vegan burgers with wasabi mayo, alongside veggie alternatives to hot dogs and bacon sandwiches, while Vegan Heaven delivers on all you cake needs. For self catering, visit the all-vegan supermarket iVegan or try Keelung Night Market, which offers some great options.
Vegan dining in Hong Kong has increased dramatically in recent years. Loving Hut is one of the many all-vegan restaurants in the city, with dairy-free cheesecakes and sweet egg tarts available alongside the somewhat bizarre vegan cheese and fried egg sandwich. LN Fortunate Coffee serves vegan waffles and spaghetti meatballs, while Pure Veggie House is all about the vegan dim sum, as well as a traditional shark fin soup alternative.
Singapore boasts a long list of veg-friendly restaurants. Right at the top of that list is VeganBurg, a haven for swoon-worthy vegan burgers, delicious seasoned fries and fancy iced teas; it looks and feels like any other gourmet burger place just with the added bonus that everything on the menu is vegan. If you’re not as much of a burger fan as me, or if you're just after something a bit more traditional, try something from Loving Hut or Vege Café. Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant, Singapore’s only Peranakan-Thai whole-earth veggie restaurant, dishes up buah keluak and divine clay pot curries.
One thing Shanghai restaurants seem to have in common is their vast array of convincing and delicious fake meats. D’lish is a purely takeaway experience where you can grab a tempeh noodle bowl to go, or you can head to Green Vege Café for western-inspired food, with everything from burgers to meat-free chicken nuggets. Lucky Zen & Veg Restaurant can provide vegan versions of Peking duck, clay pot tofu and crispy spring rolls.
Indonesia is the birthplace of vegan meat alternative 'tempeh' so the rise in meat-free eating in Bali comes as no surprise. 9 Warung in Ubud is one of the best places to head if you’re after traditional meat-free Indonesian food, while The Seeds of Life Café dishes up hearty and healthy vegan food with an abundance of raw options. KAFE is a bit less health conscious but no less tasty, with vegan burgers and ice cream. Be sure to try Sari Organik, where you can grab a delicious crepe with soy ricotta cheese, alongside a raw Thai soup.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Diners in Ho Chi Minh can expect an extensive vegan menu from Loving Hut, as well as the opportunity to pick up some pre-packaged vegan meats and cheeses to enjoy later in the trip. Kay Vegan Bistro serves up delicious tempeh, Vietnamese pho noodle soup and wholesome desserts made from red beans and mangos. A lot of restaurants offer meat substitutes like tofu and seitan, including the all-vegan Thanh Tinh and the not-so-vegan Ngoc To, which serves roast ‘pork’ and spring rolls alongside a selection of Mexican-inspired dishes. Those in search of a decent vegan egg should stop in at Sen Quan Chay.