Travelling as a vegetarian/vegan in Thailand was very easy. Although it took a little bit more effort (language barrier), it was definitely not impossible. We found that Thai people were very accommodating to our vegetarian/vegan requests.
Here are our tops tips:
1. Street Side Smoothies
You can find fruit smoothies at probably every street corner. Almost all smoothies are vegetarian and can be easily made vegan – just ask for no milk. The fruits are incredible and let me just say, I would do anything right now to have one more mango smoothie. Mango season from April until June, coincidentally when we were there.
2. Beware of Fish Sauce
Fish sauce is found in most authentic Thai dishes, this is where some problems may arise. If you will be ordering street food, it may be hard to get a dish without fish. One way to get around this is to ask for a substitute of soy sauce on your stir fry. However, if you are okay with consuming a little bit of fish sauce, then the amount put in the dishes is very very little and taste-wise undetectable.
If you’re ordering street food, also keep in mind that there will be cross contamination. For example, the person before you orders a chicken Pad Thai, then you go on to order a vegetable Pad Thai. Although yours is vegetarian/vegan it was still cooked in the same pan as the previous customer’s. Even though some street vendors may claim to have vegetarian/vegan options. If you truly want a vegetarian meal, we would consider visiting an all vegan restaurant. Use the “Happy Cow” app or even a simple google search to find vegetarian options in the area.
3. Learn how to say “vegetarian” in Thai
Mangsawirat (pronounced like “mung saw wee rat” with emphasis on the first syllable). But also learn the word “JAE”, as it translates to Buddhist vegan food and it is safe to eat anything that displays this word.
4. Street Food Vendors offer so many options
Although many night market vendors display signs that claim to offer vegetarian dishes, however be cautious and pay attention to the ingredients, as some claims may be false.
So here are some options we found that were always vegetarian and/or vegan:
- Corn (you could never go wrong with corn)
- Mango sticky rice (a broads favourite)
- Vegetable rice paper rolls (SO GOOD)
- Vegetable spring rolls (certain sauces may contain fish)
- Vegetarian Gyozo (a type of dumpling)
- Coconut Ice Cream (These were all around Thailand)
- Thai Pancakes (*contain egg)
5. You can order Thai dishes anywhere
There are many humble and small restaurants in Thailand that offer much more variety and usually cater better for vegetarians and vegans.
Bodega Hostels were very accommodating to our vegetarian/vegan requests. We would definitely recommend checking out their kitchen as their menu was affordable and authentic to Thai cuisine.
See *Some of Our Favourite Dishes* at the bottom of the page
6. 7-11 Heaven
There is a 7-11 on almost every street corner. You’ll find an array of snacks, alcohol, coffee and even ready made “meals”.
They offer many vegetarian and vegan options here like:
- soy drinks
- coconut-based ice cream bars
- Chinese stuffed bun (Jumbo Big Pao Vegetarian – ask for it heated up)
- cheese toasties (a broad favourite – don’t forget to ask for it toasted!)
- peanuts and bean snacks
- dried fruit
- coconut water
*TIP* Look out for this symbol
7. Do not be afraid to ask/communicate.
Thais are very kind, there have been times where communication was hard due to the language barrier. However, there have also been times where the food vendor or chef was super accommodating and easily whipped up a fresh vegetarian meal for us. We visited mostly touristy cities so requesting a vegan/vegetarian meal in a more rural town may be more difficult.
Some of Our Favourite Dishes
(Don’t be afraid to ask for added tofu in the dish)
Thai Curry (Green and Massaman were our favourites!)
Vegetable Fried Rice
Stir Fried Thick Noodles
Sweet n Sour Tofu
Curry Fried Rice
Pineapple Vegetable Rice
Pad Thai (without Fish sauce)