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  • Vegan Hawaii – Guide to Oahu

    Vegan Hawaii - Guide to Oahu

    Trav­elling as a ve­g­an can be tricky at times, es­-                                                    

  • -­pe­­cial­­ly when deal­ing with lan­guage bar­ri­ers, cul­­tu­r­al dif­fer­­ences and un­­known food in­­­gre­di­ents. To make things that lit­­tle bit eas­i­er for glo­be­trot­t­ing ve­g­ans we are pleased to pre­sent a se­ries of trav­el guides cov­­er­ing the ba­sics of get­t­ing good food around the world. Sasha James pre­sents the lat­est in our se­ries, the guide to ‘ono ve­g­an grinds’ (as the lo­cals re­fer to de­li­cious food) in Oahu, Hawaii

    I fell in love with Hawaii on my first trip. There’s some­thing sooth­ing and re­lax­ing about it: the trop­i­cal vibes take my stress-o-me­tre down from ten to one in a mat­ter of min­utes. I love it.

    Oahu is the most pop­u­lat­ed and com­mer­cial of the eight main is­lands (but don’t let this de­ter you), and is home to                                                    

  • the fa­mous Waiki­ki beach. There’s a lot to see, so you’ll nev­er be bored or short of ad­ven­tures.

    The Fab­u­lous Pho at Lov­ing Hut - Rice noo­dles, soy pro­tein, gluten and mush­rooms served with fresh basil and bean­sprouts

    Most re­cent­ly, I went to Oahu on my first holi­day as a ve­g­an. I was excit­ed to go and see what I could find. As I re­searched, I dis­cov­ered Hap­py Cow, which gave me a list of places to eat. I al­so found some fun blogs de­tail­ing ve­g­an ad­ven­tures. Luck­i­ly, ‘ve­g­an’ is a word eas­i­ly un­der­s­tood in Oahu, and, for those who don’t un­der­s­tand it, a love of read­ing la­bels and menus will hold you in good stead.


  • In Oahu there are two pure ve­g­an res­tau­rants, Lov­ing Hut (an eter­nal favou­rite around the globe), and the Peace Café which opened in May this year. Since th­ese are the on­ly pure­ly ve­g­an res­tau­rants, you will have to ask some ques­tions when eat­ing else­where; but in do­ing this you will un­cov­er the most de­li­cious sur­pris­es.

    I went along with a bunch of non-ve­g­an friends on this trip, and the truth is I didn’t find it dif­fi­cult to eat with them, even though there is a meat and fish (dairy and eg­gs be­ing a hid­den in­gre­di­ent) eat­ing cul­ture in Oahu. An ex­am­ple of this is the tra­di­tio­n­al Lu­aus—which I didn’t par­ti­ci­pate in­—where they roast a pig in her en­tire­ty. This breaks my heart. And, on an ad­ven­ture through Chi­na town, I saw a now-life­less sow be­ing wheeled through the streets. But whilst the Hawaiian cul­ture                                                    

  • Diamond Head Lookout, Oahu

    Sasha at the top of the Di­a­mond Head look­out at sun­rise, an hour-long hike up a steep path­way!

    doesn’t em­brace a di­et of plant-based foods, en­cour­ag­ing­ly I found that they do have many plant-based op­tions.


  • When I ar­rived in Hon­olu­lu, I went along Ala Moa­na Boul­e­vard to my favou­rite Mex­i­can res­tau­rant, Wa­hoo Fish Ta­cos, and, while you can tell from the name it isn’t ve­g­an, it has a de­li­cious black bean and rice sal­ad com­bo that you can make up from their ‘side­kicks’ menu. There is al­so a ve­g­an veg­gie bowl. I al­ways re­c­om­mend you ask them if their beans and veg­gies are cooked in but­ter; in this case they aren’t.

