Cruelty-Free Travel in the Philippines
Ashley shares her tips on how to eat vegan while travelling around the Philippines!
PETA Asia‘s campaigns office is located in Manila, the Philippines. Having an office here—rather than in cities like Tokyo or Singapore, which have a higher cost of living—allows us to save valuable funds for animals. Our work locally is saving lives, changing hearts and minds, and ensuring that animal-welfare issues are a priority in the developing nation. Over my nine years in the country, I have seen the availability of vegan foods and awareness of animal rights boom.
If you’re traveling to one of the country’s over 7,000 islands, you’ll be able to find vegan food wherever you go. The words “vegan” and “vegetarian” aren’t always understood in the Philippines, so just be sure to tell the server that you want your food without red meat, chicken, fish, milk, butter, cream, fish sauce, or oyster sauce. Filipinos are renowned for their hospitality, and most restaurants will be happy to accommodate your requests. You’ll find chop suey, which is stir-fried veggies, on most restaurant menus. You can also look out for some traditionally vegan street foods like deep-fried sweet potatoes (called camote-que), varieties of fried bananas like turon and banana-que, deep-fried cassava balls, plain puto (a slightly sweet rice-flour cake), suman (a flavored sticky-rice cake cooked in banana leaves), vegetable spring rolls, and deep-fried tofu.
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There’s even a vegan-friendly resort in the country! The Farm at San Benito offers detox and fitness retreats, massage and other therapies, and possibly the most beautiful landscape you have ever seen, with waterfalls, lagoons, and pools around every corner. The award-winning resort’s Alive! restaurant features raw cuisine that is vegetarian and free from eggs and dairy ingredients. To ensure a vegan selection, just ask your server to inform you which of the restaurant’s dishes is also free of honey. The Mandala Spa in Boracay, the Philippines’ most popular tourist destination, also caters to vegans.
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The country’s capital boasts an impressive list of vegetarian restaurants, but if you’re traveling elsewhere, an e-mail to your hotel or resort and a little research into your destination’s vegan hotspots will ensure that you’re well prepared when you arrive. Most tourist destinations have restaurants that cater to vegans. I found an entire vegan menu at The Peacock Garden hotel in Bohol and dined every day at the vegetarian Ima’s Gulay Bar restaurant when in Puerto Princesa. In Coron, where I’ve traveled several times, including once to deliver aid in the devastating aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, I found vegan Korean food at Dali Dali and the best sweet and sour tofu at SeaDive Resort‘s restaurant. I stayed for several days at Balinsasayaw Resort, where accommodations included all meals. We e-mailed the resort our dietary requirements in advance, and my friend and I were treated to vegan delights at every meal—including spicy fried eggplant, pasta and soups, banana fritters, homemade potato chips, and coconut curry.
Although most tourists don’t stay long in the bustling city of Manila, instead using it as a stopover on the way to other islands, if you do have time to spare, do not miss my favorite vegetarian must-tries in this vegan mecca: SUSI, Corner Tree Café, the vegetarian menu at Thai restaurant People’s Palace, Green Bar, Kismet Café, and Wabi-Sabi.
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If you find yourself staying the weekend, don’t miss the Legazpi and Salcedo markets in Makati, the central business district. The markets offer everything from hand-pulled spinach noodles and vegan biscotti to raw cheesecake and dairy-free cheese toasties!
As with anywhere you travel, always be sure to avoid animal attractions and horse-drawn carriages during your trip. If you pre-book tours, even if animal attractions aren’t listed on the itinerary, be sure to let your tour operator know that you don’t want to be taken to any zoos or photo opportunities that feature animals. The warm climate creates favorable conditions for the proliferation of stray animal populations, so be on the lookout for animals in need during your travels. I like to carry pet food in my bag to feed to hungry animals, and if you ever see a sick or injured animal, contact PETA on our emergency hotline in the Philippines: 0999-888-7382.
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Post written by Ashley Fruno. Ashley is the manager of international operations for PETA Asia and the associate director of PETA Australia.