Travel Vegan in Indonesia

Indonesia is an incredibly vast country, with over 18,000 islands to explore. On one hand, that means that you have plenty to choose from, on the other hand, it makes it harder to make decisions 🙂

I started my trip on the island of Bali, and from there I explored other islands, I travelled through Lombok, Sumbawa and Java. It was a long trip full of adventures some good and others not so much, like experiencing uncountable earthquakes and tsunami alerts.

Indonesia is a beautiful country, that is incredibly diverse and breathtaking in many ways… and a pot of many cultures, customs and religions, that is shown in their rich food scene.

Vegan Food in Indonesia

In Indonesia, a lot of common dishes are actually vegan by default. I was relieved to find that I could go pretty much anywhere and find something delicious to eat. I didn’t feel limited at all during my trip. Don’t be afraid to try everything including the street food, and going to night markets.

Bali receives more tourists than anywhere else in Indonesia and many of them are health-focused, especially in Ubud. So that means that here the vegan food scene is quite strong.

You can’t talk about vegan food in Indonesia without mention Tempeh and Tofu!!

Tempeh is made of fermented soybeans a delicious high-protein food. Like Tempeh, Tofu can be found pretty much everywhere. Both are quite versatile and tasty, so even if you eat them all the time, like I did, its unlikely that you get fed up.

Indonesian Vegan Dishes

Gado Gado: Boiled vegetables and rice with peanut sauce.

Vegetable curry: The name is quite explanatory is a dish made with veggies and curry.

Meaty gudeg: Made from unripe jackfruit and coconut milk.

Urap-Urap: Salad dish of steamed vegetables mixed with spicy grated coconut served with rice.

Capcay: A stir-fry vegetable dish.

Sayur lodeh: Is a vegetable soup/stew with coconut milk served with rice or rice cakes.

Keripik tempeh pedas: Fried thin tempeh slices.

Jogja gudeg: Made with boiled young jackfruit, and marinated with coconut milk and sugar.

Lontong Cap Gomeh: a vegetable stew cooked in coconut milk served with or over rice cakes.

Vegan Indonesian snacks and sweets

Indonesia has plenty of fresh tropical fruit like mangoes, mangosteen, dukuh, papaya, snake fruit, pineapple, sirsak, dragonfruit, between others.

They also have plenty delicious desserts like sweets, cakes and puddings that can easily be found at the local markets. They are usually made with rice flour, coconut milk, palm sugar, shredded coconut, cassava, yam and banana, they are really tasty and cheap.

Es Teler is made with young shredded coconut, avocado and jackfruit.

Klepon are sweet coconut rice balls, that can be made with rice flour or black sticky rice.

Be wary of…

*Dairy isn’t really a big thing in Southeast Asia but is always better to double check.

*Fish sauce and shrimp paste (terasi), are very common and used as a base for a lot of foods. It’s easily hidden in soups, stews, and other vegetable dishes.

*Eggs can be found in many dishes and is not always obvious, so just ask.

*Many dishes also come with a side of prawn crackers.

If you’re like me and you like to go off the beaten path, it’s sensible to learn some of the local lingo.

I’m sure you will be impressed by how easy (and tasty) it is to be vegan in Indonesia.

Animal Attractions

Sadly, like many places around the world, animals in Indonesia are exploited in the tourism industry. So make sure you do your research beforehand so you don’t end supporting terrible practices.  Do responsible tourism and keep your self away from cruel attractions such as Luwak coffee farms or shows and performances with elephants.

What else is special about Indonesia:
    • Beaches
    • Volcanoes
    • Wild animals in their natural habitat
    • Rich marine life
    • Translucent ocean
    • Majestic mountains
    • World’s largest volcanic lake
    • Valleys
    • Cliffs
    • Waterfalls
    • Rice paddies
    • Lotus ponds
    • Culture
    • Rituals
    • Temples

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

A vegan in Singapores

Being a vegan in Singapore is just pure heaven, you can find lots of great options anywhere.

