The Philippines is an archipelago renowned for its beautiful beaches, world-class diving, and hospitable locals. It cannot compare to any other tropical paradise. But what is it like to live as a vegan in the Philippines?
Let’s start with a quick rundown of Filipino food. The Philippines has embraced and adapted international cuisine. When it comes to food, the Philippines has it all.
Filipino cuisine is a unique fusion of Chinese, Spanish, and Malay influences, since numerous peoples have migrated here over the centuries. Unfortunately, it is not known for its vegan offerings.
The Philippines has a reputation for being a meat-loving country, which is generally true. But do not despair just yet!
If you have read articles about vegan food in the Philippines, even those from three or five years ago, you have probably heard horror stories about how hard it is to go vegan.
Nonetheless, Filipinos are constantly looking for new experiences. Recently, the vegan movement has gained popularity throughout the country.
Veganism in the Philippines
The Philippines is undoubtedly one of the most conservative countries regarding veganism. Filipinos love meat and cannot live without white rice. Many people in the Philippines have probably never heard the term “vegan,” and the concept of a vegan scene in the Philippines is still in its infancy.
If you are vegan, you will find it challenging to live a completely vegan lifestyle in the Philippines. You and your family will have to do extensive research, explain to restaurant patrons, and frequently inquire if this contains fish sauce, shrimp paste, or other animal byproducts.
However, this does not mean that vegans cannot visit the Philippines! It’s pretty easy if you know where to look and are familiar with some traditional Filipino vegetable dishes. Here is some helpful advice on how you and your family can survive if you are all vegan and want to visit a tropical paradise like the Philippines.
Nowadays, almost every traditional Filipino dish is also available in vegan form.
Especially in Manila and other major cities, you will find passionate vegan organizations and animal rights activists preaching the message of compassion for all animals. And a number of them have opened vegan restaurants.
According to Happy Cow, there are now 52 fully vegan and 110 lacto-ovo-vegetarian establishments in the country. While Metro Manila and Cebu have the highest concentration of vegetarian restaurants, each province has its dedicated vegan community.
Traveling as a vegan in the Philippines is now easier than ever. You don’t have to fear missing out on authentic Filipino cuisine.
Granted, Filipino cuisine is not one of the most vegan-friendly cuisines in Southeast Asia. There are fewer naturally vegan foods than Thai, Vietnamese, or Malaysian cuisine.
And I will not claim that the Philippines, like Bali, is a vegan paradise.
However, with a few minor tweaks, it is possible to veganize any Filipino cuisine. While some vegan restaurants in the Philippines specialize in veganizing traditional Filipino dishes, others specialize in making international dishes vegan-friendly.
Check out this list of vegan products and stores in the Philippines.
Of course, no trip is complete without sampling the local street food. While most Filipino street food consists of grilled meat or fried seafood balls, traditional baked goods, and other specialties are inherently vegan.
Check out this list of vegan street foods in the Philippines.
Some phrases vegans need to learn
English-speaking travelers will be relieved to learn that English is an official language in the Philippines, so you will not have to memorize vegan-friendly words – unlike Thailand, where being vegan can be tricky!
Nevertheless, it is a good idea to have Tagalog translations on hand if you need to eat in a remote area.
Is there meat in this dish? → Meron bang karne itong pagkain na ito?
I don’t eat meat, seafood, milk, and eggs. → Hindi ako kumakain ng karne, seafood, gatas at itlog.
Should vegans travel to the Philippines?
Without a doubt, yes! The Philippines is an incredible country with breathtaking landscapes, incredible animals, and friendly people.
Traveling in the Philippines on a plant-based diet is an adventure in itself. Think of it as a scavenger hunt. Traveling to the Philippines as a vegan can be an unforgettable experience with enough planning and preparation.
In advance, you can also buy vegan essentials from these recommended online vegan stores.
I highly recommend consulting other travel guides to the Philippines to make the most of your time and discover this stunning country’s main sights and hidden treasures.
Vegan restaurants are rising, and many have already built a following among residents.
Use the HappyCow to find vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants near you.
As a last resort, ask a local. Filipinos are very hospitable and happy to help guests. Welcome to the Philippines!