If you are a vegetarian or vegan travelling to Philippines and are worried about what to eat, here’s a guide that should help you survive your vacay days in the meat-heavy diet country. By Shubhanjana Das
Some people say that when you cut out meat and eggs from your diet, you also cut out the opportunity of travelling to certain countries and places whose diet is everything you can’t eat. While that may be true for certain remote countries which don’t encourage tourism all that much, a tourist-centric country like the Philippines has sure found its way to accommodate vegetarians without relying on the ready-to-eat, packed food. P.S. This is mostly a guide for the vegetarians with some options for the vegans.
1. Know Your Vegetarian Filipino Geography
This is to say that even though you may find vegetarian options in Manila, it is practically impossible for that to happen in the rural areas of Philippines. They are heavily reliant on meat, fish, eggs (and dairy) and cutting out the same can be very difficult. However, when you do end up finding a nice vegetarian restaurant or cafe in Manila, make sure to specially mention that you’re happy to have the food without any added fish or eggs since they consider the food to be bland without it. Cebu, Baguio City, Manila, Boracay, Puerto Princesa, and Davao City have the most number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the Philippines. Rely on the Happy Cow App to show you all the vegan restaurants in the Philippines.
2. Take This Opportunity to Try The Fruits
Philippines is absolutely heaven when it comes to fresh tropical fruit supplies. From some of the tastiest mangoes that you will have ever tried to the exotic dragon fruits, there is no dearth of fresh fruits in the Philippines. Irrespective of whether you are a vegetarian or not, a fruit bowl from the local markets is an absolute must. The tropical islands offer an abundance of fresh fruits and their agricultural towns supply the freshest vegetables, so finding these should be no tough job at all.
3. Try Out The Local, Small Carinderia
Chances are that the usual, mid-range restaurants which serve the best Filipino food will have very limited vegetarian options that may not be so inviting for the foodies. In that case, trust the local carinderia for a delicious serving of simply cooked rice, veggies, and some tofu, which is absolutely delectable. In Bohol, you’ll find some of the best carinderias by the road which offer food that can beat even the most high-end vegan restaurants in Manila when it comes to taste.
4. Mention Your Requirements
Philippines being so naturally inclined towards fish, meat, and eggs as a result of their tradition and cultural lifestyle often tend to miss out on the seasonings and the sauces in their vegetarian dishes. Look out for shrimp paste, fish sauce, and even shreds of chicken and fish in certain vegetable preparations. When ordering, be precise to mention that you want to steer clear of any and every non-vegetarian additives, and you should be good to go. In case of any doubt, simply ask the locals as Filipino are some of the most welcoming people in the world.
Related: Five Must-Eats in Philippines for the Intrepid Traveller in You