Sunday 30 July 2017

Vegan Philippines: Is It Hard to Be Vegan in the Philippines?

vegan philippines

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

vegan filipino food

Is It Easy to Be Vegan in the Philippines?

On the surface it looks veganism in the Philippines will be easy:

  • Firstly, with English being one of the official languages of the Philippines (the other one is Tagalog), many Filipinos speak English, and many of them speak impeccable English. Thus I personally found there was much much less of a language barrier here compared to what I found in Japan, Thailand or even Italy
  • Secondly, with Filipino cuisine (wrongly) not renowned as first-class, there's less chance of vegans having that fear of missing out on the 'must eats' that they might have in other countries with more famous cuisines (like Japan, Thailand or Italy haha)
  • Thirdly, the Philippines are a collection of beautiful, tropical islands, which means there is fresh and delicious fruit everywhere (aka vegan food)

veganism philippines

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 (vegan-wise). [Curious why I'm a vegan? travel made me vegan - find out how here]

Why is it Hard to Be Vegan in the Philippines?

Firstly, many Filipinos LOVE meat - especially pork. Pork adobo and lechon baboy are literally everywhere. Secondly, many Filipinos also LOVE cheese - there generally are vegetarian options available in the Philippines, but it will always always have cheese on it. Thirdly, 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. Fourthly, fish is also EVERYWHERE - I mean the Philippines are a collection of islands after all.

vegan philippines hard

Lastly, if a meal doesn't have meat in it, it's often just not considered tasty. Filipinos do speak amazing English and they're also really kind and considerate: both of these sound like positives and they are, BUT when it comes to ordering vegan in the Philippines, something like this will always happen:

"Can I have the meal without meat/cheese"
"Yes of course, but it won't taste good!!!"

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 having ZERO language barrier. Does that make any sense?

vegan food philippines

[Want more? Read about 5 reasons to vegan travel Philippines]

How to Be Vegan in the Philippines?

vegan philippines

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

Tip 1. How to Adapt Non-vegan Food in the Philippines

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 I went that weren't vegan restaurants at all, but very kindly made beautiful vegan-friendly Filipino dishes:

Tip 2. Finding Vegan Restaurants in the Philippines

Use the Happy CowVanilla Bean or our absolute fave vegan app, Abillioveg (plz use our referral code to support us, it's: TRAVELLINGWEASELS) to 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, widely agreed as the most vegan friendly cities in the Philippines. So here are some restaurant recommendations:

Vegan Food Boracay

Wahine: awesome beach bar!

vegan boracay

Subo: added bonus of being the only place that serves Filipino cuisine.

boracay vegan restaurant

boracay vegans

Supermagic: best vegan burger in town

vegan burger boracay

Vegan Food Cebu

Palermo: best Italian and Spanish food I've ever had (even better than in Italy and vegan Madrid)

vegan cebu

Vegan Food Siargao

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

Vegan Food El Nido

Marimegmeg Beach Bar: they have hummus sandwiches

Tip 3. Stay Somewhere in the Philippines with a Kitchen & Cook

veganism philippines

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 (because you are the chef). Plus bonus points for living like a real local - by buying and cooking food there! How do you find a place with a kitchen? Hostels can have kitchens (though they're generally rubbish haha).

vegan cebu

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. [Find more hotels in the Philippines with kitchens you can use here] 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). Also, don't forget about Couchsurfing - you can cook your hosts a vegan meal or even cook together if they are vegan, too! :)

4. Must try vegan Filipino food

vegan filipino food

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)... extra points if you pick your own coconut!

filipino vegans

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.

filipino vegan food

Wrap Up: Is It Hard to Be Vegan in the Philippines?

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! [More on South East Asia: how to be vegan in Laos]

vegan philippines

Thank you so much for reading my post! I really hope you enjoyed it, and if you did please drop me a like on Facebook: this encourages me to get off my butt and write more posts and also puts nice pictures of vegan food and travel on your timeline occasionally, when I remember to post on there :)

P.S.: If you're interested in an app designed for vegans & wanna support the vegan movement and us, veganvstravel as well, use this link plz to download Abillionveg. When registering, please use our referral code: TRAVELLINGWEASELS. If you wanna know why we think this is a great app, read here.

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