Can Vegans eat Thai food?

In this article, we will answer the following question: Can Vegans eat Thai food? We will also give you several examples of Thai dishes that you can eat as a vegan!

Can Vegans eat Thai food?

Vegans can eat a great variety of Thai food which, like many other foods from Asia, can easily be made vegan or vegetarian. Thai recipes do not usually contain cheese, butter, or milk and it’s rather based on carbohydrates like rice and noodles. Meat is usually only a small portion of the dish, so substituting it will not alter the taste or experience much. The flavor and texture will still be there.

For some time now, several more modern vegetarian/vegan restaurants have opened in Bangkok and other cities, led by younger people, both immigrants and locals, following this worldwide movement. They bring not only traditional Asian cuisine, but also a fusion with modern Western cuisine in all of this. And experiencing all of this is a privilege and always reminds me that meat is a mere detail in this explosion of flavors.

A great substitute for meat: Tofu, whether it is fried and crispy, or not fried, is an option in many Chinese and Thai restaurants. Mushrooms, broccoli, or an assortment of veggies work great too.

Fish sauce: Thai food uses the fish sauce to get that salty touch, so you will have to ask not to add it. They usually substitute it for soy sauce Most dishes don’t change much without adding fish sauce or oyster sauce.

Eggs: If you are vegan you have to ask for simple popular dishes, such as Pat Thai, to be served without meat, egg, or fish sauce. Wontons and yellow noodles also contain eggs, so you better avoid them. Always specify that you want rice noodles.

Below you will find other great alternatives if you want to eat vegan Thai food!

Vegan Thai starters/appetizers

Vegetable Spring Rolls: Some restaurants offer them without meat, but ask before, because some prepare them in advance (with meat).

Vegetable Salad Rolls: They can be prepared without meat, substituting it for tofu.

Fried tofu: One of the best substitutes for meat that is usually served with sweet chili sauce and peanut chips.

Battered Mushrooms: It is not very common in Thai restaurants, but it is in Thailand. If you find a willing place, they could easily prepare this dish for you.

Vegan Thai soups and salads

Tom Kha Mushroom Soup: Similar to Tom Yum, but a little milder. Coconut milk is added to it, which helps balance the flavor.

Vegetable soup: mixed vegetables in vegetable broth, usually with napa or cabbage, carrots, chives; goes great with tofu. The taste is smooth and comforting, like chicken soup.

Hot Thai salads: They are dressed with lime juice, sugar, pepper, and soy sauce (instead of fish sauce). These salads are very popular for their intense flavor, their freshness, and the little time it takes to cook them.

Green Papaya Salad or Som-Tam: It is made from green papaya, unripe, cut into strips. It is prepared with the typical Thai dressing and fresh chili peppers. 

Thai Mushroom Salad – Delicious, great when you’re looking for a softer texture and something different from crunchy veggies. The mushrooms are blanched and mixed with the lime dressing.

Vegan Thai curry and noodles

Vegan Thai curry can be cooked with coconut milk and served with rice. It is very popular for its aromatic herbs and spicy liquid sauce. It is best to change the meat for tofu, and add more mushrooms and vegetables.

Red curry with tofu: swapping meat for tofu and serving it with basil makes it a great dish. 

Panang curry: The vegan version has fried tofu, with Thai wild eggplant.

Massaman curry with tofu: with onions, potatoes, and tofu. The potato will make this dish a little bit sweeter and unique.

Green curry with tofu: the color green is from the green chili paste. It is spicy, served with bamboo shoots and vegetables.

Rad-Nar Noodles or Rice Noodles with Sauce: Sautéed in a skillet with soy sauce and served with a thick broccoli sauce. 

Pad-See-Ew or Noodles in Sweet Soy Sauce: Sautéed with Chinese broccoli, carrots, and dressed with sweet soy sauce. This dish usually has an egg, so be sure to order it without it.

Pad-Kee-Mow, Spicy or Drunken Noodles: Rice noodles sauteed in soy sauce with holy basil and fresh chili peppers. 

Pineapple Fried Rice: sweet and tropical, with pineapple chunks and cashew nuts.

Vegan sauteed Thai dishes

  • Sweet and sour fried tofu
  • Tofu and mushrooms with ginger
  • Fried tofu stir fry with cashews
  • Sauteed vegetables with tofu
  • Spicy mushrooms with basil: spicy and aromatic. It is prepared with holy basil and various vegetables.

Conclusions

In this article, we answered the following question: Can Vegans eat Thai food? We also gave you several examples of Thai dishes that you can eat as a vegan.

One very interesting thing in Thailand is that the country consumes a lot of fruit, vegetables, and legumes in general, with a multitude of different types that we never heard of in the US. There is a great variety of vegan Thai food including soups, curry, and noodles, even sauteed dishes and desserts. 

The bottom line: It is possible (and easy) to consume vegan Thai food, and you should not worry that you will miss the great flavors that this cuisine has.

References

Thaiest.com – Thai Food Dishes You Must Try

Thespruceeats.com – Traditional Thai Recipes

Aboutthatfood.com – Thai Food

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.