Being Vegetarian in Vietnam
Vietnam, like most of the other South East Asian countries is known for its meaty delicacies all across the globe. It is hard to be a vegetarian when there is at least one non-veg ingredient in the Vietnamese cuisine. But in the hordes of frog legs, snails, pork, dog meat etc. We forget that a lot of people here follow Buddhism. Moreover, vegetarianism is becoming more and more popular as a result we can see Vietnam’s landscape dotted with quite a few vegetarian restaurants.
While it may not be hard to find a few vegetarian dishes in any of the restaurants and sometimes even the street food stalls the chances of it being cooked in separate pots and pans are far too less. Also, most of the places cook their food in fish oil – no matter veg or non veg.
What to ask\look for:
It is very easy to figure out the vegetarian section in a menu card, since most of the menus are in English language. If you still may have difficulty your word is- Chay, meaning vegetarian. So all you got to do is spot that word or ask the vendor if its chay\vegeterian.
What to eat:
I believe Pho is on the top of everyone’s list who travels to Vietnam. For those who do not know what Pho is- it is a noodle soup with bean sprouts, herbs and chicken\beef. As far as I am concerned every other street food corner or restaurant I went to had Pho Chay (What a delight!) You know what is better about Pho apart from being a whole meal? You can get it in as less as $ 1. Yes! You read it right, but it is true for most of the street food in Vietnam.
This is nothing but a lot of salad, cheese and some meat stuffed in a baguette. You can ask the vendor to just put salad and cheese and get it for a lesser price. No matter where you are in Vietnam you will definitely find a stall selling Bánh mì and it easily became my soul food throughout the trip.
You will come across Vietnamese ladies selling sticky rice with different flavors, I spotted them generally early morning. While I did not try all the variants, sticky rice with mango was my favorite.
Vietnam is a home for a variety of tropical fruits and as a fruit lover I just could not get enough of it! From the rare dragon fruits, rambutans, peaches to mangoes, pineapples, watermelons name it they have it!
Apart from the few street food mentioned above you will find fried rice, fried noodles, stir friend vegetables and what not. There are a number of Indian and Buddhist restaurants serving vegetarian food. I did not try the Indian food in Vietnam but from what I hear it is pretty nice. The variety of vegetarian food may be lesser than the meaty delights that they have to offer but that should not stop you from tasting some amazing flavors of Vietnam.