    For break­fasts, I found my way up Kuhio Av­enue to Ruffage Na­t­u­ral Foods, which is al­so a su­per­mar­ket with loads of ve­g­an-friend­ly treats you can take back to your ho­tel room. My favou­rite cooked break­fast on this trip was a mind-blow­ing to­fu scram­ble. I al­so stocked up on Al­mond Breeze, which I can on­ly hope will one day be avai­l­able in Aus­tralia. Al­mond milk is de­li­cious on peanut                                                    

  • Hotel room breakfasts!

    Ho­tel room break­fasts!

    but­ter puffins’ ce­re­al and shredd­ed wheat. It’s al­so great with ba­na­na and peanut but­ter smoothies—a theme is be­gin­n­ing to de­vel­op!

    The Ala Moa­na Cen­tre has loads of cheap ve­g­an op­tions. The Food­works su­per­mar­ket down­s­tairs has a sal­ad bar from which you can cre­ate a five-dol­lar sal­ad, with rice, beans and gua­ca­mole. Vim and Vi­g­or on the                                                    

  • ground floor has ve­g­an mu­su­bi, a warm sushi-like rice bite. Fi­nal­ly, there is the Crack Seed Cen­tre, where you can get the most amaz­ing pre­served fruit and nuts, a must for the cu­ri­ous ve­g­an.

    Through­out the day you can catch com­muter bus­es that go around the is­land, and you can ran­dom­ly get off and walk along the beach­es. Fresh trop­i­cal fruit is avai­l­able ev­ery­where. I snacked on man­goes, pa­paya and pineap­ple slices through­out my trip. Ve­g­an smoothies and juices are as read­i­ly avai­l­able, so it’s not dif­fi­cult to get what you need.

    For lunch­es, I found beans and rice, to­fu wraps and sand­wich­es. Down to Earth, a health food store with sev­er­al is­land lo­ca­tions has a deli on-site with loads of ve­g­an op­tions. Here I munched on ve­g­an bur­ri­tos and hot                                                    

  • It's a hard life

    sand­wich­es. The sweets de­part­ment wasn’t too bad ei­ther: it was here that I dis­cov­ered dark cho­co­late coat­ed ca­cao nibs. There’s al­so Gen­ki Sushi, which has a num­ber of ve­g­an                                                    

  • op­tions, in­clud­ing sushi rice, veg­gie sushi, eda­mame, age­dashi to­fu (no boni­to flakes—spe­cial or­der), which are filling and de­li­cious.

    In the ’burbs of Hon­olu­lu, there is Whole­foods Ka­ha­la, which has lots of ve­g­an quick bites, as well as ve­g­an make-up, and beau­ty prod­ucts ga­lore (I was in ve­g­an heav­en). Thanks to my friend La­gus­ta, I found Su­per Pho, the most amaz­ing pho noo­dle res­tau­rant ev­er! It was tricky to get to, but worth the trek. On another day, I caught a bus with one of my friends to Kailua, which is on the trade winds side of the is­land, to sneak on­to a pri­vate beach; and at The Source we found de­li­cious ve­g­an sand­wich­es.

    In Waiki­ki at night there are a bunch of Ja­pa­nese hole-in-the-wall cafes, as well as my favou­rite Oahu res­tau-                                                    

  • Taberu Koto at Hale

    Taberu ko­to at Hale, and a close up of the de­li­cious Teriya­ki tem­peh with lo­tus root

    -­rant, Hale. Here the ve­g­an and the mac­ro­bi­ot­ic lifestyle col­lide. While it’s not ex­clu­sive­ly ve­g­an, most of the dish­es are. I have to say that I ate there many times. I could rare­ly go past the teriya­ki tem­peh with lo­tus root,                                                    

  • and the TLT (tem­peh, let­tuce and to­ma­to). Th­ese dish­es were like noth­ing I have ev­er eat­en be­fore, and all my friends were made to have din­n­er there. They loved it! On the dessert menu were brownies that melt­ed in your mouth, and the cho­co­late mousse … mmm, words can’t de­scribe how yum­my they were!

