Vietnam vegan cuisines represent the special Buddhist culture in Vietnam.Did you know that January is the most popular month to go Vegan? With Will.I.Am and Lewis Hamilton being amongst the many people joining ‘V.gang’ in 2017, it’s now time to see what all the fuss is about! Let’s explore vast and unique vegan food in Vietnam!
1. Vietnam Vegan Cuisines Introduction
Vegan food in Vietnam changes as you travel from North to South. It is a long country, in the south, you will find that the food is much sweeter. Whereas, in Hue, they enjoy more spice in their meals. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or just a foodie, there is a huge variety of unique vegan Vietnamese dishes you can experience. All you need to know is what they are and where to find them!
Here’s the interesting part, Vietnam’s main religion is Buddhism, which believes that people shouldn’t eat anything from the animals. Around Vietnam, you will find vegan restaurants which are fully dedicated to people who eat like Buddhists i.e. vegans. This is one of the many reasons why eating vegan food in Vietnam is so easy.
How to tell people you are Vegan in Vietnamese? In many languages, there is no specific word to describe that you don’t eat any animal products. However, here is the good part, you can say “An Chay” (make sure you pronounce it correctly – an chaigh). It means you eat vegetarian the same way as Vietnamese Buddhists do – which is often Vegan. Keep reading to find out the best, traditional, as well as unique vegan food in Vietnam!
2. Nem ran – Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls
Crispy spring rolls, Vietnamese rice paper rolls, tofu spring rolls, fresh vegetable spring rolls – there is a wide variety for you to try! Many variations have been developed. As long as you are in a vegetarian place you will be safe to know that the spring rolls you order are vegan!
But that’s not all, oftentimes they are served with a delicious Vietnamese peanut sauce. This sauce really manages to transform the taste and make it unique to Vietnam.
Learn how to make your own rice paper rolls by joining THIS tour.
3. Rau Muong xao nam – Morning Glory with mushrooms
If you are new to Asian food then you must be wondering, what’s this?
That was me when I first arrived in Vietnam. Let me explain, morning glory is a plant that grows in water or damp soil. It’s from the same family as water spinach. This simple and cheap vegetable is quite popular amongst Vietnamese locals and usually served as a side dish. This is a Vietnamese must-try when eating vegan food in Vietnam. It’s healthy, cheap and simple!
4. Banh loc & Banh nam- Dumplings wrapped in a Banana Leaf
A first-time traveler to Vietnam will appreciate the special local food experience of opening a banana leaf to find a sticky, transparent dumpling inside!
There are 2 main variations which you should know about. Banh loc is a clear and sticky dumpling wrapped in banana leaf. Whereas Banh Nam, on the other hand, is a white rice flour cake also wrapped inside the leaf. The filling will be usually mushrooms, carrot, and tofu. I encourage you to try this unique vegan food while traveling in Vietnam.
5. Lau chay – Vegan Hot Pot
Lau (pronounced low) is probably the best dinner party dish you can enjoy during winter!
It is a simmering soup stock in the middle of the table, served with vegetables, mushrooms, and pre-cooked rice noodles. In my experience, each restaurant makes it a little different. Sometimes they will add pineapple for extra taste! When you visit a restaurant, the waiter brings the hot pot so you can cook with your friends and family in the middle of the table. Vietnamese culture, especially in Hue city, enjoys this very popular vegan dish every day. If you like soup, this vegan food in Vietnam will take it to the next level for you! It’s a must-try if you want to experience real Vietnamese food culture.
6. Banh beo – Hue rice cake
Banh Beo is originally from Hue city, however, now it can be found in other cities around Vietnam. This small steamed rice cake is white in color and with a dimple in the middle. The soft cake is served as a side dish with a savory filling inside, usually green bean, and spring onions.
7. Che – Sweet Soup
I can almost hear you thinking, “What on earth is a sweet soup?”
Chè is vegan street food in Vietnam, for the people who enjoy sweet things in life! A convenient and interesting sweet treat, with a refreshing mixture of fruits, beans, and jellies. If you want to try unique vegan food in Vietnam, this is the one to go for. It might take a while to get used to the idea of beans or potatoes being served in a sweet dish, but once you try it you will understand why this unique combination works so well.
The best part is that it’s easily accessible, so as a vegan, you can enjoy this all around Vietnam. You will usually see Vietnamese women on street sidewalks, serving many different flavors in big pots. Some of my favorite flavors are banana, coconut, and red bean. Furthermore, they will add ice, as well as peanuts on top for a more crunchy taste. Chè sweet soup is a must-try when you are in Vietnam, enjoy this treat while sitting on ‘kid chairs’ and feel like a real Vietnamese local.
8. Khuon dau sot ca Chua – Fried Tofu with Tomato
This one is my personal favorite. Ever since moving to Vietnam, I have gained an appreciation and a taste for tofu.
In Western countries, people do not consider tofu as part of their daily diet, but here’s the thing, they don’t know how to cook it properly for a good taste. Tofu in Vietnam is exceptional! Visiting different vegetarian restaurants, you will see it in soups, cakes, salads, and you can order tofu on its own. It’s not easy to make, but Vietnamese have mastered it for sure!
9. Vegan Pho
Don’t miss the Pho! One of the most famous and well-known vegan food in Vietnam and around the world is Vietnamese noodle soup called Pho.
It’s packed with fresh herbs, rice noodles, vegetables, and (of course) tofu. This steaming and fragrant bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup is a great healthy and satisfying option. Usually, it will come with a side of herbs and spices which you can add by yourself to adjust the taste. Pho is a perfect soup for eating during cooler weather, especially in the North of Vietnam. The Pho vegan soup is now available all over the world, so when you are in Vietnam it would be a shame not to try the real and authentic Vietnamese taste
10. Goi thap cam – Vietnamese combo salad
Here’s something everyone can agree on, when you hear the word salad, it’s not as exciting as other cuisines. But hear me out, the mixture of ingredients, color combination, and vibrant taste makes this salad unique.
Depending on the restaurant, some will serve this Vietnamese vegan dish with crispy spring rolls and ‘Cha Lua Chay’ – which is a vegetarian ham with a different and unique taste. Plus, when you are unsure of what to order, you can always count on this one as a safe, vegan, and delicious option. My recommendation when traveling to Hue is to visit a beautiful, fully vegan, riverside restaurant called Nhà Hàng Cơm Chay Bồ Đề, which has the best Gỏi thập cẩm.
Here you have it! Those are my top 10 Vegan dishes you need to try in Vietnam. Hopefully, this article gave you the inspiration to try Vegan food in Vietnam. The bottom line is, there’ll always be something vegan to eat in Vietnam, and more often than not, it tastes pretty good.
If you enjoyed reading this article, and you would love to try unique vegan food in Vietnam, we recommend our vegan tours available in Hue or book a tour via VM Travel. We will show you the best, hidden places for vegan food in Vietnam!