Being vegan in Thailand

SO.

I’m not gonna lie…when the opportunity to travel to Thailand came up, I did not hesitate. Not because I wanted to see the temples or found an interest in buddhism. Not because of the cheap fares and such. But because of..yeah you guessed it…the FOOD.

Thai food has always been my FAVORITE! Beginning in my non vegan days. It’s just bursting with flavor and I love that everything can be so spicy. It’s literally always been my happy place. So yes, I wanted the REAL thing!

Let me start by saying that travelling to thailand is very inexspensive. The most I paid for was my flight. Once I got there, the most I spent money on was a Korean facial which cost me around $16. Yup. That was “A LOT.”

So here is my experience:

Most of my meals cost between $1-$6. The more expensive places ($6ish and up range) were usually hotel food meals and fancier restaurants. On average, I spent less than $10 a day on FOOD! How amazing is THAT?

Here’s the thing. Some places have tofu, others do not. I found myself self creating vegan meals but they were the regular menu meals just without the protein. I did lose a lot of weight because of this. But majority of the time, I got to eat wherever and could modify. During my trip, I had lots of pad thai, french fries and veggie rice dishes. And of course mango sticky rice.

*I travelled with a friend who spoke the language almost fluently. Also, while on the plane, I learned some basic thai to help me get started. I highly recommend learning basic phrases when travelling as a vegan to a different country. Because of these 2 factors, I was able to communicate enough to let it be known that I am animal free!

Well, the first thing I ordered was room service pad see ew at our hotel (Majestic Grande Hotel). It was about 5am Bangkok time and I was awake and hungry. It was so so good!! 

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Room service pad see ew, modified of course. 

Bangkok:

Let me start by saying that Thai’s are very very friendly. They are happy to make the food as you request if possible. Just know common words. I will put them below.

LOT’S of street food is available. As well as fruits and fruit juices. Also…a lot of meat, fish sauce and eggs. It’s everywhere. Most of the time, I spoke some thai to say ‘no meat, no fish or fish sauce, etc.” I was taken care of but left with meals without protein. I became super grateful for everything.

IMG_1028.JPGstreet food, veganized.

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found outside of our hotel in busy Bangkok was a outdoor food mall. There are plenty of these.

Pattya:

This was my least favorite city to visit.It was more depressing than enjoyable. It was definitely difficult being vegan here! This area is kinda like a mixture between skid row and vegas. Think the Southeast asian version of that just with a beach.

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We started our day off getting on a super cool boat taxi to the next island! We went to the first restaurant we found as we were so so hungry. It had a cute view overlooking the ocean in an indoor-outdoor setup. The only thing I could eat on the menu was…nothing. I simply then just asked for veggie fried rice, reiteratting the no fish sauce, no eggs, etc. Very boring meal haha! Most of the menu was pork. I didn’t know they ate pork like that!

I also got a pappya salad, with no fish sauce. Yup, they put fish sauce in like everything…thai’s are all about their flavor! I’m not mad at it..I understand it..but doesn’t mean I’m not gonna still treat my body with honor and respect no matter where I go πŸ™‚

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Let me tell you…this was the first pappya salad I have had in my entire life. It is SOO good!

So flavorful, so fresh, spicy, crunchy, juicy. I would’ve never thought to order this here in the States.

While on the Island, I also got a fresh fruit smoothie/juice. It had apples, dragonfruit, and some other yummy things. Was very refreshing and they make it there right in front of you. You have different combinations to choose from!

Finding dinner was the real problem. After scoping out a few places, we found a very unique type restaurant. There was a large kitchen kinda in a motor home and then the restaraunt part was just under a large shed shaped thing. They also had tables on a dirt area and served people there as well. It was super interesting and looked like a really cool place to eat. A true southeast asian experience!

Well, we got a few things. Including french fries of course. Once again I had to veganize all of my items. The tofu and veggie item made me sick halfway through eating it. Like I didn’t feel well at all! Definitely maybe some fish sauce of some sorts up in there! Once again…disappointed and hungry. The next day, I stuck to eating food at the hotel (which is VERY expensive by the way and actually not that good!) and played it safe.

 Chiang Mai:

THE BEST PLACE FOR A VEGAN IN THAILAND!

We stayed in the Duangtawan Hotel. Literally a short walk away, there were vegan and vegetarian restaraunts. I’d never been so happy to see a plate of spaghetti! We went to a veggie place who’s focus was on nutrition~ so all the meals there were pretty much good for you! We also had kombucha, sushi and raw vegan cheesecake.

