The building was non-descript and the location, right next to the busy city gate, felt like a tourist trap. But as we walked into Aum, the shabby restaurant presented us with the fragrant aromas of Thai curries and fluffy steamed rice and we were sold.
Thailand is a great introduction to vegan travel in Southeast Asia. The markets are fully stocked with fresh fruit, coconut water and juices. Locals tend to speak enough English to understand veggie requests and if that wasn’t enough, there’s a staggering amount of vegan Jain restaurants hidden in plain sight.
Where to eat vegan in Thailand
May Veggie Home
Bangkok • Soi 16 Ratchadapisek Road • ££
Not far from Asok BTS, May Veggie Home is a 100% vegan restaurant, serving a mix of Thai, Japanese and Western dishes. The Massaman and Green curries with brown sticky rice are rich and have the right amount of spice. Fruit smoothies and scrumptious desserts are also on the menu.
Chaing Mai• 319 Mun Mueang Rd • £
Aum is one of our favourite places in the whole of Thailand. Homely, delicious and cheap food, right near Thaphae Gate. Read more about it here.
Pun Pun Vegetarian
Chaing Mai• 139 Suthep Road (Behind Wat Suan Dok) • £
Part of Wat Suan Dok, Pun Pun serves homemade Thai food following the Buddhist principles of non-aggression. Read more about it here.
Suan Dok Vegetarian Food
Chiang Mai • Suthep Road • £
Next door to Wat Suan Dok and across the street from the Faculty of Pharmacy, Suan Dok Vegetarian supports the yellow flags that mark Jain restaurants. The food is cooked without garlic or onion and without animal by-products. The eatery offers a good and diverse range of Thai vegan dishes at low prices.
Om Garden Café
Pai • 60/1 Wiang Tai • ££
Behind a luscious garden with ponds and Buddha statuettes, hides Om Garden Café. The menu offers a mix of Thai and Mediterranean dishes, and although it serves meat, there are vegan options available. The portions are big and the curries can easily feed two people.
The thatched walls and the greenery of the space make for the perfect place to hide from the afternoon heat while drinking one of their refreshing fruit juices.
Hongming Vegetarian Food
Krabi • Thanon Phruksauthit • £
Another Jain restaurant that offers authentic Thai cuisine at very cheap prices. There’s no menu, instead ask for a plate of rice and choose from the toppings on display at the counter. We also love that there’s no disposable cutlery or dishes.
A veggie friendly restaurant right off Long Beach, I-rie dining area is divided in small elevated huts with cushions and low tables. The curries and papaya salad are scrumptious, the smoothies and fruit juices fresh as they come.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Learn the local lingo. Jay is the Thai word used to describe a strict vegetarian diet that also has no eggs, dairy, onion or garlic. Women should say "chan gin jay" and men "pom gin jay”.
- Jay (or Jain) stalls and restaurants are normally small, bare bones and easy to miss. But they offer great food at a competitive price. Look for yellow flags with a number 17 in it.
- Stock up on fruit at the markets.
- Food around the isles is more expensive than anywhere else in Thailand, especially if you go to a restaurant.
- If going on a tour that provides meals let them know in advance your restriction.
- Download Happy Cow, the veggie food app/website, listing all the veggie restaurants available near you.