Although the Philippines’ traditional cuisine is largely characterized by meat and fish dishes accompanied by rice, there are many ways to experience authentic Filipino food while still eating vegan. Jason Raval, a prolific vegan and the official photographer of the Central Bank of the Philippines says, “Being a tropical country, we have access to so many fruits and vegetables which are better than those we can find in the US or elsewhere.” Whether you’re a local or a foreigner, it would be a waste not to partake of the delicious produce available in the country. The following are a few of my personal favorite vegan food haunts and resources in the Philippines. So stop on by—maybe we’ll see each other!
For cheap Filipino cuisine, try the famous vegetarian café Likha Diwa at the University of the Philippines–Diliman. My personal favorite is its vegetarian kare-kare with red rice. Masarap yun! Another affordable option away from the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila is Baguio’s Azotea Greens. In addition to its delicious food, this cute café offers vegan alternatives to dairy products as well as cruelty-free cosmetics for sale.
Feeling a bit fancy? Then Spices restaurant in The Peninsula Manila hotel has an excellent vegan menu that is sure to satisfy. The lush tropical scenery of this high-end restaurant and its delicious food make it the perfect getaway for any special occasion. Be forewarned, though, that the usual price for two is PHP4,000. It’s not cheap, but the food is worth every centavo!
If you’re craving something other than Pinoy, then New Bombay, with several branches in Makati, is a great option, serving affordable, mouthwatering authentic Indian cuisine at fair prices. I’d recommend the vegetable samosas.
Besides restaurants, many street-food vendors sell delicious vegan treats for extremely low prices, such as turón (banana and jackfruit wrapped in rice paper and fried to perfection with brown sugar). Other to-die-for street goodies include taho (soy custard silken tofu pudding with sweet syrup made of caramelized brown sugar and tapioca pearls, just like the ones often found in milk tea), manggang hilaw (fried green mangoes that are often served with shrimp paste, which, of course, you don’t want!), buko (the Tagalog word for coconut), and binatog (steamed corn kernels mixed with shredded coconut and topped with sugar).
In a worst-case scenario, such as if you’re stuck with friends at a restaurant without a vegan menu, I have a tip for you: Most restaurants are usually very happy to prepare something vegan at your request. Just ask, and you will receive!
For a more comprehensive overview of vegan eateries that the country has to offer, please visit PETA’s list of vegetarian restaurants in the Philippines. Enjoy!
Post written by former PETA intern John Romero