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Vegan might be tough, vegetarian not so hard. Tofu is everywhere, but you may have difficulties getting anything other than vegetables and tofu.

There are some vegetarian restaurants --not loads but enough.

Health food stores, there are none outside major tourist destinations or Bangkok.

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walk to any restaurant/eatery and order what you want.

my favourite thai dish is vegetarian - pat pa ruam meet, fried vegetables. I can it it all the time, any time - each kitchen makes it slightly different, with different vegetables, oyster sause and totio (fermented soya nuts).

you can tell them what vegetables you like/don't like to be used.

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walk to any restaurant/eatery and order what you want.

my favourite thai dish is vegetarian - pat pa ruam meet, fried vegetables. I can it it all the time, any time - each kitchen makes it slightly different, with different vegetables, oyster sauce and totio (fermented soya nuts).

you can tell them what vegetables you like/don't like to be used.

Hence the problem vegetarians/vegans face ...

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Part of it depends on where you live.

I've lived in Thailand for almost 3 years, and have continued to maintain a vegetarian diet. When I first moved here, I lived in Phuket and there to be honest I found my diet to be quite restrictive because the local cuisine consists of a lot of fish.

Also, when I first moved to Thailand I didn't speak any Thai, and found it a little difficult to order Thai food, also because I didn't have much knowledge about what Thai food was (Gaeng Kiaow Wan, Phat Thai, Pad Siew were my staple dishes when I first arrived). So it forced me to get good at speaking in Thai about food, which led to me enjoying learning the language.

After a year I moved to Chiang Mai - I find this city to be a vegetarian paradise, and have no problems eating here. Part of the time I cook for myself at home and part of the time I eat out - there are well over 20 vegetarian restaurants in this city so have no problems. Bangkok also has a number of vegetarian places to eat at too, although obviously more spread out than Chiang Mai.

Generally being a vegan is no more difficult than being a vegetarian since milk and milk products don't naturally make their way into Thai cooking. It's simple enough to ask for things without eggs (mai sai khai). Regarding fish sauce and oyster sauce, if you're in a non-vegetarian establishment you can never guarantee that your food will be 100% vegetarian, all you can do is ask them not to use it and hope that they will respect your wishes.

Of course, being a vegetarian/vegan it's always better to eat at vegetarian/vegan places simply because you'll have much more choice (and more delicious food).

I never get stuck for eating anything though, except occasionally late at night occasionally if my friends are having noodles (in which case I might order noodles and vegetables without the stock sauce - guay tiaow phak haeng). Sometimes when you're eating at non-vegetarian restaurants with friends, you'll feel like you're getting a bit of a rough deal - a choice of 2-3 dishes perhaps. Keep at it. And try and make friends with some other vegetarians so you can eat together. It's always more fun!

There's a great range of vegetarian cuisine in Thailand, and generally Italian, Indian and Mexican places will cater well for you too.

Hope that helps. Please feel free to ask any more questions about vegetarianism / veganism here.

:-)

Fraktalkid

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It's great to hear of a success story. Chiang Mai seems to be the best bet for vegetarians. However, my take is it would be quite difficult to be a vegetarian in Thailand. Matter of fact I can't think of any place that would be harder. I have met hundreds of Thai's, and just 1 vegetarian, bless her. Food is the centerpiece of thai living and always comes up when socializing whether the group orders it or someone arrives with it. Food is also eaten family style. So you find yourself in all of these spontaneous situations where in front of you is a feast of....all dishes that have one meat or another. Realistically, eliminating fish & oyster sauces from your diet is out of the question unless you only go to really progressive places. Thai's just don't understand what it really means. If an order comes with meat and you remind them you ordered vegetarian, they will be confused why you don't like the fact all they did is pick the meat out and return the plate to you. And the other thing is many signature thai dishes have some type of meat. You'll never get to experience yam plaa duk foo or many other out of this world creations and have to settle for the 3rd or 4th best dishes an establishment might specialize in. The vegetarian restaurant density is very low in Bangkok. It's the type thing where you can walk to 20 restaurants or take a half hour to get to the nearest vegetarian one. And vegetarian substitutes at the grocery store have not caught on here and are difficult to impossible to get. I have yet to see so much as a vegetarian hotdog or burger at any super market. During buddhist lent some Thai oriented things vegetarian substitutes appear which is kind of cool though. Vegetarian can be done. But I think it is good to be prepared mentally for the challenges you will face.

Edited by The Coder
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Particularly for a vegan diet, you will probably want to prepare your own food. The good news is, Thailand has much more variety than whichever western country you came from. The reason for this, is that farming is labor intensive. In order to make a profit, America (for instance), resorts to mechanized labor. But, that implies that the crop has to be all one size, shape, height, weight, etc. So, by neccessity, you have to plant a huge expanse with the same crop. In Thailand, where all the labor is performed by hand, it's no problem to have an acre of this, an acre of that, and an acre of something else.

The bad news is, it may take you a while to find a place with a kitchen, to prepare your own food. This seems to be a common refrain amongst vegetarians on this site. But anyway, Good Luck, and let us know what your experience is.

:o

Edited by niteowl
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Hiya

I am a vegan and before I went to Thailand I was quite worried about what the food situation was going to be like for me. I think though, it was probably easier in Thailand than here in the UK!

I never had a problem at all. I don't think I ever went to an entirely vegetarian restaurant ever, you really don't need to. Like someone else said veganism is no harder than vegetarianism because Thai food rarely uses dairy. The only thing to note though, is that quite a few Thai dishes (such as the famous vegetarian Pad Thai) sometimes come with egg as standard. Even when it's not listed in the menu. I just make sure I always order without, just to be safe. The Thai word for vegan is "jay".

