Tagalog Language Phrases for Vegans and Vegetarians Visiting the Philippines

While veganism in the Philippines has grown rapidly in the past few years, the word “vegan” and sometimes “vegetarian” is not common.

In fact, there’s no word for vegan in Tagalog, but I’ll go over tips to help guide you as a vegan in Philippines.

If you’re traveling with non-vegans, or new to veganism and need vegan tips, check out my ultimate Vegan Philippines Guide.

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Yellow banner that says Vegan Picks on it in Angeles, Pampanga Philippines

Is the Philippines Vegan-Friendly?

The safest bet is always all-vegan restaurants in the Philippines.

And when that isn’t an option, it’s always best to learn some basic Filipino Tagalog phrases.

While Tagalog is not the main language spoken in all provinces, it is generally used and understood throughout the Philippines.

Some dishes in restaurants labeled “plant-based” may still have eggs, milk or dairy, so you have to be specific and check ingredients.

How to Say I’m Vegan or Vegetarian in Tagalog

There’s no word for “vegan” in Tagalog. You can try saying a vegan is “like” a vegetarian, but that doesn’t consume eggs, dairy, etc.

Vegetarian ako” means I’m a vegetarian in Tagalog, but being a vegetarian is also not common in the Philippines.

People may also think that not eating meat means you can still eat seafood or chicken. I grew up in a Filipino household and community, and having been vegetarian for 5 years, and vegan for 10 years, I still get offered meat and animal products. 😝

So this is where Tagalog phrases for vegans and vegetarians will be very helpful.

Tables at Cosmic Restaurant in Manila, Philippines with art canvas with colorful flowers

Tips for Eating Vegan in the Philippines

▢ When ordering at non-vegan places, you can ask if a dish can be veganized by removing the obvious: any meat, fish, chicken, eggs, milk, or cheese.

▢ Be extra clear about: mayo, butter, oyster sauce, fish sauce (“patis”), shrimp paste (bagoong) and Magic Sarap (a beef/chicken flavoring).

▢ When in doubt, order stir-fried veggies in simple soy sauce, salt, and pepper (with rice 🍚).

▢ Honey is not commonly used, but for foods that usually contain honey, ask about it. “Pulot” is honey in Tagalog.

Vegan sisig on a sizzling plate at Cosmic Restaurant in Manila, Philippines

Vegan Restaurants and Options in the Philippines

Vegan options in the Philippines are possible, and delicious. You just have to do your research beforehand.

Check my Philippines vegan guide for vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in the Philippines.

Basic Tagalog Vegan Language Phrases

Here are some Tagalog phrases for vegans and vegetarians visiting the Philippines.

My best advice is to just start speaking. Memorize some basics, and practice out loud. Be kind and patient, and have fun with it!

Language Notes:

▢ “Po” is added to sentences as a sign of respect for elders or strangers older than you.

How to Say “I Don’t Eat Meat” in Tagalog

I don’t eat meat: “Hindi po ako kumakain nang karne.” Karne meats anima meat in Filipino. Pronunciation: Hin-dee poh uh-koh koo-mah-kah-in nung car-neh.

How to Ask if it’s Vegan in Tagalog

To check if a food is vegan, you have to ask if it contains certain non-vegan ingredients.

  • You ask: Does this have___? “Meron po itong ____?”
  • Pronunciation: Meh-ron poh it-tong

Their answer:

Yes, there is: “meron.” No, there isn’t: “wala.”

Fill in the blank: “Meron po itong ____?”

Does this have meat?: Meron po itong karne? (car-neh)

Does this have milk?: Meron po itong gatas? (gah-tuss)

Eggs: itlog (it-lowg)

Cheese: keso (keh-soh)

Chicken: manok (muh-nok)

Fish: isda (iss-dah)

Fish Sauce: patis (puh-tiss)

Shrimp Paste: bagoong (buh-goh-ong)

Common Non-Vegan Ingredients to Look for in the Philippines

These ingredients are often used in sauces. If the dish can be made fresh, ask if they can make a dish without any of these ingredients, and just soy sauce or salt & pepper.

Magic Sarap

Adds umami flavor to soups and stews, but has egg and chicken powder.


Some seemingly-all veg dishes may have ground or chopped pork added. Ask if there’s meat (“karne”).


Fish sauce that’s added to some stews. Ask if they can use just salt instead.

Knorr Cubes

Used for flavor in stews. The only vegan Knorr cube is the vegetable-flavored one.


Shrimp paste used in soups and stews.

Oyster Sauce

May be used in vegetable stir-frys. Ask to use soy sauce instead.

Green buko coconuts on a bench in Philippines

Tagalog Language Speaking Tips for Vegans and Vegetarians:

  • Don’t be shy! The more you speak, the better you get.
  • Be respectful when requesting modifications.
  • Have your basic phrases on your phone or written on paper to carry with you.
  • Have fun and always be respectful with it.

Traveling as a vegan can sometimes be difficult, but it also exposes us to learning about cuisines and ingredients used in different cultures, as well as different languages.

Knowing even a bit of the local language can enhance our experiences as a vegan and traveler.

Philippines Travel Quick Links:

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