    There are many other ve­g­an-friend­ly res­tau­rants, cafes and hole-in-the-walls to check out on the is­land, so make sure you stop by Hap­py Cow for the lat­est de­tails. I hope this snap­shot of Oahu makes your de­ci­sion for a ve­g­an trop­i­cal get­away easi­er to make. I know it won’t be the last time that I’ll be drink­ing from a co­conut on one of its gor­geous beach­es.

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  • Las Vegan Bakery

    A Colling­wood in­sti­tu­tion, Las Ve­g­an Bak­ery is si­t­u­at­ed on Smith Street (up the Gertrude Street end), nes­tled in a quirky shop­ping strip that hosts a range of eclec­tic te­nants in­clud­ing a gallery, tat­too par­lour, art store and bou­tique pub. Las Ve­g­an is a quirky café with a re­laxed vibe that boasts funky fur­ni­ture, great mu­sic and of course de­li­cious food.

    Renowned for their rice balls, which come served with dece­dent sa­tay sauce, bean shoots and a tas­ty sal­ad mix Las Ve­g­an cuts no corn­ers. Most im­pres­sive is the use of fresh herbs, which make the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence es­pe­cial­ly me­m­orable. Tru­ly, Las Ve­g­an is an ex­ten­sion of my own kitchen, I am known for go­ing at least twice a                                                    

  • Las Vegan Bakery

    'Chick­en' Sch­nitzel with hand cut or­gan­ic chips at Las Ve­g­an Bak­ery

    week, most re­cent­ly with my in-laws, who thor­ough­ly en­joyed the ex­pe­ri­ence.


  • The menu caters for a range of tastes, from health­ful soup, chil­li ‘non’ carne, cal­zones (lunch on­ly), slop­py joes and len­til burg­ers to the faux chick­en burg­er or nuggets, deep fried tem­peh and to­fu and the faux chick­en burg­er, all of which can be en­joyed whilst sip­ping on a Hen­ry of Har­court cider.

    Savoury de­lights are not where it ends ei­ther, Michael bakes the most in­cred­i­ble muffins, brownies and cakes. So, if you have room at the end of your meal, which is high­ly un­like­ly with their gener­ous serv­ings, you may be able to fit one in with your bot­tom­less chai.

    Open from 11am Tues­day through Fri­day, and un­til 9pm on Thurs­day and Fri­day nights (with Wed­nes­day on the cards too), Las Ve­g­an is a great place to get a bite to eat with friends,


  • Las Ve­g­an Bak­ery is lo­cat­ed at 22 Smith Street, Colling­wood, Vic­to­ria and can be reached for book­ings on (03) 9415 9001

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  • Vegie Hut – Faux Meat Heaven

    From Pek­ing duck, le­mon chick­en and cur­ried lamb to mor­ish yum cha treats such as prawn toast, dum­plings and pork skew­ers, Vegie Hut is an im­i­ta­tion meat lover’s paradise. Lo­cat­ed in the heart of Box Hill, Vic­to­ria, Vegie Hut is a small res­tau­rant serv­ing au­then­tic Bud­d­hist veg­e­tarian dish­es. It is well worth the hike for any­one who is game enough for a fun, in­ter­est­ing and unique din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

    Vegie Hut serves up a range of scar­i­ly re­al plant based meat dish­es, it is amaz­ing how genuine some of the meat looks. The flavours and tex­tures are from na­t­u­ral in­gre­di­ents such as gluten, soya bean, mush­room, yam and spices. When you are scan­n­ing through the menu you                                                    

  • Vegie Hut Vegetarian Restaurant in Box Hill

    Some of the yum cha op­tions at Vegie Hut

    are like­ly to be excit­ed yet over­whelmed by the large se-                                                    

  • -­lec­tion of tra­di­tio­n­al Chi­nese dish­es rei­magined in ve­g­an form.