Let us know how you get on, I hope we've helped.

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Does anybody know what it's like being a vegetarian/vegan in Thailand? Are there some vegetarian restaurants and health food stores? How common is it?

Thanks!

Hi !

I have a web site about how to survive as a vegetarian in Thailand.

http://lovesthailand.googlepages.com

The vegatarian pages are on the left side of my home page.

My site has info on shopping, eating out in BKK and how to order food etc.

I just discovered a new place on Sukhumvit soi 24 ( not on my website yet) which does western style vegetarian food such as veggie burritos, sandwichs cakes etc.... It is roughly a third of the way down soi 24 from the Sukhumvit end and is amongst a brand new complex of shops in front of Asa Garden Apartment. Get of at Prom Pong Sky train station and just ask the motorbike drivers on the corner to go to Asa Gardens, it's usually a 10 baht ride. I think the name is "Vsi's" or something like that. It's the only restaurant/cafe there as far as I know and it has bright red decor. There is no indication that it is vegetarian but it is! Although not so much vegan stuff.

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It's great to hear of a success story. Chiang Mai seems to be the best bet for vegetarians. However, my take is it would be quite difficult to be a vegetarian in Thailand. Matter of fact I can't think of any place that would be harder. I have met hundreds of Thai's, and just 1 vegetarian, bless her. Food is the centerpiece of thai living and always comes up when socializing whether the group orders it or someone arrives with it. Food is also eaten family style. So you find yourself in all of these spontaneous situations where in front of you is a feast of....all dishes that have one meat or another. Realistically, eliminating fish & oyster sauces from your diet is out of the question unless you only go to really progressive places. Thai's just don't understand what it really means. If an order comes with meat and you remind them you ordered vegetarian, they will be confused why you don't like the fact all they did is pick the meat out and return the plate to you. And the other thing is many signature thai dishes have some type of meat. You'll never get to experience yam plaa duk foo or many other out of this world creations and have to settle for the 3rd or 4th best dishes an establishment might specialize in. The vegetarian restaurant density is very low in Bangkok. It's the type thing where you can walk to 20 restaurants or take a half hour to get to the nearest vegetarian one. And vegetarian substitutes at the grocery store have not caught on here and are difficult to impossible to get. I have yet to see so much as a vegetarian hotdog or burger at any super market. During buddhist lent some Thai oriented things vegetarian substitutes appear which is kind of cool though. Vegetarian can be done. But I think it is good to be prepared mentally for the challenges you will face.
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It's great to hear of a success story. Chiang Mai seems to be the best bet for vegetarians. However, my take is it would be quite difficult to be a vegetarian in Thailand. Matter of fact I can't think of any place that would be harder. I have met hundreds of Thai's, and just 1 vegetarian, bless her. Food is the centerpiece of thai living and always comes up when socializing whether the group orders it or someone arrives with it. Food is also eaten family style. So you find yourself in all of these spontaneous situations where in front of you is a feast of....all dishes that have one meat or another. Realistically, eliminating fish & oyster sauces from your diet is out of the question unless you only go to really progressive places. Thai's just don't understand what it really means. If an order comes with meat and you remind them you ordered vegetarian, they will be confused why you don't like the fact all they did is pick the meat out and return the plate to you. And the other thing is many signature thai dishes have some type of meat. You'll never get to experience yam plaa duk foo or many other out of this world creations and have to settle for the 3rd or 4th best dishes an establishment might specialize in. The vegetarian restaurant density is very low in Bangkok. It's the type thing where you can walk to 20 restaurants or take a half hour to get to the nearest vegetarian one. And vegetarian substitutes at the grocery store have not caught on here and are difficult to impossible to get. I have yet to see so much as a vegetarian hotdog or burger at any super market. During buddhist lent some Thai oriented things vegetarian substitutes appear which is kind of cool though. Vegetarian can be done. But I think it is good to be prepared mentally for the challenges you will face.

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It's great to hear of a success story. Chiang Mai seems to be the best bet for vegetarians. However, my take is it would be quite difficult to be a vegetarian in Thailand. Matter of fact I can't think of any place that would be harder. I have met hundreds of Thai's, and just 1 vegetarian, bless her. Food is the centerpiece of thai living and always comes up when socializing whether the group orders it or someone arrives with it. Food is also eaten family style. So you find yourself in all of these spontaneous situations where in front of you is a feast of....all dishes that have one meat or another. Realistically, eliminating fish & oyster sauces from your diet is out of the question unless you only go to really progressive places. Thai's just don't understand what it really means. If an order comes with meat and you remind them you ordered vegetarian, they will be confused why you don't like the fact all they did is pick the meat out and return the plate to you. And the other thing is many signature thai dishes have some type of meat. You'll never get to experience yam plaa duk foo or many other out of this world creations and have to settle for the 3rd or 4th best dishes an establishment might specialize in. The vegetarian restaurant density is very low in Bangkok. It's the type thing where you can walk to 20 restaurants or take a half hour to get to the nearest vegetarian one. And vegetarian substitutes at the grocery store have not caught on here and are difficult to impossible to get. I have yet to see so much as a vegetarian hotdog or burger at any super market. During buddhist lent some Thai oriented things vegetarian substitutes appear which is kind of cool though. Vegetarian can be done. But I think it is good to be prepared mentally for the challenges you will face.

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