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The vegan places are more expensive for sure but totally worth it for good, healthy food. We also found a place that serves vegan burgers, fries, and other delicious vg junkfoods! There was a nice juice bar, too.

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But if you’re in thailand, you should definitely try to get actual thai food when possible. We went to a food night market on a Sunday night. Everyone (but mostly tourists) in the town comes out it seems. There was a lady there with a big wok making vegetarian pad thai. You could choose eggs or no eggs since she made it to order. It was so delicious! But be careful…I tried grabbing extra paper chopsticks for my friend to share (as we normally would do in the States) and the “chef” and her friend freaked out on me and said my pad thai only came with ONE pair of utensils. HAHA.

I also got a delicious, deep fried eggroll stuffed with veggies. As well as some fresh squeezed orange juice over ice. Best I’ve EVER had!! Man, did I eat so so good in Chiang Mai. This was also my favorite city. Between the elephants, the night markets, and the people (people here are so amazing), I truly enjoyed my stay. I also remember one night after the Sunday market (there’s one on Saturday too. Yes it’s awesome.), as the crowd was clearing out, I found a henna artist and got a tattoo in the city on a blanket placed on the ground. I spoke Thai so well, the girl thought I was fluent! Started speaking to me like a Thai. I’m like noooo. hahaha. A moment I’ll never forget. So beautiful.

The energy this night >

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The only “bad” thing that happened was when we very first got to Chiang Mai. We went to the most famous/popular restauraunt in the city (the country part of the “city”) as we were told. One thing I love about the popular restaurants in Thailand: it is truly about the food. You won’t find anything fancy up in here. It’s an open air place filled with colors and people dressed super casual.

Anyways…they all said I HAD to try the dish that Northern Thailand is known for. Khao Soi. The people I was with (who spoke almost fluent Thai) ordered for me to make it vegan and I was told it would be made possible! It was very good at first then I started having a feeling that “something” wasn’t right. Needless to say, I felt nauseas and extremely sick within the next few hours. I remember even saying “Look. I NEED to find vegan food. All these substitutions are not okay and I gotta stop doing this to my body!” Lol yup, by that point I was so tired of trying to make it all work and was fed up. Hence my excitement when I finally found food that was already vegan!!!

Also, I took a wonderful cooking class in this city. The class was provided for a group of 8. I was the only vegan and I got to make all of the dishes veganized! It consisted of mostly not adding fish sauce, meats and eggs to my dishes like everyone else. Was a super fun and enjoyable experience. I am so happy I got to learn thai staples without the animals. Before the class, we got to go to a local market as a group. Our instructor showed us different veggies and spices and what they are used for. Such a great experience!

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Only part of the vegan meal I made in class. 

Summary:

It won’t be the easiest thing in the world, but you will have some options. Be prepared for lots of modifications.

  • Being vegan in Thailand is called “jay.”
  • *Learn basic keywords:

“Hello” Sa-wat dee 

“Thank you” = Korp Kun Kah (for women) Korp kun kop (for men)

Vegan = “Jay”

“I” = Chun

“Yes” = Chai

“No” Mai or My

“Don’t want” = My ow

“I am vegan” = Chun gin jay

“No fish” = My ow bplah

“No fish sauce” = my ow na bplah 

“No chicken” = my ow gy

“No egg” = My ow ky

“Rice” – Khao

  • Street food is super cheap and they are willing to help you if they can.
  • Stay away from Khao Soi. I do NOT think this can be made vegan and you will not feel well!
  • Some restaurants require you to take your shoes off at the door. I absolutely love this.
  •   Most of the time they will truly NOT know what you’re talking about. You must say you are vegan.
  • They cook a lot of meat on the street. The smell can be very overwhelming for us vegans and it’s disgusting walking by having animal flesh smoke brush across you every second! (literally every second)  πŸ˜¦ You will make it through. I believe in you.
  • There’s lots of fruit everywhere. This didn’t really work in my favor since I’m more of a berries and apples kinda of girl. Thailand is more of a (insert fruits I don’t like here___) kinda country. So if you like fruits other than my faves,  you will be good!
  • *If all else fails, JUST ORDER FRENCH FRIES! (They’re everywhere!)

Well, that was MY experience! Hope it helped and gave you a good idea of what to expect! Thai people are just so lovely. This being my first time out of the country, I grew a lot. More than ever, I am just grateful for life itself.

Please click the “travel” tab to see more photos. Video of my trip is coming  soon! Months later. Yup, this is what happens when you are a person like me with multiple different passions you’re pursuing. HAHA Things take time! xoxo

Joi

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Questions or comments? Let me know below!

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