    I de­cid­ed to take my skep­ti­cal om­ni­vore fam­i­ly to Vegie Hut for yum cha. Yum cha is on­ly avai­l­able on Sun­days with the op­tions of or­der­ing from the lunch menu and other larg­er menu which is avai­l­able all week. There are about 30 yum cha se­lec­tions if you in­clude the en­trees. My fam­i­ly mem­bers were hap­pi­ly im­pressed. Af­ter eat­ing ev­ery morsel of the se­lec­tion of crisp skinned moist prawn rolls, thick and jui­cy tex­tured ribs, smokey fla­vored pork in a bun, deep fried de­light­ful crunchy chick­en nuggets, slight­ly sticky yet full of fla­vor sticky rice and much more, they were ea­ger to try dairy free desserts. The caramel-coloured su­gary glaze on fried ba­na­na, soy ice cream and sa­go pud­d­ing was a per­fect way to end                                                    

  • the meal.

    Sago pudding and banana fritter desserts with soya ice cream

    Sa­go pud­d­ing and ba­na­na frit­ter desserts with soya ice cream


  • Vegie Hut yum cha

    There was so much food we al­most need­ed a he­li­copter for this ae­rial view

    Vegie Hut is a bril­liant place to try, re­gard­less of your di-                                                    

  • -­e­tary choic­es. If you are af­ter take away, a ca­su­al sit down meal or want­ing to cele­brate a spe­cial event, Vegie Hut caters for all. It is wise to book as the place is usu­al­ly packed, es­pe­cial­ly on week­ends. For tas­ty and af­ford­able food, you re­al­ly can’t go wrong at Vegie Hut.

    Vegie Hut is lo­cat­ed at 984 White­horse Road, Box Hill, Vic­to­ria and can be reached for book­ings on (03) 9898 2287

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  • Monk Bodhi Dharma Review

    I first came across Monk Bod­hi Dhar­ma while tak­ing a                                                    

  • short­cut down a de­sert­ed al­ley­way in St Kil­da past a small in­dus­trial car park. I re­mem­ber think­ing what an un­for­tu­nate lo­ca­tion for a cafe, and gave them maybe a cou­ple months be­fore they went out of busi­ness. Some­thing about the cafe stuck in my mind, and a few weeks lat­er on a whim I goo­gled them and was sur­prised to learn that MBD was a veg­e­tarian and ve­g­an friend­ly cafe, spe­cial­is­ing in cof­fee and ‘heal­ing veg­e­tarian food.’

    With thoughts of help­ing out a strug­gling lit­tle veg­e­tarian eatery I set out with some eat­ing com­panions, half fear­ing that the al­ley­way cafe would have al­ready gone out of busi­ness. When we stepped in­to the cosy world of Monk Bod­hi Dhar­ma, our fears were more than un­jus­ti­fied. The place was packed. There wasn’t a spare seat avai­l­able and a num­ber of peo­ple were sip­ping cof­fee at                                                    

  • the coun­ter, wait­ing to be seat­ed.

    We soon dis­cov­ered why. MBD has an all day break­fast menu as well as dai­ly soup and stew spe­cials. All of the spe­cials of the day were ve­g­an as was most of the break­fast menu (a few dish­es with fe­ta could be eas­i­ly ve­g­an-ised). We drank hot cho­co­lates and “Huil­la”, a sweet toned colum­bian cof­fee, and for lunch or­dered Av­o­ca­do on Sour­dough and North Afri­can Ra­ta­touille and Date Stew.

    I wasn’t ex­pect­ing much from a hear­ty stew but end­ed the meal want­ing to go in­to the kitchen to hug the chef.

    The Av­o­ca­do on Sour­dough, with herbs and a splash of le­mon, was solid­ly tas­ty. The Stew, served with cous                                                    

  • cous, was amaz­ing. I wasn’t ex­pect­ing much from a hear­ty stew but end­ed the meal want­ing to go in­to the kitchen to hug the chef. We shall defi­nite­ly be back to try dish­es like the In­dian-creamy-pump­kin-man­soor-dhal-co­conut-man­go-soup (which should be sub­ti­tled ‘more than a mouth­ful’), Pump­kin gu­jerati soup, and Ja­mai­can sweet po­ta­to, red kid­ney bean and co­conut stew. Yum.

