Both Ant and myself arrived in Thailand last month and discovered the pros and cons of being a vegan in South East Asia. [spacer height=”20px”]
After Ant completed his adventure of two and a half weeks, mine continues. I have just extended my visa and have almost another month to enjoy around Thailand. I am predominantly based in Lanta and have been throughout my stay but I will hopefully get to venture to Chiang Mai and Malaysia during my time in the continent.
Our trip obviously began with some intense travelling, an experience that started so well with Emirates. It soon declined, we were left stranded in Dubai for half a day and when finally landing in Bangkok we were bemused to discover that our cases hadn’t followed us. We spent four days chasing down our suitcases. Apart from that, we had a brilliant time and I am still embracing my days out here. The beaches, culture and everything else about this country is beautiful, I am truly thankful to be able to enjoy so long out here.
But lets get to the food side of things, how have I coped as a vegan out in Thailand? It’s very mixed but I can help you avoid common mistakes and warn you from certain aspects of trying to order food as a vegan.
What are the advantages and what are the disadvantages for vegans that are travelling?
Being Vegan in Thailand- Pros
- Fresh Fruit– The abundance of fruit is outstanding, it really highlighted how deprived of good tasting fruit I have been in England. You can get watermelons, pineapple, dragon fruit and mangoes that are unbelievably tasty.
- Coconut Water– You can pay 30 Baht (around 75 pence) for a fresh coconut, stick a straw in it and you’re away. You can also finish it off with a spoon.
- Fresh Food– Much of their food is freshly prepared and you can taste how nutritious a lot of it is.
- Respect- Thai people are very respectful of your beliefs.
Plantbased in South East Asia- Cons
- Language Barrier– This is an obvious one; it can be difficult to directly translate the meaning of vegan.
- Fish Oil- Oyster sauce is very popular, the same way you often wonder why milk is in almost everything at home. Be sure to find spots that understand your request of ‘no oyster sauce’.
- Shrimp Paste- These sea animals continue to try and sneak onto our plates one way or another.
Our Thai Story started in Bangkok, we had one day there. Low on energy after our arrival we tried to get whatever vegan food we could find. It wasn’t all plain sailing, one of our first meals consisted of Vanilla Almond Milk, Rice and Medjool Dates. We were so concerned about keeping our calories up after a lack of them on the way that taste and combinations meant nothing to us on that day. It wasn’t until we left that we found out that places such as Brocolli Revolution existed.
When getting to Koh Lanta, we found a number of places suitable to eat and quickly worked out who could understand our requests.
Useful Vegan Thai Phrases
Gin Jay- Vegetarian. It means strict vegetarian which means you cannot have egg or fish. The only problem is not everyone seems to understand this, maybe it’s my pronunciation.
Pak- This is my backup if they don’t understand Gin Jay, but you have to beware that they may add egg and fish oil. So I usually request my meal as ‘Pak’ and then emphasise that I do not want Oyster Sauce or egg. This works fine and I usually try my hardest to order something that is unlikely to feature oyster sauce in the first place but it is still good to be safe.
We managed to dig out some hidden gems in Lanta, with Pure, Catfish and other restaurants. I have enjoyed falafel wraps, smoothie bowls, protein smoothies, vegetable pad thai, vegan coconut curry and much more. A useful way to find vegetarian or vegan options in an unfamiliar area is to use the website Happy Cow.
There’s an array of flavoursome food for you to indulge, so you don’t need to panic. I have more trust in the food out here than at home with quality fruit and vegetables. Keep a look out for Thai Story 2, as I give you an in-depth analysis of the different cuisine out here. Find out where I have ate at and how they compare.[spacer height=”20px”]