Is it Laborious to Be a Vegan in Taiwan?
Completely not! Being vegan in Taipei (or wherever else in Taiwan) is a breeze. You’ll have many extra vegan choices than in close by nations corresponding to South Korea, Japan or mainland China.
Taiwan can arguably compete with India for the title of finest nation on the earth for vegetarians. And for vegans, I might say Taiwan is even higher than India.
Taiwan has the strictest legal guidelines on the earth in relation to labeling vegan and vegetarian meals. And, in contrast to in mainland China, there’s really a phrase for “vegan” within the native language that almost all locals will perceive.
Along with numerous non secular traditions that encourage vegetarianism and veganism, there’s additionally an animal-rights-based vegan motion and numerous totally vegan eating places. If you happen to add up the HappyCow listings for Taipei and New Taipei Metropolis, there are 99 vegan eating places in the entire metropolitan space!
To not point out the a whole bunch of vegetarian eating places, that are on just about each avenue in Taipei. With so many choices, it’s tough to know which of them to decide on!
Since I actually wished to expertise the native delicacies as a lot as attainable, I largely ate at native eating places that serve Taiwanese dishes. I didn’t notice till I began scripting this information that each one the eating places I visited had been vegetarian eating places.
That is partly as a result of the totally vegan eating places usually serve a extra Westernized delicacies quite than native Taiwanese meals. After I return to Taipei and have extra time to discover, I undoubtedly wish to attempt a few of these vegan eating places.
On the finish of this text, I’ll point out just a few of those vegan locations in Taipei which might be excessive on my listing. However for now, let’s begin off with a few of the finest vegetarian eating places in Taipei the place you possibly can style genuine vegan Taiwanese meals.
Vegetarian Eating places in Taipei
Xiu Yuan Su Shi (修圓素食)
This place could be very conveniently situated close to Taipei Important Station. It’s a no-frills eatery with very budget-friendly costs and fills up shortly with locals. Be ready to share a desk with folks you don’t know.
Ask for the English menu, though if you happen to don’t look Asian they’ll most likely carry it to you anyway. Most issues are vegan, however it’s finest to ask to make certain.
Parts aren’t large, however fairly honest for the worth, and it means you get to attempt a few totally different dishes. I like to recommend the sesame noodles (麻將面), the savory sticky rice cake (素米糕) and the flat rice noodles with curry soup (咖喱燴板條).
MeiMen Backyard (梅門防空洞)
The English title for this place is Meimen Backyard, however the precise translation of the Chinese language title is “air raid shelter”. Which is strictly what this underground area was, though you’d by no means realize it now.
It’s really a really peaceable and properly adorned vegetarian restaurant, albeit with none home windows. Most menu gadgets are vegan, and the few dishes that comprise dairy are clearly marked.
On Fridays it’s open all night time, with a decreased menu from 10 pm to six am. Since most eating places in Taipei shut fairly early, it is a uncommon possibility for late-night meals in Taiwan.
I used to be joyful to see dan zai mian (擔仔麵) on the menu, as I’d heard about this well-known Taiwanese dish and hoped to seek out it veganized.
Originating as a avenue meals widespread in Tainan, dan zai mian is called after the bamboo shoulder pole and baskets that avenue meals distributors would use to hawk their wares. Usually it incorporates shrimp, eggs and meat, however at MeiMen Backyard you attempt it in a vegan model.
This was most likely my favourite of the vegetarian eating places in Taipei that we visited. It’s the one vegetarian restaurant in Taipei that will get a point out within the Michelin information.
By my requirements it appeared like a fairly fancy place, however Michelen calls it a “easy restaurant”. Are you able to inform I don’t eat at Michelin-starred eating places fairly often? In any case, the costs are literally fairly cheap given the standard of the meals and the expertise.
Serenity is billed as a “vegetarian Sichuanese” restaurant, and the kitchen is run by two cooks. One chef makes a speciality of vegetarian cooking, and the opposite makes a speciality of Sichuanese delicacies.
I’ve to say that the dishes right here didn’t actually resemble the dishes I’ve eaten in Sichuan. The spice degree has been toned waaaayyyy down for the Taiwanese palate. However, every little thing we ordered was scrumptious!