In December 2016 Peta named Singapore the second most friendly vegan city in Asia, so that should mean something  😀

Singapore’s food combines Chinese, Malay, Indian, Western influences, Japanese and Thai,  and is rich in vegetarian options. For me the best places were the hawker centres (food-courts), they are easy to find and have a bit of everything from fruit juices, smoothies made with local and exotic fruit, desserts, pure vegan meals and even raw vegan. You will be able to taste all cuisines, from 4$-12$ per meal. You can also look for Indian and vegetarian Chinese restaurants often serving up amazing vegan options.

If you eat in a non-vegetarian restaurant be aware that dishes that appear vegetarian on the menu may contain oyster sauce, salted fish, etc. just check with the staff first.

Here are some places that I recommend for having great delicious and affordable food. Remember that healthy dishes that require a lot of efforts and innovation often come with large bills 🙂

hawker centres:

  • Circuit Road Food Centre has many vegetarian food stalls; here you can try the vegan versions of local dishes such as tahu goreng, satay, briyani rice, nasi lemak (coconut rice), hor fun, chicken rice, laksa, etc.
  • Fortune Centre at Bugis has many great vegan eateries and more options outside the centre.
  • Redhill Market and Food Centre – vegetarian cuisine is popular at this food centre, try the Bee Hoon with mock Char Siew from the Ru Yi Yuan Vegetarian Food.
  • Kim San Leng Food Centre
  • Bendemeer Market and Food Centre

(many veg food stalls tend to be closed on Monday)

restaurants / eateries:

  • Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant (Little India) has a very extensive menu (about 400 items of which three-quarters are listed as vegan) and you can sample Indian, Chinese, international and local dishes and desserts all under one roof.
  • Divine Realm Vegetarian Restaurant –  Chinese vegetarian
  • Nature Vegetarian Delights – Chinese vegetarian restaurant
  • Xing Hua Vegetarian Restaurant. It’s a Chinese restaurant serving mainly mock-meats
  • Yi xin vegetarian – the best in china town
  • Zen Fut Sai Kai Vegetarian Restaurant 
  • Genesis vegan Restaurant 
  •  Vegandeli SG 
  • Green Leaf Cafe – Little India.
  • Veggie King International Buffet
  • Steamboat Restaurant for international, regional (Japanese, Korean, Thai) and local buffet dishes which include desserts.
  • Fill-a-Pita -Middle Eastern vegetarian food.
  •  vegetarians from West-side: Hua Jin Vegetarian Family Restaurant and Tanaka Vegetarian Food
  • Japanese vegetarian food (a bit priceyBespoke Japanese Vegetarian Dining and Herbivore 
  • For vegan burgers you have: Vegan Burg and the nomVnom
  • Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, the Singapore Buddhist Lodge and the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery serve vegetarian food.

Tips:  Keep an eye out for the Singapore Food Festival, held every year in July.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

🚌  Tips on how to travel in Singapore on a budget  🚌

A Vegan in Sabah _ Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu, was actually a very pleasant surprise, through my stay I easily found really great places to eat.
I just need to start to say that KK has countless markets, all selling fresh fruit, juices, coconut water and lots of other local vegan delicacies.
I had no trouble at eating at the street markets either, the food was okay, nothing too extraordinary  but I appreciated that they could always veganaise something for me.
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I’m going to start with my very favourite place of all, the Vege Garden.
The only reason I didn’t have all my meals there was just because I wasn’t always in the city and they are only open till 5pm.
This small eaterie located between an Orange Convenience store and a Tourism Operator, and it’s part of Wisma Sabah mall. the food is just amazing and it’s very affordable.
The owner is super friendly and is always happy to give you some advice about the food he has for the day, and if they have run out of food they will arrange something for you. I loved this place so much that I had all my breakfasts there, a few lunches and even a couple of meals as a snack 😀 😀
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The Liew Chai Vegetarian has really delicious options of mock meat, and its very affordable.
If you are not a mock meat fan they also have a good selection of vegetables and tofu.
 This eatery is located in the middle of the food court on the lower ground floor of the Centrepoint Mall.
Beyond Veggie is located in the Suria Sabah Shopping Mall. Its a bit more sophisticated and modern and more expensive than the other ones a mention. Has a huge variety of dishes and desserts and the food is tasty.
Among all the food, the most surprising things we found on KK was the coconut jelly/pudding that is served in a coconut shell with the flesh of the coconut, I truly enjoyed it.
The green caviar (called also by Latok or sea grapes), that is a type of seaweed found in Sabah and Philippines. I found it at the Night market.
Interesting enough for the first time in my travellers life I just found many stalls selling fermented drinks and herbal teas with fungus.
 Other dishes we had:
Click here if you want to know what to do and visit at Kota Kinabalu and here if you are planning to visit the islands.
photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Cameron Highlands_ what to do & where to eat

We got the bus from Ipoh to the cameron Highlands (18RM). It’s a beautiful journey but very hard for those who get sick easily, so get ready.

