Vegan and Vegetarian Food in Thailand

May 1, 2009

Pad Thai and Coconut Sticky Rice, from the cooking class

Pad Thai and Coconut Sticky Rice, from the cooking class

How do you find good vegan food in Thailand? Bill journeyed across the ancient kingdom, met a vegan tour organiser, and tasted lots of good food. This included some unusual flavours of soy ice cream.

Audio Download internet radio report (4 mins 59 secs): Travelling and Eating Vegan in Southeast Asia: Thailand (MP3 4.54MB) (other sound file formats)

There is the first of three reports from Bill’s travels. Please follow these podcasts and blogs for the other two; or enjoy an episode of The Vegan Option about this Southeast Asian trip.

Bill on Thailand

This anonymous TripAdvisor page was a useful source of important Thai phrases for vegetarians. Whoever wrote it, thank you. Cristen Andrew’s Circle Our Earth now have a useful vocab guide too. The UK Vegan Society’s Vegan Passport (Google books page) has written definitions of vegan in many languages, including Thai. It often elicits a “Yes, I understand. Vegetarian”, but it does help get the message over. And in Thailand less dairy is used in cooking, so the practical difference between vegetarian and vegan is smaller and the mistake is perhaps easier to make.

Happy Cow was invaluable in finding those many vegetarian restaurants I went to.

Restaurants offering vegetarian cooking classes include Taste from Heaven in Chiang Mai, and May Kaidee in both Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Many other restaurants will offer classes if you ask, but check whether you will get a cookbook or need to invite fellow travellers along to help you eat your cooking!

You can see the Thai symbols for “Jay” (Chinese vegetarian, which will have its own podcast soon) as either Chanchao’s photograph of a Jay restaurant sign or in the text of the HappyCow notes page for Thailand.

Blue Diamond is the restaurant with all the soy ice cream, including many flavours that did not get a mention.

Thank you to Nan at Taste of Heaven restaurant, Izzy, and the Elephant Nature Park mahouts for your contributions.

If you enjoyed this podcast, you can easily subscribe to future Verdant Reports podcasts here.

The podcast did not have time to mention:

Many tourist maps (including the official Bangkok map) usefully include vegetarian restaurants, although the Bangkok map is both less complete and more vague than vegetarian restaurant site Happy Cow.

Vegan Underground have also been to Southeast Asia, and blogged about their food and travel in the region.

I recommend the Elephant Nature Park as a place to go and spend time looking after elephants. It lets elephants express their natural behaviour instead of making them perform tricks and give rides. The meals are omnivorous with around half the dishes vegan. The founder Lek Chailert is a very supportive vegan who made sure I was well fed! Elephant Nature Park had a difficult start, and mainstream media such as Time Magazine have told this story of cruelty and sanctuary already.

(Edited May 5 to include the Vegan Underground and Jay symbol links.)

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4 Responses to “Vegan and Vegetarian Food in Thailand”

  1. Amy P. Says:

    Excellent article! I’ve linked this blog post to a post I wrote on eating vegetarian in Thailand. This will be a great asset for my readers. Thank you.

  2. Sigit Arinto Says:

    Nice article and really opened up my eyes for the vegetarian world. I am not a vegan though :)


  3. Very informative and useful article! I’ll include a link to this in my related pages. Thanks!

  4. almostveganinparadise Says:

    Hi Bill,

    Very informative report; lots of excellent info for anyone that hasn’t yet been to Thailand.

    I went to May Kaidee’s cooking class in Chiang Mai and can highly recommend it. I have details and mouth-watering photos on my blog.

    And I must agree, that anyone who can afford to, go spend time at the Elephant Nature Park. Lek, the staff and volunteers do a fabulous job, and feeding, scrubbing, observing, mingling with the elephants was a highlight of my trip to Chiang Mai.

    Photos and details of my stay there are also available at my blog:
    http://almostveganinparadise.wordpress.com

    Here’s to more delicious travels!
    Aloha,
    Alina


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