Thailand Food – Being Vegetarian In Thailand

For us, having the opportunity to travel around the world whenever we want is a blessing. And, we’re grateful that our online businesses allow us the freedom to do so. Yet, when it comes to traveling when you have dietary requirements, it can pose challenges.

So, after 6 years of full time travels, Paul and I have had the “fun” times of traveling as vegetarians. And, having been to Thailand many times… we’ve learnt some interesting things along the way about being vegetarian in Thailand.

So, you may think that it’s easy being a vego in Thailand. Yet, we’ve had some interesting experiences where things can get “lost in translation.”

And, while the main religion in Thailand is Buddhism, there are plenty more meat eaters here!

Thus, in this blog post… we want to share some tips and our experiences, about being vegetarian in Thailand. 

Some Key Words And Phrases

So, the word for vegetarian in Thailand is, “mangsawirat.” And, the pronunciation of this word is like, mung-saa-we-rat… where the “t” at the end is almost silent. Yet, if you say this the Thais will generally understand what you mean.

But, even though this means no meat at all… sometimes the Thais think that fish sauce, oyster sauce, and meat stock for soups, for example is OK. Yet, in the past we would point at their bottles of sauce, and indicate that we didn’t want fish sauce. 

Then, we learnt to say, “mai ow nam bplaa” for no fish sauce. And, we would say, “mai ow nam man hoy” for no oyster sauce.

And, we wouldn’t have soups for example, unless they were from a strictly vegetarian or vegan place.


Have some words or phrases written down in Thai on your phone or piece of paper… for important terms regarding your dietary requirements. 

So, to get these terms, search for them on sites like Google translate. Or even better, check out videos from the Thais. Then, you can see how the words are spelt, and hear how the words are pronounced. So, you can the learn and pronounce them before your trip!

Plus, you can show the Thais the words or phrases so they understand better.

Vegetarian Street Food In Thailand

So, one of the great things about exploring Thailand is the huge amounts of street food. It’s convenient, cheap and can be super scrumptious. Yet, a lot of the time the street food, is meat based. So, that’s a bummer!

Yet, there are Thai staples like lots of yummy fruits…

And, one of our most favorite fruits that we came across was jack fruit. OMG, the smell is like bubblegum and it tastes so divine. So, this is a must try when in Thailand, or in other parts of South East Asia. 

Plus, there are juices and smoothies…

And, for hot food there’s roti, for example…

So, you can get many variations including… with egg, fresh fruit, condensed milk, chocolate sauce, cheese, or even Nutella! Yet for us, we usually stick with the plain roti.

And, there’s also pad Thai, which many places will adjust for vegetarians…

Plus, we found that in many places where the stall owners would adjust the dish to make it vegetarian… they would reduce the price of the dish. So, that’s a bonus for being a vegetarian in Thailand! 

Now, during our travels through Thailand… we’d have to say that Chiang Mai had lots of vegetarian street food, that was easy to get. From steamed buns, to mushrooms or tofu skewers… to a variety of dumplings through to these humungous spring rolls!

Mmmmm… thinking about the veg food in Chiang Mai is mouth-watering. 

Restaurants In Thailand

So, there are many restaurants in Thailand that serve pure vegetarian and vegan food. And, there are other restaurants that have menus, with a dedicated vegetarian section. 

Yet, sometimes the vegetarian places weren’t convenient to where we were staying. And, that’s when we had to adapt.

But, when we’re in Thailand some of the tastiest dishes we’ve had on our travels are their curries. OMG, a good yellow or green curry full of flavor, and with a spiciness that could knock your socks off! How great are the Thai curries, right?

Plus, if you love your greens then there are heaps of choices. Yet, many of them have oyster sauce. So, make sure you check first… and they can cook without it or substitute it with soy sauce, for example.

Now, when it comes to staying in hotels and they serve buffet breakfasts… then this can be amazing or crap depending on the hotel.

So, when we had a buffet breakfast at the Ibis Styles Bangkok Sukhumvit 4… it was disappointing. And thankfully, we only paid $6 for the both of us! 

There wasn’t really much for us to eat, except for eggs, bread, fruit and salad! And, for a buffet breakfast having these constantly gets boring after a few plates.

To find out more about our breakfast experience, CLICK HERE.

Then, on the other hand, when we went to the 5 star hotel SO Sofitel Bangkok… it was a completely different experience. OK, a 3 star hotel versus a 5 star is clearly different. Yet, it was chock full of variety and options at the Red Oven breakfast buffet.

We could’ve stayed there for half the day with the amount of food on offer! So, check out our review of it HERE.

A Great Food Court In Bangkok

Now, if you’re traveling through Bangkok when in Thailand… then a food court to visit for vegetarians is in Terminal 21 shopping center in Asok.

Then, head up to level 5 to Pier 21 food court, where you buy a card like this with your funds on it…

So, there are plenty of places to check out. Yet, there’s one place that’s dedicated to vegetarian food.

And, for a ridiculously cheap 40 baht per plate, we had a serve of rice… then we could choose 3 dishes from a large range.

And, the food was tasty.

Being A Vegetarian In Thailand 

So, having vegetarian food in Thailand doesn’t mean that all you can eat is rice and noodles! And if that were the case, we wouldn’t be visiting Thailand much.

So, they key to making the most of the veg food in Thailand, is to learn a few key words and phrases. Or, make sure you have these words or phrases handy to show the Thais. Then, this will help make your food journey so much more fulfilling.

And, if you’re a budget conscious traveler… then generally being a vegetarian means the price of meals is less than a meat eater. Plus, many street food stall owners would charge us less for the vegetarian version of their traditional meat dish. So, that’s a BONUS!

So, depending on where you go, a plain roti can cost as little as 10 baht per piece (about 0.30 USD / Euros). Now, that’s crazy cheap! Then, a plate of pad Thai could be 30 baht. And, a delicious Thai curry could be 50 baht. 

And, these prices would also vary depending if you buy them on the street or in a restaurant.

Yet, whatever you decide to eat, enjoy trying all the different dishes. And, have a tasty time having vegetarian food in Thailand! 

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Note: All of our reviews and comments are our opinions and no-one else’s. Even if we receive complimentary goods or services we share our opinions honestly.

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