We decided to stay at Tanah Rata just because it has more affordable options of restaurants and hotels. Tanah Rata is no doubt the most convenient place but don’t expect a particularly charming place.

In town there are many shops/hotels offering tours, but we decided to go on our own. We looked at the different options like renting a bike or a scooter, but that turned out to be difficult. So we sticked with the last option available hitchhiking 👍🏼 and I’m so glad we did, the people we meet were so nice and gave us lots of great tips. Hitchhiking was perfectly safe.

During the time we spend there we visited the Boh and the Bonet tea plantation were we did some trekking. The surrounding landscape covered in tea is beautiful. You can visit both for free.

If you like to hike there are many great jungle treks with streams and waterfalls to be found. You can also hike to the Peak of Brinchang Mountain and explore Mossy Forest. The views are breathtaking.

EAT:

There are some options available however don’t expect any food heaven 🙂

At Tanah Rata there are plenty of  indian restaurantes so banana leaf meals and dosas for all 😀 I specially recommend the Sri Brinchang and the restaurant Kumar both have some variety of vegan dishes and the food is quite tasty.

They also have a small evening market with a few local specialities, like the Apam Balik (pancakes with peanuts).

Nearby Brinchang we found a local not-for-profit vegan restaurant, and a great vegan buffet restaurant near the night market – Fu Guang Vegetarian.

The Night Market at Brinchang its good for cheap local food. They also have a weekend market selling fresh fruit and vegetables.

You can’t miss Cameron Highlands mostly if you like to hike, the other attractions probably don’t worth the time and money 🙂

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

A vegan in Melaka

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We attempted to go to the Night Market on Jonker Street but was choc-a-bloc with people, so we gave up on that, but not on the idea of finding a good market away from the heavy tourist wave. So we talked with a few locals and cycled to the suburbs to find a great market thrumming with locals and fresh vegan treats, and we also found a good small night market  with the best popiahs in the world 🙂

Malaysia is one of the easiest places in South East Asia to find vegan and vegetarian food, and  Melaka wasn’t an exception. You have great street food,  eateries and restaurants, among the places I tried, I do recommend the Soon Wong Vegetarian Restaurant,  the Mori Vegetarian Tea House, the indian restaurant Selvam Restrain, and the Veggie Planet 

Once in Melaka if you want to try something different and delicious don’t miss:

  • Lei Cha, a traditional hakka rice dish,
  • Roti canai,
  • mock meat,
  • fresh spring rolls (popiahs),
  • Barley drink,
  • one of this great sweets, kuih, ondeh-ondeh, putu piring (steamed rice flour cake with gula melaka filling), Putu Bambu (rice flour and shredded coconut with a filling of gula melaka), Apam Balik (pancakes filled with sweetcorn and peanuts),

To come to the point, we did a lot of really good eating, which always makes us happy. Malaysia and Melaka is full of foodie surprises…

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

🚌 More about Melaka here 🚌

a Vegan in Sarawak – island of Borneo

Sarawak’s food is just amazing, and the only problem you will have being a vegan is not to gain 10kg 🙂

Kuching 

🌱Sin Wei Tong cafe – has a vegetarian stall, great food around 5RM per dish. some dishes have egg but can request without.

🌱Shun son yen – vegetarian restaurant by kilo, with delicious food and fresh juices I paid around 15RM for my meal. Make sure you go early to have all the option still available because the food goes quickly. You can try a bit of everything.

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🌱 water front –  there are food stalls and restaurants that have great vegan options.