My favourite was the “three cups monkey head mushrooms”. Three cups is a basic Taiwanese dish and refers back to the three elements within the sauce: sesame oil, Chinese language rice wine and soy sauce.
It’s mostly made with rooster, however on this case the celebs of the present had been these funky mushrooms, which I suppose type of do appear to be monkey heads!
Most dishes listed here are vegan, and those who aren’t are clearly marked. By the best way, transliteration of the Chinese language title is Xiang He, and also you may see it written this fashion on some web sites. However in English it’s referred to as Serenity.
Fruitful Meals (果然匯)
Eating at an all-you-can-eat buffet (自助餐) is a quintessential Taiwanese expertise. There are a number of massive vegetarian buffets in Taipei, however this one is essentially the most vegan pleasant, as every little thing is clearly labeled.
Positioned on the 12th flooring of a division retailer, it’s an enormous restaurant with seating for greater than 300 folks. And but it’s so widespread that it nonetheless fills up. Whereas on the costly aspect, it’s price doing not less than as soon as for the expertise.
The choice of dishes is huge and consists of each Western, Taiwanese and different Asian dishes. These change every single day, although, so that you by no means know precisely what you’re going to get.
Even so, there are certain to be loads of vegan predominant dishes, and not less than just a few dessert choices. They even have vegan ice cream.
So Free Pizza (柴燒窯烤比薩)
This vegetarian pizza chain makes use of a wood-fired oven and presents vegan cheese. I’ve learn outdated critiques saying that anybody who orders the vegan cheese right here is required to purchase the complete block of cheese and take it away with them.
Fortunately, that’s not the case. Nonetheless, the pizza is simply OK. Parts are fairly small, and the dough doesn’t have the fluffy texture that I might anticipate from a wood-fired oven.
We went right here as a result of we had been in Ximending, and there simply aren’t that many vegan choices in that space. A minimum of that’s what we thought. Afterwards, I discovered this text that lists extra vegan Ximending choices.
Vegan Avenue Meals in Taipei
Taipei is without doubt one of the finest cities on the earth for avenue meals. The meals at its night time markets is known, and other people will generally queue for greater than an hour at the most well-liked stalls.
Whilst you’re sure to seek out not less than just a few vegan avenue meals choices at any of Taipei’s night time markets, your finest wager is to catch the roving veggie night time market when it rolls into city.
Vegetarian Evening Market
A dozen or so vegetarian avenue meals distributors journey collectively across the island, creating slightly vegetarian haven inside one of many bigger night time markets.
I occurred to catch the market in Tamsui, which is a bit removed from the middle of Taipei however completely definitely worth the journey! Examine the vegetarian night time market Fb web page for the most recent schedule.
Not all distributors are there each night time, however listed here are the sorts of meals yow will discover on the market:
Tang Bao (湯包) – soup-filled buns
Grilled Mochi (麻糬) – sticky rice muffins served heat on a stick
Mushyaki (寶菇燒) – takoyaki, a Japanese snack, made with king oyster mushrooms as a substitute of octopus
Ma La Chou Doufu (麻辣臭豆腐) – pungent tofu in a spicy soup
There are additionally a few stalls promoting non-Asian dishes, like quesadillas and veggie burgers. Truly, the veggie burgers on the Gardenburger Meals Truck are wildly widespread, however I selected to not wait in line for them.
Not every little thing on the vegetarian night time market is vegan, however at most stalls the vegan choices are clearly marked.
Different Evening Markets in Taipei
If the vegetarian night time market isn’t on the town if you’re there, it’s nonetheless price testing one in all Taipei’s many different night time markets. You’re sure to seek out just a few vegan gadgets, and you could even come throughout a totally vegetarian stall.
Lately, increasingly more night time market distributors are promoting their vegan dishes. Try this text for a run-down of the vegan choices out there at Shilin Evening Market, the biggest and most well-known night time market in Taipei.
And even if you happen to don’t enter any of Taipei’s night time markets, you’ll nonetheless come throughout some scattered meals stalls if you happen to wander round widespread areas like Ximending at night time. Like these yummy candy potato balls (地瓜球) pictured above, crispy on the surface however chewy on the within.
Daytime Avenue Meals in Taipei
You don’t have to attend till after darkish to take pleasure in Taipei’s scrumptious avenue meals. The truth is, you possibly can even have it for breakfast!
