Eating Veggie in Vietnam

“You can’t really eat the pho here if you’re vegetarian. You can ask to have the meat taken out but it’s the base for the broth too.”

Not really what I wanted to hear at the beginning of a month long stay in Vietnam. I know you often need to alter your expectations whilst travelling but as a self confessed, long-term strict veggie, eating meat broth is just not something that I would choose to consider and I had definitely been looking forward to trying pho!

I was grateful for the information though and my fellow veggie traveller didn’t just tell me what to avoid. She also ended up giving me loads of tips on places I could get veggie food.

Turns out it’s not so hard to eat vegetarian in Vietnam. Here are the best options I found as a veggie:

  1. Vegetarian/Vegan Cafes and Restaurants – After being confined to one page of the menu for so long, Veggie or Vegan restaurants can feel amazing, wherever you are! In Hanoi I was lucky to find a few, most notably Minh Chay and Om Hanoi: Yoga & Cafe (Former Zenith Yoga II). These places had some tasty dishes although they could stretch your budget slightly. If you can find a local Buddhist restaurant this is also a great way to enjoy a variety of meat free dishes at local prices. Most of the great veggie places I learned about here in Vietnam were from word of mouth. In Hanoi, there was the girl in my hostel and I also find that the hostel staff can often help. Failing that, you can try searching the internet or Happy Cow. Sometimes places can be a little further afield but as a special treat, I found that it was completely worth the walk.
  2. Restaurants with Vegetarian Menus – I found that most restaurants with menus have a vegetarian section or at least a few options with vegetables and tofu. Some restaurants will provide a completely separate vegetarian menu. Eating in restaurants might cause you to spend a bit more money but for ease and peace of mind, it is a great option.
  3. Request Veggie or Vegan Food – After hearing about the potential difficulties with eating veggie in Vietnam, I realised I needed a way to communicate clearly when ordering food. If the language barrier is an issue and you want to eat somewhere where a veggie menu doesn’t exist, try showing the restaurant a short note in Vietnamese. I asked one of the staff members at my hostel to do this for me and they simply wrote that I couldn’t eat meat, fish or fish sauce but that egg was okay. This note has become my safety net when ordering food here in Vietnam.
  4. Try the Food Markets – In Hoi An we were lucky enough to find out about the food market at the end of the old town. This market sells freshly cooked Vietnamese food for a fraction of what you pay in a restaurant and served some of the most delicious veggie food I have tasted!

I am now three weeks into my time here in Vietnam and I will update my posts with future veggie finds!

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Tasty pho in Minh Chay Vegan Restaurant

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