🌱Zhen Xiang Zhai, delicious food and a good place to try the Sarawak laksa, they close at 3pm. A meal with drinks will cost around 15RM  you can choose from the buffet or order off their menu.

🌱open marker – lovelly local place to explore.

🌱Food fair, at the time you are visiting Kuching check if they have a food fair, they have all kinds of food, but be prepared for a crowded place.

Bau

🌱Bau food court– One of the food stalls serves exclusively great vegan food but other stall still have a few options, have a look and ask around.

Other food in the region

💚Seri Muka – Malaysian sweet with rice with pandas leavesimg_1804

💚Steamed Buns –  easily find any food markets and street stalls. They have vegetarian fillings like – sweet been past,  Kaya, Pandan or black sesame paste.

💚Kendal, dessert made with coconut milk, green jelly noodles (rice flour)

💚ABC, made out of shaved ice and a variety of ingredients such as red beans, fruit, sweet corn, grass jelly, etc..

💚Ondeh-Ondeh, glutinous rice flour dumplings filled with ‘gula Melaka’

💚Sticky coconut rice with palm sugar and mango

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💚Fruit and Vegetables, don’t miss it …

💚Other treats

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

A taste of Vegan Thailand, testimony and tips

15I have been in Thailand twice, and visited the country from north to south, east to west and several islands from both seas. Thailand was the firsts country I visited in Southeast Asia and since then fell in love for that part of the globe.

If you are planning to travel there, be prepared to be astonished with its exotic, luxurious and unspoiled natural areas, colorful places, interesting temples, nice, smiley and laid-back people, great weather, unbelievable beaches, maniac drivers, and at last but not the least THE FOOD….

From my personal experience, I need to say that’s fairly easy to have a vegan/vegetarian diet in Thailand. Even when you adventure yourself out of the big cities and you go to places that haven’t seen many Foreigners.

I found that being vegan in Thailand is often deeply respected as Thailand is a predominately Buddhist country.  There is a big prevalence of soy products, like milk and tofu, and traditionally Thai food doesn’t contain dairy, this includes desserts 🙂 so your main concern will mainly involve the use of eggs.

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Fruit stands, fresh markets, night markets and street stalls are very abundant. You will have so many vegan options to choose from, that looks like heaven. All my meals included fresh veggies, fruit (so much fruit),  rice or rice noodles, juices and Coconut Water and may I say fruit again 🙂

The fruit is just amazing, you definitely need to try Mango, Mangosteen, Rambutan, Pineapple, dragon fruit, Custard Apple, Langsat, Longan, watermelon and, Coconut.

The fruit is so delicious that I just couldn’t have enough of it… and you will understand why…

The only problem is what they cook with. They tend to use  fish sauce, oyster sauce, and shrimp paste a lot, so be careful, prepared and relaxed knowing that most of the times communication is not the best, so make sure you explain that you are vegan/vegetarian and you don’t consume shrimp paste (gapi), oyster sauce (sot hoi naag rom), and fish sauce (nam bplaa).  In some odd occasions I even needed to add that I don’t eat chicken too 😀

If you can’t communicate your needs and you’re feeling uncomfortable just politely decline and move on to another location. you will see that everyone will smile and be kind to you. I like to eat in the street stalls and markets, from my experience people is really nice and will try to do something for you even if is not in their “menu” but be prepared to be persuaded to have their normal dish because they think what you are asking is not going to be delicious 🙂 Try not to be to picky and expect them to cook using the same pans where they did the chicken, fish and shrimps.

jclassrestaurant_thumb4I found that the easiest way is to say that you follow a jay diet, which translates as strict vegan, but with no garlic and onions. So you can look for the national sign: a bright yellow flag with “Jay” (เจ) written in red, looks like a 17. You can find this sign almost everywhere from restaurants, food stalls or supermarket packages. The restaurants are not too expensive and the food is great.

I found that looking for Taoist temples which have also restaurants is great as well, they are vegan, the price is usually low and they use lots of really delicious textured vegetable.

It’s also good to know that Thailand hosts a great annual national vegetarian festival called teet-sa-kan kin jay, so you can always try to travel during those dates  (9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar) you will not regret.

Happy Cow is a very useful tool to find restaurants.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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