Phuket, and in fact, all of Thailand, can be a DREAM for vegetarian and vegan travellers, so it’s a must visit for a mouthwatering foodie holiday.
I always seem to pick areas of the world which are obsessed with seafood – a food challenge I willingly accept. A real perk to finding vegetarian food here in Phuket is that most locals do speak English – a luxury we must not forget when straying into less tourist-friendly areas of the globe. Additionally, Phuket is home to the annual Vegetarian Festival, so many are already familiar with adapting certain recipes for vegetarians. I was able to clearly state in English what we wanted and bar a few mishaps, we were understood and accommodated for. If you do find yourself in a bit of a language barrier pickle, though, here are some phrases to keep handy:
I do not eat fish – Mai kin pla
I do not eat meat – Mai kin nuay
I am vegan – Gin jay
There are a few other things you also should be aware of before ordering food in any region in South East Asia and beyond, not just Thailand, which I thought I’d highlight here. Although obvious to us, they must be stressed:
EVERYTHING POTENTIALLY CONTAINS FISH SAUCE
– Even if you say “I’m vegetarian/vegan”, you cannot guarantee that they won’t include fish sauce in the broth or through another cooking process. PLEASE make sure you are clear, and say specifically ‘no seafood, no fish sauce, no meat’ and if you are vegan – no egg (milk will rarely be used but you can also say if necessary). Seafood and fish are considered different, and therefore, might be ignored if not clearly stated.
CHECK YOUR FOOD THOROUGHLY BEFORE EATING
– We had three scares during our ten days in Phuket. The first was prawns in one of our soups – despite telling our waiter before sitting down our dietary requirements clearly, the second was ham in a 7-Eleven toastie we presumed veggie friendly, and our third was potential fish sauce in our Pad Thai, which turned out to be a false alarm. Nevertheless, make sure you check and they will gladly help if you feel there is a problem.
With those two crucial things in mind, keep reading to discover some truly gorgeous veggie and vegan food.
ABSOLUTE MANGO CAFE – KARON BEACH
OK, so the first stop on any trip to Phuket HAS to be mango and coconut sticky rice. Absolute Mango is a trendy café which not only serves fresh sticky rice, considered by many the best on the island, but also tropical smoothies and homemade ice cream.
ORIENT ASIA – KARON BEACH SQUARE
Karon Beach Square is a multi-restaurant complex with a variety of international cuisines and live music. Whilst doing my research, it seemed to be advertised as a hip place where tourists could go and enjoy a meal overlooking the beach front, but traveling during the wet season meant it was a lot quieter than anticipated. Where the food and service was concerned, this did nothing to alter our experience, but I did feel a little robbed of a lively evening out. Nonetheless, we ordered the green curry and garlic noodle stir fry, which was heavy on the salty mushroom sauce to replace the fish sauce.
BANANA PANCAKES – PHUKET STREET FOOD
Turn any corner and you’ll find a vendor frying these delights up! We recommend mango milk – which we ate too quickly and didn’t get a good snap of!
TWO CHEFS PATONG, KARON and KATA BEACH
The menu at Two Chefs is extensive and spans much further than just Thai/Asian fusion food. We simply had to go for pineapple fried rice, served, of course, in a pineapple bowl.
RED CHOPSTICKS PATONG, KARON and KATA BEACH
This was the place where we ran into our first potential disaster. After making it very clear before we even sat down that we were vegetarians and did not want any fish, seafood, fish sauce etc. one of our soups turned up with a load of prawns in. It’s a waste, of course, but these things happen. This is why I stressed earlier in the post to ensure you check your food, as the prawns were hidden in a bright red soup.
O-OH FARM CAFE – PHUKET TOWN, KARON and KATA BEACH
Whilst not exclusively vegan or vegetarian, many items on the menu were, including some Thai food options. We fancied something a bit different, so opted for the pesto spaghetti and sushi rolls.
DA MARIO ITALIAN – KARON BEACH
For those nights where a few beers and a pizza are required, look no further than De Mario’s Italian. Your non-veggie friends can tuck into Thai food or seafood, and yet again, like many menus on Karon beach front, had a variety of options to suit all tastes.
YO GREEN – PATONG BEACH
Located on one of the side streets of the busy Bangala Road, you’ll find Yo Green, possibly the BEST vegetarian Thai food we have ever had. Everything on the menu comes vegetarian as standard, but vegans can adapt pretty much anything they want. The mock meats’ texture is convincing and definitely adds something to the meal. At home, we use Quorn, tofu and other protein packed meat substitutes, so it was nice to dine somewhere that offered us that option as opposed to strictly vegetables or tofu. We went with pineapple fried rice again, satay skewers (my favourite thing in the world) and a stir fried veggies and tofu dish.
HIGHWAY CURRY – KARON
If you’re in Karon and do not visit this place, then you have simply missed out on one o the best curries you’ll ever eat. The vegetarian menu, pictured below, went on for pages and had some very unique options. Being a lover of paneer cheese, I was in my element.
COFFEE TALK – KARON/KATA BEACH
Between Karon and Kata beaches, along the main road is Coffee Talk and Sweet Talk, an incredibly cute coffee and dessert parlous serving up fresh coffee, juices and ice cream.
NEW YORK BURGER CO. – KATA BEACH
The Mac and Cheese burger here is the key item on the menu, with veggies and meat eaters alike tucking in.
ON THE ROCK – KARON BEACH
If you want to dine somewhere a little more upmarket with gorgeous views to match – then this is your place. The chefs were willing to make any curry, rice or noodle dish we wanted and replace meat with tofu and vegetables. It was our last night, so we went with the green and massaman curries, and watched the sunset over the beach, a truly memorable experience.
If you liked this article or have been somewhere else in Phuket that we did not, let us know!
For more rescourses on vegegarian and vegan dining all over Thailand, check the following blog posts!
KOH PHANGAN: Vomad – The Most Delicious Vegan Guide to Koh Phanga
CHIANG MAI: Mostly Amelie – The Complete Chiang Mai Vegan Food Guide
BANGKOK: Vegan Food Quest – Vegan Guide to Bangkok
BANGKOK: The Shooting Star – Vegan and Vegetarian food in Bangkok
The Veggie Passport