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Is It Hard To Be Vegan In The Philippines?

Ostensibly, the Philippines look like they'll be an easy country to travel to as a vegan. But in reality it's super hard. Why is this? And more importantly, how can you conquer the Philippines as a vegan?

Is it easy to be vegan in the Philippines?

On the surface it looks like it will be easy to be vegan in the Philippines:

1. Most Filipinos speak excellent English, there is no language barrier like there is in say JapanThailand or even Italy

2. With Filipino cuisine (wrongly) not renowned world-wide as first class, there's less chance of vegans have the kind of vegan fomo you'd expect to have in other countries (like Japan, Thailand or Italy haha)

3. The Philippines are a collection of beautiful, tropical islands, which should mean there is fresh and delicious fruit everywhere. 

I'd travelled to the Philippines once as a non-vegan (and got food poisoning). I went back thinking it would be an easy country to tackle (cuisine-wise). But it actually wasn't, and here's why:

Why is it hard to be Vegan in the Philippines

1. Filipinos LOVE meat - especially pork. Pork adobo and lechon baboy are literally everywhere

2. If a meal doesn't have meat in it, it's just not considered tasty. Filipinos do speak awesome English, they're also really kind and considerate - every time I asked if I could have the meal, but without meat, they'd say 'Yes of course but it won't taste nice!' It was so nice of them to worry if I would enjoy my meal! But explaining every time why you don't like meat is something you don't have to do in countries with a language barrier.. The downsides to no language barrier. Does that make any sense?

3. They also LOVE cheese - there generally is a vegetarian option or two, but it will always always have cheese on it. They just love the stuff. 

4. The typical spices that make other cuisines interesting and tasty for vegans (e.g. cumin, mustard seeds etc), just aren't that prevalent in Filipino cuisine. So sometimes you will end up with bland food. 

5. Fish is also everywhere - I mean they are islands! 

How to be vegan in the Philippines!

But don't worry, with a few tips the Philippines can still be great for vegans:

1. Find vegan restaurants
Using the Happy Cow App or website check to see if there are any vegan restaurants near you. Probably not - but there are a couple in Cebu and a handful in Manila.

2. ASK
Yes they might tell you that it won't taste very nice but where possible Filipinos will alter their dishes just for you. If it's a nice restaurant they might even make special dishes up just for you. Here are some places we went that weren't vegan restaurants at all, but very kindly made beautiful dishes just for us:

Wahine - awesome beach bar
Subo - added bonus of being the only place that serves Filipino cuisine
Supermagic - best vegan burger in town

[Read more: A Vegan Food Guide to Boracay, Philippines]

Palermo - best Italian and Spanish food I've ever had (yes even better than in Italy and Spain)

Bamboo Garden Bar  - we stayed in Siargao for a week and ate here every day for every meal :D 

El Nido:
Marimegmeg Beach Bar - they have hummus sandwiches 

3. Stay somewhere with a kitchen

I say this pretty much for every country we go to.. but it's true, stay somewhere with a kitchen and you can guarantee the food is vegan! Plus bonus points for living like a real local - buying and cooking food there! 

How do you find a place with a kitchen? Hostels can have kitchens (though they're generally rubbish haha). 

Hotels can have kitchen apartments, for example we stayed at the Linden Suites in Manila and Boracay Amor Apartments in Boracay and both of those had awesome kitchens.

House sits come up now and again in the Philippines, this is a great way for vegans to travel - you get new furry friends too!

Airbnb is great in the Philippines, it's super cheap and you can often use the kitchen even if you just rent a room (as opposed to a whole place). 

4. Must try eats

If you leave the Philippines without trying the mangos, the pineapples, the coconuts and the bananas I will come and slap you. (Well like unless you are allergic to them or whatever)... 

Adobo is also awesome, it's traditionally served with pork, which I tried before becoming vegan and enjoyed it. But this time I tried vegan adobo with tofu and it was even better. Yey. 


So there you have it, it might be tempting to visit the Philippines without any prep, but then you will have a few nasty surprises. BUT ultimately with a couple of tips the Philippines is easy enough to travel to as a vegan. I hope this was helpful, let me know in the comments below! 

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