It’s absolutely possible to be a vegetarian or vegan traveler in Vietnam while eating delicious food.
Before leaving on this trip I was prepared to not have a good experience with regards to food and mentally prepared myself to deal with whatever comes.
Our trip was split between very remote areas in the far north and touristy locations. The remote areas in the far north were where we would have had challenges had we not hired a guide. Compared to other parts of Vietnam that area gets far fewer Western tourists. He communicated with all the places we ate at so that they could prepare vegetarian food – and that’s all we cared about.
Those were some of our favorite parts of the trip. We were so far off the beaten path and food was not the driving factor.
Still, the food was tasty. We ate a lot of rice, vegetables and noodles, tofu and spring rolls. We ate more fried food in the last ten days than all of 2022. But again food was not why we went to the destinations we chose.
The touristy half of our trip included Ninh Binh, Halong Bay and Hanoi. There’s a lot of vegetarian and even vegan food in these areas as well as Indian food.
And it’s important to eat well. We’ve been doing 2-4 hour hikes, 4-5 drives. We’re excreting s lot more energy than we realize so staying nourished is important.
I’ve been in Vietnam for 4.5 days and have been eating fully vegan meals every day in off the beaten path and lesser known (to foreign tourists) areas of northern Vietnam. The reason this is possible – the reason I’m having such a good experience is because I booked an all inclusive private tour with a guide. If we were traveling on our own, a la carte, without a guide we would not be having such a fantastic experience. The combo of the language barrier and that vegan and vegetarian diets are so rare here, are barriers.
Even then the definitions of vegetarian aren’t the same and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people have never heard of vegan. Many find chicken or fish, fish sauce ok. Our guide has been invaluable in explaining, asking questions to the staff at all the accommodations we’ve stayed at and reconfirming with them.
We’ve enjoyed tofu, unique tofu-like dishes, noodles (not made from egg), stir fried vegetables, spring rolls, fresh bread, vegan pancakes, fruits and of course garlic fries.
The portions have been enough for four instead of just the two of us. For dessert we’ve been eating fruit. Moreover, we’ve enjoyed fresh food. Processed food has been very minimal.
After this afternoon we are starting the portion of our trip where we will be going to more touristy destinations so it’s only going to get easier from here. We even found some Indian as well as vegan restaurants in Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, and Hanoi.