Traveling the world and exploring new cultures is the core passion of a traveler. And food is a big part of every culture. Leaving a country without tasting its spice and flavor is just unacceptable. While there are many travelers, you may say there is only two kinds of travelers. You are either part of the vegetarian or a non-vegetarian.
For vegans and vegetarians, it’s important to ask questions about how restaurant food is prepared before ordering it. Many soups and sauces that don’t seem to contain meat are made with chicken or beef stock, tortillas are sometimes made with lard, and fried foods may be made with animal fat. So here is a food guide to Vegan food in Manila.
Serving not only healthy but also food with big flavors. They have make-your-own rice bowls using Filipino ingredients. What’s better is they also offer meat for your non-vegetarian travel buddies. Berde presents elevated carenderia bowls in this fast-casual concept made for the Filipino. Diners either pick a signature dish or customize their own bowls to their liking, making healthy food that much more accessible and appealing. You can start with a base of rice or salad, and then add on as many accouterments as you please. Their approach to a well-rounded lifestyle is threefold. The bowls are nutritiously healthy because they are created with fresh, organic ingredients. They are locally healthy because all produce helps to provide livelihood and support to local farmers. Lastly, Berde is environmentally healthy because it promotes sustainable farming practices.
Pipino, headed by artist Alyssa Lanot, has interesting takes on plant-based dishes, including veggie sinigang (tamarind broth with string beans, taro, eggplant, and tofu), cream of kalabasa (squash) soup, mushroom salpicao (traditionally beef stir-fried in garlic and Worcestershire), tofu lemongrass skewers, and even a potato pancake and tofu scramble. Pipino sources locally-grown fruits and vegetables for creative Filipino vegan dishes, taking a new taste to familiar flavors, textures, and ingredients to satisfy the palate of vegetarians and meat-lovers alike, proving that 100% plant-based meals can be both healthy and delicious.
Satinka Naturals Bistro & Cafe
Satinka evokes an indie-bistro, retro-themed, and minimalist casual dining place with a homey atmosphere. Inside, you can see artsy paintings and legendary portraits of local gods hanging on the wall. As you dine, soothing background music plays that complete a cozy dining experience. Its name, from the Filipino sa atin ka (“our own”), speaks to the goal of representing local dishes, with the menu serving up organic food with ingredients sourced from the mountain regions of Cordillera. Afritada (meat braised in tomato sauce) and adobo cover the intensely flavored local front. Its own spin on adobo, made by slow-cooking veggie meat in bignay (Cordillera rice wine) amino sauce, and vegan barbecue sauce tossed with roasted potatoes and a side of mountain-region-sourced red rice.
Lucy in the Sky
Lucy in the Sky is an artsy café that boasts of colorful, homey interiors that strikingly resemble a dollhouse. The restaurant’s menu consists of reinterpreted Filipino dishes that are vegan and vegetarian-friendly. Dine with colors in Lucy in the Sky and if you’re traveling with kids, call in advance and book a workshop that offers drawing and painting lessons. Lucy in the sky serves homegrown vegetarians dishes that her family has developed through the years. It’s what they actually eat at home. “We all have our specialties. Mine are the kinds of pasta, my mom’s the burger, as the name suggests, so all of us have contributions.” Given the simple flavors, the excellent service, and all the homey effort put into the food and the experience, it’s hard not to stay for another round. It’s vegetarian, anyway. Surely, it can’t be all that fattening.
One of the OG salad bar concepts in the country, Juju Eats was born from the makers of the Juju Cleanse program in 2013. Husband and wife duo David and Katharina Rempe Azanza decided to expand their healthy juicing offerings into a healthy sit-down restaurant concept with a la carte and DIY salads on Pasong Tamo Extension. Juju Eats is a healthy fast-food chain offering a slew of nutritious options such as grilled paninis, wraps, salads, pasta, and their signature red rice bowls. Though the menu is not vegan, they do have some good veggie options and when it comes to all-day snacks and breakfast, they are very vegan-friendly: think cold-pressed juices, smoothies, nut milk, cold brews, chia puddings, and overnight oats.
Corner Tree Cafe
known for its wholesome, vegetarian comfort food served in a cozy, charming colonial house. The menu takes inspiration from Asia to Africa, via the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. Corner Tree regularly appears on Best Restaurant lists and it’s no wonder why, the food is as delicious as it is unpretentious and non-veggies will not miss the meat. The expansive menu has plenty to offer vegans (items are clearly marked for easy ordering) including sweet meal-enders like housemade citrus sorbet, raw apple pie, and carrot cake.
The Spinach Feta Croquettes are also popular, made with feta cheese that you can taste from the get-go. The feta is mixed with red rice and herbs and is accompanied by a subtle, organic mint-and-yogurt sauce. Those who love all things spicy would appreciate a slather of the homemade harissa, served on the side. The vibe is also delightful. There’s a big tree out the front, a little library inside and the staff are oh so friendly. If you pay a visit, be sure to check out the notice board in the entrance – it will lead you in the direction of other hippy hangouts around town such as yoga joints and raw food cooking classes that support the local economy and get you mixing with the locals.