    De­spite be­ing rushed off their feet, the staff were friend­ly and very help­ful. The al­ley­way cafe seats around twen­ty in a cosy at­mo­sphere with woo­d­en fitt­ings, dis­tressed brick walls, and for the cof­fee nerds, an im­pres­sive ar­ray of cof­fee mak­ing ap­para­tus­es.

    Monk Bod­hi Dhar­ma is hid­den away at the rear of 202 Carlisle Street, Bal­a­cla­va in Vic­to­ria and can be reached on (03) 9534 7250.  To get there off Carlisle Street,                                                    

  • head down the al­ley­way next to the Safe­way load­ing dock.

    If you are trav­elling from a dis­tance MBD is around the corn­er and down the street from Rishon (17 Wil­li­am Street, Bal­a­cla­va), the Jew­ish gro­cery store that is a won­der­land of ve­g­an goods, and Al­pha, the ve­g­an cho­co­late fac­to­ry (23 Wil­li­am Street, Bal­a­cla­va). Defi­nite­ly worth a com­bined vis­it.

    Up­date: Monk Bod­hi Dhar­ma are now of­fer­ing a range of de­li­cious ve­g­an cookies, muffins and cup­cakes!

  • Vegan Cupcakes

    Some of the ve­g­an cup­cakes on of­fer at Monk Bod­hi Dhar­ma

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  • Vegan Thailand

    vegan thailand


  • Trav­elling as a ve­g­an can be tricky at times, es­pe­cial­ly when deal­ing with lan­guage bar­ri­ers, cul­tu­r­al dif­fer­ences and un­known food in­gre­di­ents. To make things that lit­tle bit easi­er for glo­be­trott­ing ve­g­ans we are pleased to pre­sent a se­ries of trav­el guides cov­er­ing the ba­sics of gett­ing good food around the world, start­ing with this look at the land of smiles and ele­phants, Thai­land.

    Ve­g­an Thai­land- How to say that you’re ve­g­an.
    The Thai word for veganLuck­i­ly the Thai have a word for ve­g­an, more or less. “Jay” means strict veg­e­tarian, no meat, dairy or egg (though you may in­ad­ver­tent­ly de­ny your­self onion, gar­lic or beer when an­nounc­ing this). The word is writ­ten:

    To say I eat ve­g­an food use the phrase ‘chan gin jay’ if                                                    

  • you’re a fe­male or ‘pom gin jay’ if you’re a male. There is al­so a word for veg­e­tarian “mang sa wee rat” which can be use­ful in some ar­eas of the north where the term jay may not be recog­nised, which you can sup­ple­ment with ‘chan/pom mai gin kai/aa-haan tee tam jaak nom’ which means ‘I don’t eat eg­gs/dairy prod­ucts’. There is a use­ful pro­nun­ci­a­tion guide with au­dio here.

    Places to eat
    This guide will fo­cus on three of the most visit­ed ar­eas in Thai­land – Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. We’ll look at some of the best veg­e­tarian res­tau­rants as well as things to do and traps to avoid, es­pe­cial­ly with re­gards to ac­tiv­i­ties that may in­volve the ex­ploi­ta­tion of an­i­mals.

    The king­dom’s cap­i­tal has much to of­fer for the hun­gry                                                    

  • ve­g­an, with many veg­gie res­tau­rants lo­cat­ed around the Khao San road area. One of the first places to head in Bangkok is Ethos (be­hind the Burg­er King at the Ta­nao Road end).

    You can lounge in Ethos for hours on the com­fy floor cushions, sip­ping cof­fee and en­joy­ing the free wi fi. There is a wide se­lec­tion of dish­es from both east and west, rang­ing from ve­g­an lasagne and ‘meat’ ball spaghet­ti to Pad Thai and Tom Yum soup, for dessert the ve­g­an op­tion is cho­co­late cake with co­conut cream.

