It’s always amazing to know about small paradises that you don’t imagine being vegan-friendly and that will surprise you
Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city hundreds of miles away from the beaches Thailand is known for. Chiang Mai is a thriving city in the north inhabited by a large number of expats. The draw cards to long term stays in Chiang Mai are: yoga, meditation, surrounding nature, the local smiles, cost of living and of course the local food!
While the majority of Thais eat meat as a staple in every meal, you will find a higher proportion of vegetarian/vegan restaurants compared to most cities worldwide. While this is great, I find it important to eat at non-vegetarian places to encourage them to increase their vegan options. These are the restaurants that are uneducated about veganism at all.
While the options are somewhat repetitive at these restaurants, here are a few Thai meals they can make vegan easily and I eat at least three times a week.
1. Vegetable Fried Rice
There is no shortage of rice fields in Thailand so it is eaten daily. The go to off options are of course chicken and shrimp fried rice, but vegetarian fried rice is just a matter of them substituting more vegetables. The great thing is there is no set list of vegetables you will get. Depending on what they have that day you could find: kale, tomatoes, mushrooms, morning glory, peas, beans, onions, carrots, spinach to name a few as well as tofu in most of them. Do make sure to request no egg though, I cannot count the number of times I have had to send it back with no egg, oops!
2. Pad Thai
Pad Thai is the meal most associated with street food in Thailand. The most common way to cook pad Thai is with shrimp and fish sauce, but these are simply replaced with tofu and soy sauce. The base of the meal is rice noodles which has some great flavor. Like the vegetable fried rice there is normally and array of vegetables chosen but the most common way you will find it is with garlic, chili, chopped peanuts, sprouts, onion and cauliflower with a cucumber on the side along with a slice of lime. Again, requesting no egg is a must in this Thai favorite.
3. Khao Soi
Khao soi, Chiang Mai’s signature dish is a must have when in the north. The dish is best known for the combination of crispy and boiled rice noodles. The boiled noodles are inside a soupy coconut curry with the crispy noodles on top. Other features include lime, shallots and pickled cabbage. Each place you visit has there own variations and many discussions over dinner have been had over just who makes the best khao soi in Chiang Mai.
Salad concept is the ‘go-to’ vegan friendly restaurant in Chiang Mai with delicious salads and juices however by exploring the small road side restaurants and street food I have found a great way to make a small difference. They may be confused at first when you request a meal meat and dairy free, but you should see it as an opportunity to educate them. Thais do not like to argue after all!