Vegan Breakfast in Taipei
Go searching Buddhist temples for vegetarian meals stalls. If you happen to go to Longshan Temple for the eight am chanting session (which I extremely advocate), you possibly can have breakfast afterwards on the stalls which might be arrange outdoors.
In fact, the meals being bought at this hour is probably not what you’re used to consuming for breakfast. Frequent choices are Dong Fen (冬粉), that are vermicelli noodles constructed from mung beans, and You Fan (油飯), which is sticky rice with sesame oil.
You tiao (油條) fried breadsticks with soy milk (豆漿) is one other very typical Taiwanese breakfast. Although not a avenue meals stall, Yong He Soy Milk might be essentially the most well-known place on the town to do this basic, naturally vegan breakfast in Taipei.
Prime Royal Vegetarian (上頂皇家素食水煎包水餃)
That is my favourite avenue meals stall in Taipei. They make vegetarian dumplings (水餃) and pan-fried buns (水煎包) with a wide range of fillings, and all of them are scrumptious.
The buns are fried after which steamed, so they’re fluffy but crunchy on the surface. Each time we went, all of the choices had been vegan, however it’s finest to examine simply in case.
We had a little bit of bother discovering it the primary time, as a result of the pin on Google maps is a bit off. It’s really on the identical avenue as Xiu Yuan Su Shi (修圓素食), simply a few doorways down.
Because it’s so near the prepare station, you may wish to cease right here to choose up some snacks earlier than you catch a prepare. Simply keep in mind that they’re solely open till 7 pm.
A Phrase About Mock Meats in Taiwan
Regardless of the strict legal guidelines on labeling vegetarian and vegan meals in Taiwan, there nonetheless appears to be some confusion in relation to mock meat.
The excellent news is that mock meats bought in supermarkets will definitely be labeled as vegan, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian or lacto-ovo vegetarian. However the unhealthy information is that this is probably not the case in eating places.
Some vegetarian eating places in Taipei, when labeling the vegan gadgets on their menus, don’t appear to contemplate that there could be eggs or dairy of their mock meats.
And apparently, a lot of mock meat in Taiwan does comprise eggs or dairy. Some native vegans select to not eat any mock meats in vegetarian eating places (in vegan eating places there must be no worries).
Personally, I do know there are going to be occasional errors after I’m touring, so I simply attempt to do my finest and never get too hung up on the small particulars. If a restaurant workers member tells me that an merchandise is vegan, I’ll normally take their phrase for it.
However every of us has our personal line within the sand, so now that you already know the scenario you possibly can resolve the place to attract yours. For a extra intensive clarification of the pretend meat concern in Taiwan, see Jesse Duffield’s e-book talked about on the finish of this text.
Vegan Bakeries in Taipei
Yiihotang bakery (一禾堂)
Whereas we didn’t make it to any of Taipei’s totally vegan eating places for a meal, we did cease in at this totally vegan bakery. It’s stuffed with every kind of candy and savory treats, together with conventional Taiwanese pastries in addition to some Western and fusion choices.
Pineapple muffins are a well-known Taiwanese deal with and a well-liked reward to take again house after a go to to Taiwan. At Yiihotang, you should buy reward pineapple muffins individually or in reward bins, all vegan after all. One other conventional pastry that’s been veganized right here is the salted egg pastry crammed with purple bean paste.
Yiihotang has a number of areas in Songshan, Da’an and Xinyi districts. We went to the one in Da’an, which is true subsequent door to Flourish, a well-liked vegan restaurant run by the identical firm.
And the Yiihotang retailers aren’t the one vegan bakeries in Taipei, both. Others that come extremely beneficial are Hip Pun, Inexperienced Bakery and Vegan Heaven.
Vegan Milky Drinks in Taipei
Dairy merchandise won’t be used that always in Taiwanese dishes, however in relation to drinks it’s a distinct story.
That is the house of bubble tea, in spite of everything, which has reached iconic standing. One legislator has even proposed including a picture of bubble tea to the quilt of Taiwanese passports.
NUTTEA Nut Mylk Tea (堅果奶 · 茶)
I’m not large on chilly drinks of any variety, and I’m not sure that I’d ever even tasted bubble milk tea (珍珠奶茶) earlier than my journey to Taiwan. However I definitely wished to attempt it whereas I used to be there.
