Veganism in Taiwan is more common than the average vegan would think. Taiwan, often named as one of most vegan friendly travel destinations in the world! And for a good reason too!
This is because Taiwanese buddhists follow a similar approach to Veganism. Traditionally they would abstain from eating any animal products and even exclude onion and garlic from their food. Nowadays you can sometimes find milk and egg added to the foods, but it is still one of the safest bets for vegans.
The government supports reduction of meat consumption by declaring “Meatless Mondays” where the residents are advised not to consume any meat.
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.
全素 Quan su / Chew-en su
Is the most important word you should memorize, since it means Vegan – but a Taiwanese buddhist version that also excludes garlic and onion from its cooking.
Since english is not always understood by the locals, it would be a smart move to lean and print out our Vegan Vocabulary tab, so you can use it whenever you need.
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.
One of the biggest highlights, and a must activity for any vegan, are the street markets. Vegans can find a huge selection of more than 40 typically vegan dishes. Find our guide to Taiwanese Vegan street food, so you will know for what foods you should be on the lookout for.
By all means, go for the street food. Some of the food you will find will include 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.
To get to know some of the most common vegan food options that await you in Taiwan. Be sure to go over our Taiwanese Local Food guide.
When looking for authentic Taiwanese vegan restaurants, be sure to check out for one these signs:
These local signs indicate that the restaurant serves food suitable for monks, and more often than not also suitable for us happy vegans. This also means that no onion or garlic will be added to the prepared foods. This is especially useful if you are outside of Taipei in the more rural areas of the country.
Still have questions? Visit our Taiwan Forum tab to get all the answers.
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