Going vegan isn’t easy, especially when going abroad and traveling. It is sometimes problematic exploring food in different countries with different culture for those who are on a special diet. Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is famous for both local and international, diverse cuisines. With the rising popularity of Veganism all over the world and the prevailing Buddhist vegetarianism in Taiwan, as a vegan, looking for what to eat in Taipei is not a problem! Here is what we suggest:
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First thing first: knowing about the Buddhist vegetarianism in Taiwan
Buddhist vegetarianism is the practice of following a Tarian diet under the Buddha’s teaching. With the prevailing Buddhism religion in Taiwan, it is quite common to see vegetarian options in restaurants and food stands.
Tips for Vegans in Taipei: looking for vegan street food
As you might already know, street food culture is a must experience when you visit Taiwan. It would be a pity if you were a vegan, and only visit restaurants or sit-down dinner for your whole journey. There are some local cuisines that are offered vegan or vegetarian due to the common Buddhism belief.
1. simply ask
Simply ask if it is cooked with meat or if there is any dairy or egg inside, or in Chinese it would be “全素” (Quán sù), which means vegan. If you ask for something vegetarian, that would be “素” (sù).
2. look for the character with a Buddhism symbol: swastika
In East Asia, the swastika is a symbol which is commonly seen in Buddhist communities and Buddhist temples, which represents as a decorative object of luck and fortune. As mentioned before, due to the common Buddhist vegetarianism being practiced in Taiwan, there are restaurants and food stands where offer both, vegetarian and vegan menus. To make it easier to be identified, the symbols are often marked on the signs outside the food stands or restaurants.
3. make sure it is not cooked with lard
Since lard is derived from pork, a vegan would avoid it on their diet. Cuisines cooked with meat, egg, and dairy products can be easily spotted whether if it is vegan or not. However, you need to be careful with those ingredients that are not visible to the eyesight. There are many traditional Taiwanese cuisines that are cooked or fried with pork oil, because it is a common cooking technique in Taiwan.
The seven must-visit vegan restaurants / bakery/ cafes in Taipei
1. Ooh Cha Cha
The lovely name of the restaurant comes from the French “oh la la “, which expects people to be impressed after tasting the food. Being cooperated with only local farmers for high-quality, fresh ingredients, Ooh Cha Cha features colorful smoothies, tasty beers, burgers, salads and more. At Ooh Cha Cha Bar, board games nights, cooking teaching, are occasionally held. Check out their Facebook events to make your vegan dining night special.
Location: No. 207, Sec. 2, Nanchang Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City
Flourish is one of the few vegan restaurants in Taipei which offers Japanese style cuisines among European style vegan restaurants. As you walk into Flourish, you will immediately recognize the Japanese style with their decoration and design. Flourish is where you find delicate, delicious Japanese food, yet made of simple ingredients with a vegan twist.
Location: No. 32, Ln. 233, Sec. 1, Dunhua S. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City
Famous in Taipei, YIHOTANG, a chain Japanese style bakery has one of their shops only selling vegan products. Made without any egg, butter, milk, this bakery is not like any other traditional bakery. Instead of traditional pastries ingredients, they replace dairy products with soybean-based products. When feel like snacking, or having desserts, check out YIHOTANG for a wide variety of both savory and sweet bread or Japanese desserts!
Location: No. 323, Fuxing N. Rd., Songshan Dist., Taipei City
The owner of the restaurant is from India, and this gives you a certain answer to authentic Indian curry! Apart from curry, Italian cuisine including pizza and pasta, Vegan Taipei is famous for its desserts. From classic German black forest cake to tasty Italian lemon cake, you will be able to enjoy all kinds of vegan cakes with a discount if you go on Mondays.
Location: No. 130, Rui’an St., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 106, Taiwan
Located in one of the trendy areas in Taipei, the east district (Dong Qu) attracts many young people and cool vibes. Offering burgers, pasta and salads, and all kinds of beverages, you will surely have a trendy dinner night with the stylish industrial design at SOUL R. VEGAN CAFÉ.
Location: No. 6, Aly. 1, Ln. 217, Sec. 3, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City
With wooden utensils and design, the simple but cozy vibe makes Plants a hipster restaurant. The self-made kimchi and sauerkraut at Plants are the must-try. At Plants, they are promoting not only a vegan diet but defining the vegan lifestyle in their own way. Apart from delicious and creative cuisines such as Macrobiotic Tempeh Bibimbap and tropical spring roll, Plants offers organic coffee and energy bowls with superfood such as chia seeds. At Plants, they bring vegan food up to another level, don’t miss out!
Location: No. 10, Ln. 253, Sec. 1, Fuxing S. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City
For vegans, tofu is one of the main sources for protein. At Blossom Rena Vegan Café, you will find delicious tofu cuisines prepared with Japanese style, and “milk tea” but with soybean milk. With a cozy decoration and laid-back atmosphere at Blossom Rena Vegan Café, you will find yourself in a back garden from the hustle and bustle Taipei city.
Location: No. 26-1, Sec. 3, Zhongshan N. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City
Taipei will be your top choice for vegan food
When it comes to good food, Taiwan is one of your top travel destinations. Whether you are a vegan or not, it is always exciting to try something new and exotic. If you happen to be a vegan, traveling to Taipei shouldn’t be something to worry about. Next time when you travel to Taipei, be sure to explore vegetarian and vegan food in Taiwan.
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*Feature Image by Veganliftz