Cruelty-free dining is commonplace in Taiwan. Taipei in particular, has a wide variety of vegan dining possibilities.From high-end vegetarian restaurants to street vendors, there are a more than 6,000 vegetarian/vegan establishments on the island catering to the 10% of the population that choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
With that in mind, here are our top 6 reasons why Taipei is perfect for vegans:
EATING OUT IS EASY
With a health-conscious culture and Buddhist presence in Taiwan, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options available all over the country. From small mom-and-pop eateries to extravagant buffets, the country offers an insane amount of variety. At least one vegan/vegetarian eatery can be found on a random street in Taipei. They are easy to spot as they will advertise the shop with a big 素 (pronounced as sú) signage or a backward swastika sign.
VEGAN FOOD IS CHEAP
Mom-and-pop eateries along and buffets offer local delights that are cheap, cheap, cheap. In a vegetarian buffet, you are likely to pay around USD 4 (Around NTD120) for a heaping plate full of veggies plus a bowl of rice. The price is even cheaper if you dine in a mom-and-pop or street food place, where you are likely to just pay around USD 2 for a bowl of noodles and a plate of braised tofu on the side.
VEGAN SCENE IS GROWING
Vegetarianism/Veganism isn’t a strange concept in Taiwan. If anything, it is deeply rooted in the Taiwanese religious culture. More recently, as people become more health-conscious, vegetarianism/veganism is no longer confined to religious practices but is becoming a cruelty-free and health-centric lifestyle. Restaurants, bakeries and cafe’s like About Animals, Ooh Cha
Restaurants, bakeries and cafe’s like About Animals, Ooh Cha Cha and Vegan Heaven reflect this. The scene is also gradually shifting away from traditional local dishes to international cuisines, with creativity, taste, and health as the central focus.
ABUNDACE OF LOCAL FRUITS & VEGGIES
Because of the island’s subtropical location, Taiwan has an abundant supply of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Trust me, it is not just the Asian vegetables you see in western supermarkets, there are so much more varieties.
In spring, the farmer markets will be filled with loquat fruits, scallions, and chives. In summer, you see an abundance of mangoes and bamboo shoots. In autumn, you see purple yams, longan fruits, persimmons, and pomelo fruits. And in winter, you get wax apples and chrysanthemum. Not to mention a whole selection of mushrooms all year round!
VEGAN LIFESTYLE IS REPECTED
Because of the faith-based foundation and commonality of vegetarianism and veganism that we mentioned before; you won’t get any comments about protein or funny looks here if you say you are vegan. People will respect your choice and won’t tilt their head in confusion.
People will respect your choice and won’t tilt their head in confusion.
However, some older people may assume that you’re religious, and will promptly warn you if you are about to order something that contains onion, garlic or alcohol.
Some people may also have looser interpretations of the Chinese word for vegan, so in some cases, it can pay to double check that what you’re ordering contains no egg or dairy products.
Veganism for animal rights, environmental and health reasons are still less understood, but as the scene continues to grow, so is people’s awareness.
SOY PRODUCTS ARE NOT JUST TOFU
In the West, you might be lucky if your local supermarket stocks a single kind of tofu. In Taiwan, tofu is part of a larger family.
Most regular suburban supermarkets will carry several kinds of soy product, most notably; Firm and soft tofu, tou-kwa, dou pi, and braised press tofu. You’ll also find an epic selection of soy milk (which in Taiwan is a drink in its own right, and not a milk substitute – some people may look at you funny for putting it into a perfectly good cup of black coffee).
If you’re one of those vegans that likes to dine on mock-swine, then you’re in luck too. Specialty vegan and vegetarian supermarkets like iVegan will carry everything from vegan bacon (made from soy and konjac), to burger patties, to vegan prawns.
So what are you waiting for?
Taiwan is advantageously located at the heart of Asia, making it a convenient destination to visit. It is accessible by direct flights from many major airports in the world. The island offers an endless gastronomic spin for any hungry and curious vegan traveller.