    A few doors down on each side are a cou­ple of Mai Kaidee res­tau­rants, which are great for grab­bing a quick take away af­ter a meal at Ethos (where the at­mo­sphere is a lit­tle nicer). Some de­li­cious meals in­clude the pump­kin hom­mus, the pa­paya sal­ad, and deep fried sea­weed                                                    

  • Ethos is an essential stop for vegans in Thailand

    Ethos. Yum.

    with chil­li man­go sauce. Mai Kaidee al­so of­fers dai­ly veg-                                                    

  • -­e­tarian and ve­g­an cook­ing class­es.

    We had heard great things about An­o­tai, but had al­so been warned that it would be hard to find. An­o­tai is lo­cat­ed at 976/17 Soi Ra­ma 9 Hos­pi­tal in the Huay Kwang dis­trict, about twen­ty min­utes or so by taxi from cen­tral Bangkok (in good traff­ic. In bad traff­ic bring a book!). The Hap­py Cow web­site has de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on how to get there.

    The staff don’t speak much En­glish but menus are bilin­gual and with a bit of pom mai this and pom mai that we were able to work out what was ve­g­an eas­i­ly enough. We or­dered sev­er­al exquisite­ly pre­sent­ed en­trees, tem­peh tem­pu­ra with sweet and sour dip, nori wrapped to­fu with was­abi dip and the Spi­cy to­fu and ci­lan­tro dip. The menu al­so has an ex­ten­sive Italian sec­tion, fea­tur­ing                                                    

  • Anotai

    The nori to­fu and tem­peh tem­pu­ra at An­o­tai

    dish­es like spaghet­ti with as­para­gus and mus­tard white                                                    

  • wine sauce. The food was exquisite and defi­nite­ly worth the trip. If you want to tell the chef how much you loved the food, the phrase is ‘a roi’.

    Th­ese are just a few of the many res­tau­rants serv­ing good ve­g­an food in the Thai cap­i­tal. Hap­py Cow con­tains an ex­ten­sive list of many more veg­e­tarian op­tions in and around Bangkok.

    Chiang Mai
    Chiang Mai in the north is re­al­ly the mec­ca of all things ve­g­an in Thai­land. You can walk al­most any­where you want to go and the few places you can’t are a short tuk tuk ride away. Ac­cord­ing to lo­cals there are over 100 veg­e­tarian res­tau­rants in Chiang Mai.

    Our first stop was Taste from Heav­en, a spa­cious air                                                    

  • con­di­tioned veg­e­tarian res­tau­rant where a por­tion of the pro­f­its go to sup­port Ele­phant Na­ture Park, a sanc­tuary for res­cued ele­phants (more on this be­low). Some high­lights were the Tom Yum served in co­conut, the Pump­kin cur­ry and the Crispy Morn­ing Glo­ry, there are al­so a num­ber of west­ern dish­es on the menu like the to­fu burg­er and fries, and sev­er­al spaghet­ti vari­a­tions.

    Taste from Heav­en of­fer dai­ly cook­ing class­es in small groups of around four peo­ple, where you can choose any dish­es from the menu (even the non ve­g­an dish­es can be ve­g­anised). We signed up and de­spite be­ing the world’s worst cooks, spent sev­er­al hours un­der the tute­lage of pa­tient head chef Nan grind­ing our own cur­ry pastes, learn­ing about lo­cal in­gre­di­ents, dis­cov­er­ing how to open a co­conut with a machete, and plat­ing a table                                                    

  • Taste from Heaven Vegan Chiang Mai cooking class

    The post cook­ing class feast

    full of de­li­cious meals. At the end of it we were able to                                                    

  • feast on our cre­a­tions and bag the rest for take­away.

