For many people, Manila is not a top travel destination. The traffic is terrible, the heat can be sweltering and one if it’s greatest achievements is being home to several of the world’s top ten biggest malls.
But vegans should be putting Manila right near the top of their list as a sort-of pilgrimage. Sure the Filipino diet is a meat heavy one; we touched on that in our Boracay post, but there is something special about the young but thriving vegan scene in Manila.
The friendliness, warmth and kindness of the Filipino people is very evident in the Manila vegan scene, and I think it is -this- trait that gives Manila a unique position on the vegan world map: Because it is more than just a scene, it is a community, and one of the most active and inspiring I have seen while being in this part of the world.
Just one look at the Manila Vegans Facebook group will show you what I mean. Regular meets and events, lots of discussion and engagement, and of course; people launching their own vegan businesses and doing so with great success – because the community is supporting them!
We met a few of these businesses while walking around Legaspi Sunday Market in Makati. Inspiring individuals who aren’t afraid of a bit of hard work, and who embody the very best of veganism and entrepreneurship combined.
There’s no better place to soak up this warm vibe than at the Legaspi Sunday Market. So it’s just perfect that Sunday is the one day of the week when Manila traffic is actually not too bad, and it only took us 15 minutes to get there from where we were staying in Greenhills (on a weekday this would take an hour!)
We had arrived at the Legaspi Sunday Market looking for one specific stall – In a Nutshell.
In a Nutshell create artisan vegan cultured cheeses. Started by Joel, who found himself in Manila with nothing to do and a bit of vegan cheese making experience from back in the UK, he makes the delicious varieties of cheeses himself with cashews and soy as a base from his small kitchen, and delivers them by riding around in Manilas famous Jeepneys with a cooler bag strapped to his back.
On Sundays though, you’ll find Joel and his girlfriend selling his cheese and slapping them into delicious toasties here at the market. All of the cheeses are out of this world, but the smoked gouda was on top as our favorite, both standalone and inside a toasted sandwich!
We had the opportunity to talk to Joel extensively over the best double cheese burger found in Manila, and like with so many of the other vegan-entrepreneurs we met, were left absolutely inspired. If only every city in the world had a vegan community as supportive and thriving!
Further into the market we also happened to stumble across another industrious vegan company – Cocoburg – Coconut Jerky. Cocoburg had been around for a while already, primarily producing for export to the US market (headquarters is in NY). More recently Tyler from Cocoburg decided to come to the Philippines to oversee production and begin selling in the local market as well. There are a few flavors available; but the chilli-lime flavor was our favorite.
As well as these two great fully-vegan products you will also find Adams Ice Cream who have a number of dairy-free flavors, some other vegan-friendly food stalls, plenty of beverage options and a wide range of crafts. Many of these crafts are also ethical or environmentally-conscious; such as the bags made from recycled tyre
In summary, the Legaspi Sunday Market is a must-do for vegan travellers in Manila, a city which, despite all of our pre-conceptions, is actually a wonderful city for vegans to check out.