Thai Cuisine – A Great Choice For Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Thai cuisine features an abundance of fresh vegetables and herbs that can easily be transformed into delectable vegetarian dishes, making the cuisine one of the world’s premier vegetarian dining destinations. Additionally, as veganism gains more traction across Thailand in major cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai, more vegan-friendly dining options become readily available each day.


Thai food may appear vegetarian-friendly at first glance, but its distinct flavors may make eating meat-free an uphill battle.

As an unassuming vegan or vegetarian, eating delectable Thai cuisine need not be impossible! Simply be aware of how and where ingredients are prepared as many common staples may contain fish sauce.

Northern Thai cuisine is an amalgamation of Yuannanese, Shan, and Burmese styles with salty and sour elements. Also referred to as Lanna food, its characteristics are often distinguished by smoky grills with herbs chargrilled at high heat alongside fresh vegetables served alongside streamed sticky rice.

Lanna cuisine features the ingredient of tamarind as one of its key components, and this fruit plays an integral part of many Northern Thai dishes since limes are rare there and provides balance to either sweet or sour tastes in foods prepared using it.

Numerous towns now cater for vegans and vegetarians, such as wellness resorts in Phuket that feature restaurants serving Thai- and Chinese-influenced veggie menus. Pai, an up-and-coming backpacker destination, boasts numerous vegan cafes and organic eateries to satisfy vegan and vegetarian diners.


Southern Thai cuisine offers many vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes, such as pad thai and massaman curry.

These dishes, typically prepared with rice, can be enjoyed both as snacks and main meals. Indulge in fresh salads that provide essential nutrition – an ideal healthy replacement to meat products!

Thailand boasts numerous open markets offering an abundance of fruits and vegetables throughout the year. Seasonally-relevant options might include mangosteen, rambutan, pomelo and rose apple among many other items.

Thai fruit selection is extremely diverse; you will be impressed at how much variety there is! Popular options such as mangosteen and rambutan can also be found alongside guava, custard apple, jack-fruit, and pineapple.

Thai cooking includes an array of aromatic spices. Bai grapao (holy basil) is an integral component in many Thai dishes due to its distinct taste. Garlic is another popular spice used frequently throughout Thai cuisine and can come in the form of chopped, crushed and grated bulbs or whole whole garlic bulbs.


Rice is one of the mainstays in Thai cuisine and plays an integral part in every meal, serving as both side dish, base for soups and curries, or main course.

Vegetarian Thai recipes feature an assortment of dishes, from vegetable stir-frys and soups to curries. Many can easily be made vegan-friendly by replacing the traditional fish sauce with vegan-friendly soy sauces.

Tofu is an essential component of Thai vegetarian cuisine, and comes in an array of flavors to meet different culinary preferences. Tofu serves as an ideal meat replacement in many of their signature curries or stir fries.

Pad pak gachet (phadphakkaechd), also known as stir-fried water mimosa, is another delectable vegetarian option. This robust underwater vegetable typically gets its seasoning with chili curry paste; to order this dish in its vegetarian state you must specify that no meat or fish sauce should be included.

Other Thai dishes that can be ordered without meat are som tam, green papaya salad, and gaeng om, a stew with herbs, vegetables, pork or chicken meat, fermented shrimp paste and fermented shrimp sauce. When ordering vegan versions, be sure to specify that no meat, dried shrimp, fish sauce or oyster sauce will be used – or no fish sauce at all!


Thai cuisine is famous for its wide range of fresh herbs and spices, providing vegans and vegetarians alike with plenty of tasty meals that they’ll love – from soups and curries to noodles dishes and stir fry! There’s something to please every palate in Thai cuisine.

Vegetarians can still enjoy the rich flavors of Thai cuisine with just a few simple substitutions – for instance, Pad Thai can easily become vegan by swapping out soy sauce for fish sauce in its preparation.

Be mindful that seafood and eggs are common ingredients in Thai recipes; so if you are traveling as a vegetarian, double-check before ordering!

Pad thai, one of the most beloved Thai dishes, is an irresistibly delicious stir-fry dish featuring rice noodles. Although commonly thought to be vegetarian in nature, its use of tofu allows it to also be vegan-friendly.

Vegetables are an integral component of American cuisine and can be prepared in many ways to add an exciting twist to any meal. A popular way to prepare vegetables is stir-frying them in Thai curry sauce.

Green papaya salad is another tasty and healthy vegetable dish that is easily prepared. Vegans can request it by specifying no dried shrimp (mai sai goong haeng aimaischungaehng) and without fish sauce (mai sai nam bplaa aimaisnamplaa).


Nearly every Thai dish can be vegan-friendly by substituting meat or seafood with tofu; however, be sure to consult the restaurant or waiter as some types of tofu contain eggs.

Thai cuisine is generally suitable for vegetarian and vegan diners, however it is advisable to inquire as to whether your dish can be made without fish sauce which usually features in curries and soups. If they can’t do that they might offer other alternatives such as non-fishy paste.

Another excellent plant-based Thai meal option is Tofu Chow Mein Noodles, typically prepared with soy sauce instead of fish sauce. Available at most restaurants, and featuring many choices!

Thai laab is another delicious vegan-friendly Thai dish, and is best enjoyed as an afternoon snack or as part of a larger meal. This spicy meat salad typically features lettuce leaves seasoned with various spices, and may include additional vegetables such as cucumber or peppers for additional flavour.

Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is an integral component of many Thai dishes, and finding vegan alternatives may prove challenging. But there are some tasty alternatives you can enjoy.

As a rule of thumb, when ordering vegan-friendly food, ask your server to remove all non-vegan ingredients such as shrimp paste (kapi). They may even offer alternative solutions like soy or rice vinegar mixture instead of fish sauce.

Begin to experiment with various proteins and vegetables until you discover what best meets your body and taste preferences. Perhaps try something simple like a chopped Thai salad featuring carrots, bell peppers and cilantro?

Alternately, try making your own stir fry of fresh vegetables or vegetable massaman curry using coconut milk as its base. Both dishes can easily be made at home and you can easily switch out soy or rice vinegar mixture for fish sauce if preferred.

Fish sauce boasts an intense umami taste that makes for satisfying dishes. With its salty, ocean-y aroma that perfectly balances flavors in any recipe.


Thai cuisine offers many delectable flavors and ingredients perfect for vegetarians and vegans, including some that contain eggs. When ordering Thai food it’s essential that you are aware of which items contain this egg-containing ingredient as to avoid any unpleasant surprises when placing your order.

Eggs are used in numerous dishes, including fried rice and most types of noodles. If in doubt as to the vegan status of any particular item, always check with your server first.

Pad Thai (stir-fried noodles), one of Thailand’s most beloved cuisines, can easily become vegan by substituting tofu for meat as your protein source and eliminating fish sauce or eggs from your dish. Plus it makes an amazing source of delicious vegan goodness! Definitely give this dish a try and discover its many healthful advantages!

Thai curries can also be enjoyed without fish sauce; for example, this yellow curry from Occasionally Eggs features pantry essentials like turmeric, ginger, and coconut milk as ingredients.

Other dishes suitable for vegan diets are salads and soups. Based on traditional Thai recipes, they can easily be modified into vegan versions with just a few tweaks – this coconut curry Brussels sprouts salad by Sharon Palmer is an example of such an easy change that serves both as an appetiser or main course dish!