Ok, ok. I’ll admit, I’m not exclusively vegan anymore. Up until leaving for my travels in late 2017, I ate a vegan-based diet for about 2-3 years after being a vegetarian for 3 years. While doing research before my travels, I knew that keeping my solely plant-based diet would be difficult but not impossible. Nevertheless, I gave into eggs once I got into Thailand. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t love vegan food and still hunt it out to slowly get back to my old ways (though I really don’t think I could give up eggs forever).
If you read my previous post about why I think Bangkok is a great destination for new expats, you will know that I love the variety of food you can get here. I’ve put together a list of my favourite vegan restaurants in Bangkok; and as a bonus, the best vegan restaurant in Chiang Mai.
My frequent spots in Bangkok
Nop Nan Vegan
I didn’t find this one, full credit goes to my lovely friends Katrina and Tom! This restaurant is disguised to look like a “normal” Thai hole-in-the-wall restaurant with a sweet Meekha cooking your food. The menu even looks like it’s for your average meat-eater, I had to ask a few times in both English and Thai to be convinced that it was vegan.
I love being able to freely try traditional Thai dishes that are made with meat without the worry that even fish sauce is added (which is really common here). My favourite this is hands down the fried chicken.
Location: Just a quick 10 min walk from Saphan Taksin BTS station, you will know you are at the right spot when you see the yellow and red “jay” flags.
May Veggie Home
I’ve been craving a burger. There are a few burger joints that offer veggie burgers in Bangkok but they are mushroom-based and I’m allergic to mushrooms. May Veggie Home is the perfect spot to go to if you are looking for comfort food. Burgers, fries, and pasta as well some delicious looking Thai dishes.
Location: It is super easy to get to as it is located right around the corner from Asok BTS station (which also links up with Sukhumvit MRT if you haven’t read my train guide yet.)
Now, if I’m being completely honest, the prices at Broccoli Revolution and May Veggie Home are quite similar, however, I feel like the price x value is quite different and therefore Broccoli Revolution is more expensive. Don’t get me wrong, the food is ok, but it tastes very… vegan. Maybe it was what I got that day but it was a bit bland. Lots of Bangkok vegans swear by Broccoli Revolution so maybe I just visited on an off day. This place has got me based off aesthetic and I would return to try some of their juices while getting some work done.
Location: A short walk from Thong Lo BTS Station, you won’t miss their brick exterior just off Sukhumvit 49.
If you are craving desserts such as cakes or other baked goods, Veganerie is a special treat. Although they offer a decent menu of vegan dishes, most people like to head here for their amazing vegan desserts. You can even order a personalized cake for any special event made with one of their twelve luscious vegan cake recipes.
Location: Veganerie has many different locations around Bangkok with one being conveniently placed in Siam Paragon Mall. This is a nice central location right next to Siam BTS station.
Vegan in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai’s vegan game is no joke. I hope to go back to explore all the yummy restaurant options there in the future but for now, here is this recommendation.
Goodsouls Kitchen Chiang Mai
Oh my! What I would do to eat at Goodsouls right now. I randomly found this spot while visiting temples with Natalie and was so glad I did. Being able to choose from a whole menu of items without any worry is my favourite and this has to be my favourite vegan restaurant in Chiang Mai. The food was decently priced and so flavourful and delicious. My favourite part was the vegan cakes and pies that are freshly made every day.
Location: Goodsouls is located within the old town walls at the corner of Singharat and Wiang Kaew roads.
A few tips for eating Vegan in Thailand:
How to ask for vegan food
The word for vegan is เจ (pronounced like jay) and is easily recognizable due to the yellow and red flags that vegan restaurants hang. You can say “gin (the g is hard as in great) jay” when you are at a restaurant and they will know you want vegan food. Even easier, just show them a picture of the เจ flag and a thumbs up.
Look in food courts
Thai food courts are next level. They aren’t filled with fast-food chains and they don’t look very fancy either. Everyone mall has a small food court and almost every food has at least one vegan stall. These food courts are basically like a little market, inside the mall which also means cheap street food prices.
Food courts in Thailand almost always run on a card system. This means that you need to go to a booth and load up a card that you can use to pay for your food. Once you have finished eating, head back to that same booth to have the remaining balance refunded back to you.
Thai Vegan Festival
If you are visiting in late September- early October, you might be in Thailand for the annual vegan festival. This festival, called the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, is a Taoist tradition and is based on the lunar calendar, so the dates change every year. During this week, the idea is to cleanse your body of all the bad which means not eating any animal products, not consuming alcohol, abstaining from sex, and as a whole cleansing your mind from negative or evil thoughts.
If you are in Phuket, expect a strange week of watching some Thai people practicing rituals of self-mutilation which are not for the faint of heart. They believe that they have been possessed with the power to communicate with Gods and do not experience pain during these ceremonies. If you are squeamish or get triggered by acts like that as I do, you don’t have to worry about that as much in the North (I didn’t witness anything of the sort while in Bangkok). The people of Bangkok do however eat vegan for the whole festival which means easy to find affordable and delicious vegan food on every corner.
My Biggest Issue with eating Vegan in Thailand
As I mentioned, I started eating eggs because within the first couple days of travelling around Thailand, I had zero energy to do anything. My theory was that I was not getting enough protein and I think I was right. For some strange reason, I personally found it difficult to substitute tofu into my dishes. I know tofu isn’t the only alternative source of protein, but it is my usual go-to.
I like street food. Pad See-ew is my jam and my favourite Thai dish but if you try to eat it vegan at most stalls, it’s just noodles and a bit of greens in the sauce. Chiang Mai is a little better about it than Bangkok but I found that a lot of street food stalls just don’t have tofu on hand.
As a whole, I thought even eating vegetarian was going to be an issue in Thailand and boy was I wrong. Some of the best vegan food I’ve ever had was found here and I highly recommend checking out all the places on this list.
Did I miss skip your favourite place? Let me know down in the comments, I’m always looking for reasons to head back to Bangkok!