When you talk about the best cuisine in the world, Thai food is right up there. Along with Italian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Mexican, Thai food makes it to the top 10 list of popular cuisines in the world. However, most of the popular dishes include meat, often pork, chicken, beef or seafood, as an ingredient. Because of this, if you’re vegan or looking for vegetarian Thai food you need to know and plan about it during your trip to Thailand. I have got some good news for you. You can still take a foodie trip to the ‘Land of Smiles’ and feast on some delicious vegetarian dishes.
The Thai combination of herbs and spices create ‘to die for meals’ that are spicy, sour, sweet, crunchy and chewy. That’s why a lot of people love Thai dishes because of all the flavors it presents in one meal.
Read to know more about the vegetarian Thai food dishes you must try during your trip, the best places to get them and how to order the food.
Remember to travel to Thailand from India you’ll need a Thailand eVoa from India.
Irresistible Vegetarian Thai Food Dishes To Try
1. Som Tam (Spicy Green Thai Papaya Salad)
This is one of the popular Thai vegetarian dishes you can try in Thailand. The mouthwatering meal is prepared using, galangal, juicy tomatoes, carrots, shredded green (unripe) papaya, lime and tamarind juice, long beans, palm sugar, and peanuts. The ingredients give the meal a sweet, spicy, salty, sour and savory flavor. The salad usually has fish sauce and prawns included, so when ordering you make sure to say you’re vegetarian/vegan for these ingredients not to be included in your dish.
2. Pad Thai (Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)
A vegetarian Thai food cuisine menu cannot miss this dish. It is one of the national dishes in Thailand and is also very popular among tourists. Mostly it is cooked with eggs, bean sprouts, tasty tofu cubes, onions, lime juice, groundnuts, and shrimp or chicken. However, you can ask the chef to omit the meat products. The famous Thai dish is just as tasty without them. Pad Thai is sold everywhere in Thailand from five-star restaurants to the street food stalls.
3. Pad Phuk Tong (Stir-Fried Pumpkin)
You’re probably used to seeing pumpkins begin carved out during Halloween. In Thailand they have a much better use for pumpkins, they use them to create this vegetarian dish. Other ingredients used to prepare Pad Phuk tong are spring onions, coriander leaves, sugar, garlic, water, white pepper, celery, and soy sauce. This is one of the best vegetarian dishes in Thailand and you should try it with Thai fragrant rice.
4. Pak Boong (Morning Glory)
This is one of the healthiest foods you can take while you’re on vacation in Thailand. The delicious salad which is salty, crunchy, spicy and sour has soy sauce, chilies, soybean paste, and garlic. Oyster sauce is often added when preparing morning glory, so again tell the cook making it not to include the sauce to keep it vegetarian.
5. Pad Pak (Fried Vegetables)
As the name suggests this is an all-vegetable Thai dish. Some of the vegetables used to make it are mushrooms, cauliflower, and broccoli. When you go to a food stall you’ll see the different vegetables used to prepare it displayed and you can choose what you want or don’t want in your Pad Pak.
6. Vegetable Noodle Soup with Lemongrass
Should you visit Thailand during the cold season this noodle soup is what you should have to keep you warm on a chilly day. It is known to be a good remedy for a cold or flu and is also said to help boost your mood. To make it lemongrass, several vegetables, thin rice noodles or noodles of your choice, coconut milk is needed. The soup is quite filling and can be had as a meal on its own at any time of the day.
7. Vegetarian Thai Green Curry
Thai cuisine has a wide variety of curries with Panang and Massaman curry being some of the most popular ones. A lot of curries are made with meat but this can be removed in your order. The Thai green vegetable curry, for example, has meat in it but you can substitute this with tofu or wheat gluten. Whichever you choose will be mixed with kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, coriander seeds, green chilies, and coconut milk.
8. Pad Phak (Stir-Fried Vegetables)
This is another all vegetable meal that will ensure you stick to your vegetarian diet. It will also leave you full but wanting for more. Ingredients required to make this meal are vegetable oil, coarsely chopped garlic, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, shallots, carrots, bell pepper, snow peas, mushrooms, soy sauce, spinach leaves, Thai pepper powder, and lime juice. These are all mixed together to give your food several different flavors. You can enjoy this meal with Thai jasmine rice.
9. Tao Hoo Song Kreung (Mixed Tofu)
If you don’t know tofu, it is soya milk coagulated to create curd. It is an excellent source of protein, iron, and calcium for vegans and vegetarians. To make this Thai meal different types of tofu are fried with the basil to make a tasty stir fry. Like most of the other dishes, we have talked about mixed tofu is usually served with some steaming rice.
10. Laab Jay (Vegan Laab)
In Thailand, most Laab salads have chicken, beef or pork but you can have a vegetarian version. Simply replace the meat with tofu and you have an amazing meal. The tofu is mixed with lime juice, Thai roasted chili paste, green onions, coriander leaves, roast rice powder, lemongrass, etc. The spices used to make this meal make it very hot and spicy, so if you don’t like spicy food ask for it to be prepared moderate or mild.
11. Thai fruit
If you have had enough of Thai vegetable meals on your trip switch to some fruits. Fruits are very healthy and in Thailand, you can try some of their rare fruits. You can but a bag of fruits from street vendors for 40 Baht (Baht is the official currency of Thailand), which is about $1. Mangosteen, rambutans, banana, durian, pomelos, rose apples, dragon fruit, lychee, coconut, and guava are some of the fruits you’ll find available at the fruit stand on the street corners of Bangkok.
