Teaching in Thailand gives you the chance to explore this beautiful country, but finding suitable food can be a concern for vegans and vegetarians. Never fear! We’re here to help! Check out our guide to veggie Thai delicacies below!
Eating vegetarian and vegan food in Thailand can be tricky at times as there is so much food that contains meat or fish products. However, there are ways around it and you do not have to miss out on the wonders of Thai cuisine just because you’ve got a few restrictions.
To start off, when in Thailand, you may be overwhelmed with the selection of tropical & tasty fruit that is available. Delicious dragon fruit, mangoes, papayas, guavas, coconuts, and countless other exotic fruits are easily available at every market, and fruit stalls along the streets. Just take your pick. Furthermore, occasionally you may find an interesting addition at many stalls, sweet potatoes. Surprisingly, you can also find the purple variety!
Additionally, there are quite a few options for all sorts of snacks, like tofu, spring rolls, rice cakes, corn, and vegetables. This can often be found in a deep-fried variety (yum).
One of the staple dishes in Thailand is Papaya Salad. This is widely available, just remember to order it without shrimp (mai sai koong) and without fish sauce (mai sai nam bplaa) to stay on the safe side. Or just order Som Tam Jay (papaya salad, vegan).
At first, when you try to order vegetarian or vegan food at a restaurant it might seem like a bit of challenge, and you may be faced with confused looks from the waiter or chef at the food stall, or restaurant. Don’t worry, this is mainly due to the language barrier and to combat this we have put together a list of our favourite vegetarian, and vegan foods, along with a guide on how to order them.
However, before we go into details, it is good to know the difference between ordering your food as VEGETARIAN, OR VEGAN:
I am vegetarian = “bpen mang sawirat ”. This means that you do not eat pieces of meat and fish, including seafood, but other animal products like fish sauce, eggs etc. are ok.
I am vegan = “gin jay”, this means you do not eat any animal products and also no garlic, onion and few other herbs and vegetable that have a certain type of strong flavour. With this knowledge it’s often better to ask for food without meat, and animal products instead of ‘jay’ as you may find the food bland for your tastes.
There are different specialities in various regions around in Thailand. To make it even easier for you, we have put together a list of basic phrases that you can print out or save so you can bring it along with you and order your favourite foods with ease.
Here is a guide to COMMON VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN FOOD in Thailand and how to order it:
Pad Pak Bung (Morning Glory) mai sai nam maan hoi (no oyster sauce)
Kow phad pak (fried rice with vegetables) / mai sai kai (do not put egg) / sai kai (put egg)
Phad pak luam (stir fried mixed vegetable) / mai sai nam maan hoi (no oyster sauce)
Pad pak ruam prik gaeng mixed vegetables, fried with chili paste and kaffir lime
(however, be aware that many of the curry pastes have shrimp paste in them)
Phad thai jay (fried noodles vegan),
Phad thai (fried noodles), mai sai kai (do not put egg), mai sai koong (no shrimp)
Fried Rice Noodles
Phad see ew phak (fried wide noodles with soy sauce vegetables)
Phad see ew (fried wide noodles) with eggs (sai khai)
Tom Yam Het (mixed mushroom soup, can have either with coconut milk or clear)
Pad Gra Pao Het Jay Most of the restaurants can make this. It includes fried mushrooms, or tofu, and it’s fried with chillies and basil.
Yam Tuo Poo (green beans with peanut sauce). This is a crispy and savoury side dish to accompany any type of noodle or plain steamed rice.
Khao Soi Jay
Rice noodle with sweet and sour peanut sauce. This dish may sometimes be hard to find, however, if you do, you’re in for a treat.
Additionally, if you have a sweet tooth, Thailand`s cuisine offers a vast variety of desserts for you to enjoy. Some of our favourite classics are:
Box of various Thai sweets, made with steamed coconut, toddy palm, banana and corn.
Deep fried breaded banana and potato balls.
What do you think? Want to sample some vegetarian and vegan food in Thailand? Maybe teaching in Thailand could be for you! Teaching English can make a huge difference in the community, expanding the horizons of your students and allowing them to lift their families out of poverty. It also gives people confidence and leadership skills that can be transferrable to other careers. Start your adventure today by taking our accredited TESOL course. We can’t wait to see where your journey will take you.