    Khun Churn, lo­cat­ed at Nim­man­hemin Soi 17, is the on­ly res­tau­rant men­tioned here that in­volves any trav­el, though it’s on­ly a ten minute tuk tuk trip. Set in a tran­quil out­doors court­yard, for around two or three Aus­tralian dol­lars you can reload your plate as many times as you like from the huge lunch buf­fet of fresh cur­ries, noo­dles, soups, sal­ads, desserts and drinks. If none of this sat­is­fies, you can al­so or­der from the menu which fea­tures North­ern Thai dish­es like the Khao Soi. The staff there didn’t speak much En­glish so it may take a bit of ef­fort to work out what’s ve­g­an and what’s not, but it’s defi­nite­ly worth the ef­fort (there is al­so a Khun Churn in Bangkok, which if it’s any­where as good as the Chiang Mai res­tau­rant, is well worth a vis­it).


  • Khun Churn vegetarian Chian Mai

    The bot­tom­less plate at Khun Churn

    Like many of the veg­e­tarian res­tau­rants in Chiang Mai,                                                    

  • we stum­bled up­on Jui­cy4U at 5 Ratcha­man­ka Road by ac­ci­dent while walk­ing around town. The colour­ful cafe spe­cialis­es in smoothies and de­sign your own sand­wich­es (just tick off the in­gre­di­ents you want on a sheet of pa­per). Jui­cy4U al­so do a ‘full mon­ty’ break­fast with veg­gie sausage, to­ma­to, baked beans, mush­rooms and toast.

    Free Bird Cafe is a non pro­f­it cafe that rais­es funds for Hill­tribe (many of the in­dige­nous Hill Tribes are not giv­en the same rights as the Thai peo­ple) and refugee fam­i­lies. We had tas­ty eg­g­plant and hom­mus sand­wich­es un­der um­brel­las in the out­door cob­bled path gar­den cafe. Ap­par­ent­ly they are now selling peace cheese, a ve­g­an pis­ta­chio based cheese. There is al­so a Chiang Mai Mai Kaidees which serves up the same de­li­cious                                                    

  • fares as the Bangkok coun­ter­parts.

    No re­view of ve­g­an food in Chiang Mai would be com­plete with­out men­tion­ing the Chiang Mai veg­e­tarian so­ci­e­ty. Lo­cat­ed just out­side the ci­ty walls at 42 Mahi­dol Road, the non pro­f­it din­ing hall pro­vides sim­ple fare like cur­ries and fried to­fu along with greens and rice or noo­dles. We were told the food would be ridicu­lous­ly cheap, even by Chiang Mai stan­dards, but we couldn’t tell for sure since both times we were there it was some­body’s birth­day and all the food was free, all they asked was that you do your dish­es on the way out.

    Ele­phant Na­ture Park
    If you’re in Chiang Mai a vis­it to Ele­phant Na­ture Park, an hours drive out of town, is es­sen­tial. Nes­tled in a lush green val­ley, Ele­phant Na­ture Park is a sanc­tuary for                                                    

  • res­cued ele­phants from all over Thai­land. You can vis­it for a day or overnight, or vol­un­teer for a week or more. We stayed for a week and wished it was longer.

    Many vis­i­tors to Thai­land go on ele­phant treks, un­aware of the great cru­el­ty in­volved be­hind the scenes. Ele­phants in the Thai trekk­ing in­dus­try are typ­i­cal­ly ‘bro­ken’ us­ing the prac­tice of phaa jaan, which in­volves chain­ing the young ele­phant so that they are un­able to move, and then lit­er­al­ly beat­ing and jab­bing them with nail end­ed spears over a pe­ri­od of days un­til their spir­it is com­plete­ly bro­ken. You can view video of this heart­break­ing prac­tice here. Any tourist who goes for an ‘ele­phant ride’ is un­know­ing­ly sup­port­ing the cont­in­u­a­tion of this an­i­mal abuse.

    The res­cued ele­phants at the sanc­tuary have sur­vived                                                    

  • Elephant Nature Park

    Lit­tle Pha Mai hugs one of the vol­un­teers

    work­ing in the trekk­ing in­dus­try, street beg­ging and il­le-                                                    

  • -­gal log­ging. They have sur­vived hav­ing feet blown off by land­mines and eyes gouged out by an­gry ‘own­ers’ be­cause they were not work­ing hard enough. Now thanks to the Ele­phant Na­ture Park they are about to live out the rest of their lives in peace.