Read More – Parallels in Indian and Thai Cuisine
There are so many more vegetarian Thai food dishes you can try while in Thailand. I’ll just list other options you can taste without going into details about them.
- Heavenly pineapple fried rice. This is rice fried with cashews, peas, curry-flavored sauce and chunks of pineapple.
- Thai Vegetable Spring Rolls. These make for a good snack as you travel around Thailand sightseeing. Stuffed with vegetables try them with sweet and sour or hot sauce.
- Thai Mushroom Fried Rice
- Khao Niew Ma Muang (mango sticky rice)
- Thai Peanut Noodles
- Chao Kuai. This is a Thai dessert prepared using sun-dried stems and leaves of the Chinese Mesona plant which are boiled to make a jelly.
Top Vegetarian Thai food Restaurants in Thailand
You can get Thai vegetarian dishes in most cities in Thailand you go visit. However, to make it easier for you here are some of my favorite vegetarian restaurants you can visit around Thailand:
1. Broccoli Revolution, Bangkok
This vegetarian Thai food restaurant located in downtown Sukhumvit was first opened in Bangkok in 2015. It now has two locations. It not only serves vegetarian dishes from around the world but also has a juice bar, which makes some of the best organic juices you’ll ever drink.
The Restaurant is open daily from 7 am to 10 pm so you can head on there for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I recommend you try the pad thai, mushrooms and basil on rice and green curry. This will cost you about 150-200 baht.
2. Greenlight Cafe & Bar, Koh Samui
This is not an exclusively vegetarian restaurant but their menu includes a wide range of Thai vegetable meals you will enjoy. Most of the ingredients used to make their dishes are organic and come from their kitchen garden.
It is open throughout the week 8 am to 10 pm. You can find the Greenlight Cafe & Bar at 3/28 Moo 1, Fisherman’s Village, Bophut, Koh Samui.
3. Atsumi Raw Cafe
This restaurant located in Rawai, Phuket is well known for its raw vegan and raw vegetarian menu. It also serves an amazing selection of smoothies, desserts, and juices made from organic ingredients. Going through its menu you may be overwhelmed by the large number of vegetarian dishes to choose from. However, the tom ka soup and zucchini pepper wrap will blow you away. Atsumi Raw Cafe is open from 9 am to 8:30 pm daily. The last order taken is at 8 pm.
4. Tien Sien
At this simple Thai restaurant, you get to choose what you want to eat as the food is served buffet style. You simply get in line and point out what you want on your plate. The restaurant has very friendly staff who will explain to you what the different Thai meals displayed on the counter are.
Meals are affordable and for about 70 Baht you can enjoy a large plate of vegan food. Situated at 439 Khwaeng Silom, Khet Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, this restaurant is closed on Sundays but from Monday to Saturday it is open from 7:30 am to 3 pm.
5. May Veggie Home, Bangkok
Their motto is ‘Tasty vegetables amazing dishes. When you’re here, you’re family!’
The all-vegetarian restaurant food has got many tourists taking and it has been dubbed by some as the best vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok. Looking at the reviews made by those who have been there that assertion could be true.
If you visit May Veggie Home try the Tom Kha mushroom soup, yellow curry with tofu, pad thai tofu or Penang curry with tofu, I guarantee you will love these meals. For dessert, there are several vegan cakes and ice creams you can order.
The restaurant is at 8/3 (Asoke-Sukhumvit Intersection) Ratchadaphisek Road, Khlong Toei, Bangkok. It is open from 11 am–10 pm daily.
6. Ethos Vegetarian
If you’re looking for a relaxing place to grab a late supper after a long day of touring in Bangkok this is the place to go to. Located near Khaosan Night Market, the market that never sleeps, Ethos Vegetarian is open until a few minutes to midnight every day. So you can pass by here for a meal before heading back to your hotel to call it a day.
Try the yellow curry with potatoes, spicy glass noodle soup, vegetarian Thai spring rolls and don’t forget to ask for some of their fresh fruit juices.
7. May Kaidee
This restaurant has two locations, one in Bangkok and another in Chiang Mai. Both serve mouthwatering vegan and vegetarian meals, such as tofu green curry, banana flower salad, Pad Tai, and som tom.
If you would like to learn how to make Thai food, to cook for yourself or family once you get back home, May Kaidee offers cooking classes you can attend throughout the year. There are open every day from 9 am to 10 pm.
Read more – Street Food in rural Thailand
As you can see there are many Thai vegetarian dishes and places that sell these meals in Thailand. So you don’t have to worry that you won’t stick to your vegan or vegetarian diet when you travel to the country.
However to be on the safe side always tell the chef or waiter serving you that you are vegetarian or vegan. You can do that in Thai by saying “gin jay.” Because most restaurants prepare your food after you make an order. The chef or waiter will take extra precaution not to add meat to your meal.
For a vegan to ensure no fish sauce or oyster sauce is added to your meal say “mai ow nam bplaa” or “mai ow nam man hoy” This way you get no meat or animal products in your meal.
Let us know which of these meals you have tasted/tried during your trip. How was it? We would also like to taste them if we haven’t already done so on our next trip to Thailand.