Is it easy to be a vegan or vegetarian in the Philippines? In theory, at least veganism in the Philippines should be a walk in the park, they got rice, they got fruit, they got vegetables, but like most things in the Philippines, it is not all that easy.
So, let’s start with the positives!
The Philippines speak English (mostly) which means a theoretical avoidance of not getting what you ordered. Sadly saying you are vegan, or vegetarian does not necessarily mean that is what you will get. Veganism is not all that understood (yet).
The Philippines also used to be an American colony, and in the big cities, such as Manila there are franchises that at least will understand being a Vegan.
And lastly, there is a shed load of fruit! The Philippines has thousands of islands, and the fruit is amazing. Mango salad anyone?
And now to the problems with being a vegan in the Philippines……..
The Philippines loves meat, particularly pork, and chicken. Visit an inihaw Filipino barbecue, and there are no non-meat options.
Filipinos also love cheese and a lot of fish. Vegetarians and pescetarians are indeed well covered, vegans less so.
Also, there’s the very real fact that Filipino food isn’t all that flavorsome, well that isn’t truly fair, but the lack of spices and the like mean that any food that does not contain meat will taste a bit shit, something your local server will no doubt be happy to share with you.
But all is not lost…….
Finding Vegan Restaurants in the Philippines
Manila is a bustling metropolis that serves almost every cuisine known to man. There are vegan restaurants here and in other big cities of the Philippines. The countryside is a different story…
Korean Food is huge in the Philippines
Korean food is notoriously quite vegan friendly, and Korean food is now a huge thing in the Philippines. Some cities even have Korea Towns.
Cook your own food
The Philippines is a fresh food heaven with state of the art western-style supermarkets, but also local markets that sell fresh fruit and vegetables. It is cheap enough to do AirBnB or apartment rental in the Philippines, cook your own food, easy life.
The Philippines has the worlds best mangos
This is no broad statement, it is pure fact. The mango salad is a thing, and mangos are everywhere.
But the fruit does not stop there, you also have great coconut and pineapples, no matter where you are in the Philippines, and this includes the big cities, bikes will ride around selling “fresh buko” AKA fresh coconut. An easy refreshing drink, which you can add sugar to, and eat the flesh from. Not exactly reinventing the wheel, but will keep hunger at bay.
Conclusion on Vegan Philippines?
OK, so the vegan scene in the Philippines is not great, and it is far from vegan friendly, but with a little prep, and a lot of flexibility, surviving as a vegan in the Philippines is more than doable.
I’m going to follow this up with the best vegan dishes from the Philippines (should not be that long article), but until then check out Happy Cow for some restaurants to tide the vegan traveler over in the Philippines.
Happy trails from the Street Food Guy