    Vol­un­teer­ing at the sanc­tuary in­volves ac­tiv­i­ties as varied as bathing and feed­ing the ele­phants, har­vest­ing truck­loads of corn with machetes, and ba­si­cal­ly help­ing out with what­ev­er needs do­ing. Even if you don’t like ele­phants (joke! Who doesn’t like ele­phants?) it’s worth go­ing for the food alone. Each day a huge de­li­cious spread of North­ern Thai food and an as­sort­ment of hot chips, vege sausages, springs rolls and so forth is laid out. Un­for­tu­nate­ly there is some meat served but 90% of the food is ve­g­an, and all the non-ve­g­an foods were al­ways                                                    

  • Elephants at Elephant Nature Park

    Run­n­ing free at Ele­phant Na­ture Park

    point­ed out to us by the kitchen.


  • Phuket
    Com­pared to Chiang Mai, Phuket is a big is­land, rel­a­tive­ly ex­pen­sive to get around, and doesn’t of­fer that much for the ve­g­an. The one mas­sive ex­cep­tion is the an­nu­al Veg­e­tarian Fes­ti­val, which is the largest veg­e­tarian fes­ti­val in the world. For nine days each year it is cele­brat­ed around Thai­land, but in par­tic­u­lar on Phuket Is­land.

    The fes­ti­val is rather bizarre, with the most notable fea­ture be­ing dai­ly pa­rades of devo­tees self mu­ti­lat­ing in in­ven­tive­ly grue­some ways to ‘in­voke the gods’, in­clud­ing hot coal walk­ing, tongue chop­ping and ex­treme face skew­er­ing. What any of this has to do with veg­e­tarian­ism we nev­er did work out, but it was fas­ci­nat­ing to watch nonethe­less.

    Dur­ing the fes­ti­val street ven­dors serve up all ve­g­an                                                    

  • Phuket Vegetarian Festival

    food. You can walk down the street and safe­ly eat any­thing with­out con­cern. Al­though deep fried to­fu, deep fried mock meat or any­thing else it is pos­si­ble to deep                                                    

  • fry, was the over­rid­ing theme – quick­ly turn­ing us in­to hu­man grease traps. The cer­e­monies cen­tre around Phuket Town but the whole is­land is in on the fes­tiv­i­ties, even the 7-Elevens were cov­ered in ‘jay’ signs, with jay food clear­ly la­belled.

    Out­side of the fes­ti­val, there are a hand­ful of veg­e­tarian res­tau­rants on Phuket. Those we visit­ed were large­ly un­me­m­orable din­ing hall style Chi­nese mock meat cafes. Pa­tong is the most renowned beach area in Phuket, but you should pack a lunch as there are no veg­e­tarian res­tau­rants. And if see­ing sex tourists, lizards on leash­es and stall af­ter stall of fake Guc­ci bags (at least they’re prob­a­b­ly non leather) is not your thing, there are many other beach­es to vis­it.

    Sev­er­al times we were ap­proached by peo­ple with gib-                                                    

  • Phuket Vegetarian Festival

    This street went on for about a kilome­ter and was full of street stalls serv­ing com­plete­ly ve­g­an food

    -­bons of­fer­ing to take our pho­to in exchange for mon­ey.                                                    

  • This is al­ways a bad idea. Gib­bons are tak­en from the wild and ex­ploit­ed as tourist at­trac­tions, in or­der to get the ba­by gib­bon the poach­ers have to kill the par­ents (and of­ten the ba­bies are killed as they fall from the canopy). It is il­le­gal to have a gib­bon in cap­tiv­i­ty so if you see this hap­pen­ing please let the po­lice know.

    There you have it, a be­gin­n­ers guide to Ve­g­an Thai­land. If you come across any out of date in­for­ma­tion, know of a great place we’ve missed, or have any use­ful tips, let us know in the com­ments. Sawatdee!

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