Sunday, 25 December 2016

Being Vegan in Vietnam. What Now? + Language Tips

Alrighty, let's take a break from all the food pics for a bit and have some real talk.

Last year, I wrote Being Vegan in Vietnam. I think now is a good time to look back and reflect.

Sunny Hanoi

Hmm okay, I admit my last post about being vegan in Vietnam was on a negative side because I was still not used being vegan here and it frustrated me a whole lot. I said that being vegan wasn't an easy thing here. Well, to an extent, it's still true, but after being here awhile, things have gotten much easier when I start to feel more familiar with the food and where to get it. Part of the reason I often get frustrated is because what I truly want is vegan junk food, and specific cooking and baking ingredients, which sometimes is nonexistent or expensive to buy.

Eating-out wise, I'd commented in my last post that it'd be difficult, but I've found that if you go to a Vietnamese restaurants - you know, serving Vietnamese cuisine - since a Vietnamese meal has all sorts of side dishes to eat with steamed rice, just order your share of vegetable and tofu side dishes. All can be prepared in various ways: fried, sautéed, stir-fried, braised, and stewed. It's a bit easier if you know a bit of Vietnamese when ordering though as you should still make it clear that you're a vegan or vegetarian and what you can't eat. I will give some simple language tips at the end of this post 😊

Moreover, soup - or canh as we call it in Vietnamese - and any soup-based dish (e.g phở or other kinds of noodle soup) are still on do-NOT🚫 -order/eat list unless you're at a veggie restaurant. If you're at a regular restaurant, it's very unlikely that they can prepare veggie soup for you unless it's stated otherwise in the menu. However, you can always double-check because who knows? They may be able to accommodate.. maybe.

That's for when you have to go to some non-veg restaurants though. To make life easier, just go to a veggie joints. Save you the headache. There are plenty in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City ❤ I've written about a few vegan eats in Vietnam already 😸  Food at vegetarian restaurants is 90% vegan already although do double-check about the dairy and eggs in food if you feel a little unsure.

If you're into a raw diet, then there are plenty of vegetables and fruits around. Personally, raw isn't my thing. Or if you have access to a kitchen, cook away because vegetables can be found at any markets and supermarkets. However, since there's a no BS policy on my blog, ummm I need to tell you that vegetables in Vietnam aren't all that great. The amount of pesticides and what ever chemicals to boost growth used is extremely worrisome. That's vegetables and fruits, okay? My imagination is running wild with what they may be doing to meat. One thing I know is that there have been cases where people put some stuff in meat, that has already gone bad by the way, and somehow, the meat looks good as new again 😱 😷

Still gotta eat though, so what you gonna do? Unless you have a garden, then plant your own veggies 🌱

Nevertheless, veganism does seem to be growing gradually in Vietnam! 💚  I can certainly say that is true for both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as more vegetarian and vegan places are popping out all around. Now just need some killer vegan bakeries and fast food joints 🙏  I've been back in Vietnam for more than two years now. Things are finally shaping up somewhat nicely for vegans here. For this, I am happy 😊


Okay, I do not expect you to be able to say these correctly because Vietnamese is a tricky thing to pronounce correctly for foreigners. Actually, just show them to the waiter/waitress making things a lot easier.

So, you go to a restaurant - regular or vegetarian - and you want to let people know what you don't eat certain things. Here is how:

  • I don't eat... = Tôi không ăn... 
Then add the followings:
  • animal products and byproducts  = thực phẩm và chế phẩm từ động vật
  • eggs = trứng
  • milk = sữa tươi
  • butter/margarine = (even if they say bơ thực vật meaning plant-based one, I highly doubt it's without some sort of milk product in the ingredients. Unless you can check and be 100% certain, then by all means)
  • cheese = pho-mát (usually, saying cheese should suffice, but just in case)
  • yoghurt = sữa chua 
  • honey = mật ong
  • fish sauce = nước mắm
All the words I can think of so far, but leave me a comment if you want to ask me something else.

Thanks for reading! 😃

*All photos are mine*

Instagram: cicixtran

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