Taiwan boasts a large population of vegetarians and vegans due in part to its Buddhist population and the government’s support for “Meatless Monday.” Numerous restaurants offer plant-based and vegan options and the first vegan supermarket (called iVegan) has recently opened in Taipei. Night Markets are great places to find many vegan options, check out our Full Vegan Night Market Guide with more than 40 different vegan options.
So it should be easy to find vegan options in Taiwan, even in non-vegan restaurants. This being said, you will need to proceed cautiously:
Your first difficulty is that all signs on the streets will be written in Chinese characters, usually with no English translations. So, you will need to learn the sign for “vegetarian” when searching for an impromptu restaurant (素食餐厅 -pronounced Su-shi Canting. Su – means “vegetarian”). Vegan sometimes means vegetarian and you might find eggs and dairy included in some dishes, including in Buddhist places defined as vegan. Vegan is instead called “fully vegetarian” (全素 – pronounced Quan Su). Make sure to show this label when you eat somewhere unless the restaurant is 100% vegan. Use our Vegan Words tab.
You may think you’re in vegan heaven when you see “fake meat” on one of the menus in a non-vegan restaurant. Unfortunately, most fake meat includes eggs and/or dairy and /or real meat, unless you are in a 100% vegan restaurant.
By all means, go for the street food. Vegan dumplings, sesame noodles, vegetable soups with vegetable base for the actual soup are usually pretty safe. Beware of candy and wobbly desserts made with coconut milk as they usually contain gelatin. Indulge in the buffets, especially the steamed greens but keep the above cautions in mind. Also remember that fish sauce is seen as a condiment and used frequently.
Otherwise have fun slaloming the diverse and delicious Taiwanese vegan food panorama!
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