How to be vegan in Thailand

There seems to be a common misconception that it is incredibly difficult to be a vegan in Thailand, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve met friends who were vegetarian in their home country and converted back into eating meat out here because they couldn’t find anything to eat; this is CRAZY to me. If you’re struggling to be a vegan in Thailand you must be living under a rock, or walking around with your eyes closed- it is super easy!

Watch out for milk

Thai’s don’t really use milk in cooking, in fact if you see them using milk I can almost guarantee that it will be coconut milk- which is great for us, almost all Thai desserts are vegan WOOHOO! (I’ll talk about that more later). The thing you really need to watch out for are smoothies, which almost always contain some form of cream or milk so make sure you tell them you don’t want it. Alternative milks are quite literally everywhere in Thailand; Big C, Tesco Lotus, 7/11 you name it…just make sure you read the packaging as some soy milk does actually still contain milk (stupid I know). Most brands are safe just watch out for some lactosoy products.

Watch out for eggs

If you’re ordering a Pad Thai or Fried rice, chances are it will come with egg unless you tell them otherwise. Thai locals also love eating omelette and rice so watch out for that. Other wise you’re pretty much good to go.

Where can I buy vegan food?

You can buy vegan food pretty much anywhere in Thailand; all supermarkets will sell something suitable and most food stalls and restaurants should too if you know how to ask them. Check out an early post of mine on vegan food in 7/11 here!

Look out for the vegan symbol

In Chinese culture there is something called Jay. Jay is a religious diet many Chinese people live by and it is basically vegan with a few added restrictions (e.g. onions and garlic). As there is a huge Chinese population in Thailand there are Jay options and even Jay specific restaurants all across the country. Look out for the symbol below; Jay restaurants will have this yellow and red sign outside their door and it is really easy to recognise.

Speaking of Jay restaurants; they’re perhaps my favourite places in the entire world. Usually in the form of buffets, you can get an entire meal for around 40 Bht (approx 80p) and they’re absolutely delicious. Unfortunately for me they close around 1-2pm and run out of the best food way before then, check them out as early as possible to get the good stuff and pay 5bht to get a take away container. Check out google or happy cow to see if there are nay in your area.

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Vegan main dishes

There are so many dishes in Thailand that are either usually vegan or can be easily adapted, here’s a list of a few of them…

  • Pad Pak Bung/ Morning Glory Long green beans, water spinach, chilli and garlic in soy sauce
  • Pad Pak (Stir fried vegetables) 
  • Cow Pad Pak (vegetable fried rice) 
  • Pad Thai Thin noodles with bean sprouts, tofu and peanuts, usually comes with egg 
  • Pad See Ew flat noodles with vegetables and soy sauce
  • Dowhoo (tofu)
  • Som Tum Papaya salad; usually comes with prawns and fish sauce but can easily be made vegan
  • Spring Rolls 
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Pad Pak Bung/ Morning Glory
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Pad Pak
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Pad Thai

Vegan Desserts

As I said previously, Thai’s hardly use milk or eggs in their traditional desserts which is great news for us vegans with a sweet tooth. Here are some ideas on what you can eat…

  • Kanom Krok coconut milk desserts usually topped with sweetcorn or spring onion
  • Banana/ Durian/ Pumpkin in coconut milk
  • Sago with corn in coconut milk my personal favourite and can be found in 7/11. Thin green jelly worms, sweetcorn and coconut milk
  • Coconut pancakes
  • Pandan Jelly 
  • Mango with sticky rice
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Mango sticky rice
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7/11 Dessert
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Kanom Krok

Key phrases

  • Pad- Fried
  • Pak- Vegetable
  • Kanom– dessert
  • Mangsoweelat – Vegetarian
  • Jay- Vegan
  • Neua– Beef
  • Moo- Pork/ Pig
  • Gai- Chicken
  • Bplaa- Fish
  • Nahm Bplaa- Fish sauce
  • Kai- Egg
  • Gung- Prawns
  • Nohm- Milk
  • Nahm Puun- Honey

Is this vegetarian?

Magsoweelat mai? 

Is this vegan?

Gin jay mai?

I don’t want

Mai ow ______ (e.g. Mai ow gung – I don’t want shrimp)

Without

Mai sai _______ (e.g. Pad Thai mai sai kai- Pad Thai without egg)

Vegetarian Festival

Make sure you watch out for the annual Jay festival which takes place in October each year. The best places to experience the festival are Phuket, Chiang Mai and Bangkok who all feature their own vegan celebrations for a few days; work of warning, Phuket is not for the faint hearted or those who don’t enjoy seeing people mutilate themselves by stabbing swords between their cheeks. 7/11 and Family Mart do amazing vegan ready meals and mock meats during this period so make sure you check those out.

Top vegan restaurants Bangkok

  • May veggie home- Askoke BTS
  • Broccoli Revolution- Thong Lo BTS
  • Veganerie- Phrom Phong BTS
  • Ethos- Khao San Road
  • May Kaidee- Khao San Road 

Much love from wherever I am xx

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