So I ended in at NUTTEA, which I’d heard made non-dairy variations of Taiwan’s widespread milk-based drinks. Which is true, however for some cause they don’t provide bubble tea.
Their specialty is their well-known nut cream, which is used as a topping on lots of their drinks. It’s constructed from a mix of 5 totally different nut milks and is outwardly fairly thick and, uh, creamy.
However I used to be cussed about desirous to attempt bubble tea, so I ordered the closest factor out there, which was their Brown Sugar Jelly Nut Mylk Tea. The brown sugar jelly is cylindrical, not spherical like a tapioca pearl.
It was high quality, however I most likely ought to have ordered one of many drinks with nut cream as a substitute. Solely later did I discover out about two different drink retailers that do provide vegan bubble tea.
These are Nutsmilk (堅果奶,吧), which is all vegan, and Milk Store (迷客夏), which serves dairy but in addition presents bubble tea with soy milk. Each are close to the principle prepare station. My recommendation is to go to NUTTEA for a nut cream drink and to one in all these different two locations for bubble tea.
Xing Ren Cha (杏仁茶 )
Whereas this conventional drink seems like it will comprise milk, it’s really constructed from almonds and so is of course vegan. Though the title means “almond tea”, there’s no tea in it. The principle elements are almond flour, sticky rice and sugar, and numerous spices and seeds are additionally generally added.
Yow will discover xing ren cha bought at meals stalls across the metropolis. The sort, aged lady who runs the stall outdoors Longshan Temple has been there for 30-something years. She claims that her xing ren cha will remedy coughs and different illnesses. However she additionally says to be careful for much less scrupulous sellers who use chemical substances to mimic the style of almond.
Extra Taipei Vegan Eating places
With so many to select from, there are many nice vegan eating places in Taipei that I didn’t make it to on this journey. Listed here are just a few that may undoubtedly be excessive on my listing subsequent time I go to:
This restaurant makes a speciality of lu wei (鹵味), which is a standard sort of avenue meals in Taiwan however it’s usually not very vegan pleasant. You select your personal elements (noodles, greens, mock meats, and many others.), and these are braised for you in a briny sauce with numerous spices.
The meals right here is usually Western and consists of pasta, pizza with vegan cheese, and cupcakes. Reported to be a very good place to work from if you happen to’re the digital nomad sort.
Run by the identical house owners as Yiihotang bakery, one department of which is simply subsequent door to this restaurant. I had a take a look at the menu after I handed by, and it was a mixture of Asian and Western dishes. It appeared a bit expensive, however Flourish will get nice critiques so I’ll undoubtedly give it a attempt subsequent time.
Ooh Cha Cha
This American-owned institution was one of many first Western vegan cafés to open in Taipei, and it now has two areas. The unique location is in Zhongzheng district close to the Guting station, and the newer department is close to the Know-how Constructing Station and is named Ooh Cha Cha Tech.
Close to the Taipower Constructing MRT station, this place apparently has the most effective falafel in Taipei, if that’s what you’re craving.
Issues change shortly within the meals business, and a few of the beforehand widespread vegan Taipei eating places have since closed, together with About Animals and NAKEDFOOD. Earlier than you head to a restaurant, examine its standing on Google maps or, even higher, ship them a message to verify they’re nonetheless open.
Extra Information on Vegan Taipei Meals
I might go on and on about all of the vegan eating places in Taipei that I wish to go to on my subsequent journey. However as a substitute I’ll depart you with a few assets by individuals who have spent extra time in Taipei than I’ve.
The primary is that this very complete weblog submit on I Journey for Vegan Meals. I actually like this weblog. It solely covers just a few locations to date (Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia), however all of the guides are fairly useful and well-researched.
And the second useful resource is the e-book Taiwan: A Journey Information for Vegans by Jesse Duffield. Jesse has lived in Taiwan for a number of years and is aware of the vegan scene there inside and outside.
Quite than an extended listing of eating places (which yow will discover simply on HappyCow), this e-book isn’t just a restaurant listing but in addition an precise guidebook. Greater than 400 pages lengthy, it goes into nice element about Taiwan’s sights and sights and provides insightful cultural background information.
It’s at present closely discounted through the COVID-19 pandemic, so I like to recommend grabbing a duplicate now on Amazon.