Here’s my ultimate guide to being a vegan in Philippines, including basic tips, how to order vegan food, language phrases, vegan and vegetarian restaurants to visit, and vegan Filipino dishes and vegan street food to try.
I’ve been to the Philippines over 18 times now in the past decade, with the majority of it as a vegetarian and vegan.
I also grew up in a Filipino household, and you guessed it, am the only vegan 😛
While Filipino cuisine may not be the most vegan-friendly cuisine, Philippines has one of the most active vegan communities I’ve seen, and there are lots of vegan options if you just do a little research.
Hope these vegan Philippines travel tips are helpful for your next trip!
Vegan and traveling soon?
Quick Philippines Facts
▢ Philippines is a country in Southeast Asia with more than 7,600 islands.
▢ It’s split into three main regions: Luzon (north), Visayas (central) and Mindanao (south).
▢ People of the Philippines are called Filipinos and the main national languages are Tagalog and English.
▢ However, the country boasts a diverse group of ethnic groups and languages like Kapampángan, Ilocano, Cebuano, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray and Bicolano.
▢ Currency: Pesos (php) $1 USD = 54 php.
📲 Travel tip: get reliable internet in the Philippines with an Airalo esim. Use my code ROSEAN3468 for $3 USD off your first purchase.
Vegan Philippines: Why You Should Visit as a Vegan
They have an active and close-knit vegan community, one of the most I’ve seen. It’s the place to try the best veganized Filipino cuisine from local vegan businesses and to go to fun vegan Philippines meetups and volunteering events.
In addition to it being an island-hopping travel destination, Philippines is known for their hospitality, including making sure guests are fed, and will try to accommodate a vegan guest.
Veganism in the Philippines
While veganism in the Philippines has grown rapidly in the past few years, the word “vegan” and sometimes “vegetarian” is not common.
People may think that not eating meat means you can still eat seafood or chicken.
Some dishes in restaurants labeled “plant-based” may still have eggs, milk or dairy, so you have to be specific and check ingredients. Plant milk subs are also rare outside of international chains.
The safest route is always all-vegan restaurants. There are vegan versions of basically all Filipino meats, dishes, and condiments sold by local vegan businesses and suppliers. Thankfully, there’s plenty of vegan Philippines restaurants, and the food is worth it!
Do beware that animal cruelty is more obvious and out in the open in the Philippines than in other countries. You will see many deprived street dogs, animal meat markets, and caged animals.
Vegan Philippines Language Starters
▢ English is the second language taught in schools, behind the national language of Tagalog. I’ll be using Tagalog terms for this guide.
▢ There is no word for “vegan” in Tagalog. You can try saying a vegan is “like” a vegetarian, but doesn’t consume eggs, milk, seafood, etc.
▢ The safest bets are always all-vegan restaurants and fresh fruit and veg in a market.
▢ 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.
▢ “Po” is added to sentences as a sign of respect for elders or strangers.
Basic Vegan Tagalog Phrases
- Does this have __ ?: “May __ ba?”
- No, there is none: “Hindi, wala.”
- Yes, there is: “Oo, meron.”
- I don’t eat meat: “Hindi po ako kumakain ng karne.”
- Meat – Karne
- Milk – Gatas
- Eggs – Itlog
- Cheese – Keso
- Chicken – Manok
- Fish – Isda
- Shrimp – Hipon
- Shrimp paste – Bagoong
Vegan Filipino Dishes by Default
Most dishes that are vegan by default will be desserts. Skip to the “Easily-Veganizable Dishes” section to learn how to veganize main and savory dishes.
👩🏻🍳 Related post: 7 Vegan Filipino Dessert Recipes to Make
A sweet stew of coconut milk, glutinous rice balls, tapioca pearls, and sweet potatoes.
A mochi-like flat rice cake made with glutinous rice flour, covered in coconut flakes, and dipped in sugar.
Rice cake made from glutinous sweet rice, coconut milk, and brown sugar. The toppings are coconut curds.
A softer mochi-like sweet rice cake made from rice flour and coconut milk, often with sweetened coconut strips.
Steamed circular rice cakes made with rice flour, brown sugar, and lye water.
Vegan Filipino Street Food To Try
Most street food you’ll see in the Philippines won’t be vegan. But there are some common vegan ones sold by street vendors (mostly desserts).
🍡 Related post: 9 Vegan Filipino Street Foods to Eat in the Philippines
Saba variety bananas coated in brown sugar and fried in oil.
Sweet potatoes coated in brown sugar and fried in oil.
A mix of silken tofu, sugar syrup, and tapioca pearls.
Fresh coconut juice, usually mixed with sugar.
Glutinous rice cake cooked in coconut milk, and wrapped in banana leaves.
A fried spring roll (wrapper is usually vegan) with saba bananas, jackfruit, and sugar.
Fried balls from glutinous rice flour and coconut, dipped in brown sugar syrup. / Get the recipe
Fried peanuts with garlic and salt.
Look for vendors selling fruits pre-cut or whole.
Easy Veganizable Dishes
If you’re at a Filipino restaurant or staying with locals and there’s no vegan dishes available, ask if they can make the following tweaks to veganize these dishes.
Otherwise, they are usually not vegan!
Stir-fried water spinach. Ask if they can cook it in only soy sauce and pepper instead of oyster sauce, and no other seasonings.
A vegetable dish – ask if they can make it fresh with no pork, shrimp, shrimp paste (bagoong), or fish sauce and just soy sauce.
Porridge made with cocoa powder, sugar, and glutinous sweet rice. Instead of cream, ask if they can make it with coconut milk.
A fresh spring roll with bean sprouts and veggies. Ask if they can make it without adding ground meat.
A stew of shredded taro leaves and coconut milk. Ask if they can make it without adding any meat and shrimp paste (bagoong).
Gulay or Chopsuey
Stir-Fry Ask if they can make a stir-fry with whatever vegetables (“gulay”) available or tofu, with just soy sauce. Eat with rice.
Adobong Gulay or Sitaw
Green beans (sitaw) or any veggies cooked in vinegar and soy sauce. Ask if they can make it without meat.
Common Non-Vegan Ingredients to Look for
These ingredients are often used in sauces in Filipino food. 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.
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.
Used for flavor in stews. The only vegan Knorr cube is the vegetable-flavored one.
Shrimp paste used in soups and stews.
May be used in vegetable stir-frys. Ask to use soy sauce instead.
Local Vegan Grocery Snacks To Look For
You’ll find some accidentally-vegan snacks as well as vegan meat product lines in grocery chain stores in the Philippines.
Fruits to Try
This will depend on the season, but these are must try produce! Most fruit are imported from southern Philippines. There are way more, but here are a few common ones you’ll find.
Along with Thailand, Philippines has some of the sweetest mangoes!
Similar to a custard fruit
A sweet-sour fruit
Grocery Stores to Find Vegan Items
Depending on the location, you can find vegan meats and vegan-by-default snacks and items in large chain stores in the Philippines. For vegan-branded and imported vegan goods, the smaller chain stores listed are the go-to’s.
UnMEAT Vegan Meat
You’ll find the UnMEAT vegan meats in most chain grocery stores like SM and Robinsons. They offer frozen vegan ground meat, hot dogs, and burgers. Some stores may also carry their canned vegan spam.
Veega Vegan Meat
Veega is another common brand you’ll see. Note a few of their products like the hotdogs are not vegan. The vegan ones have the orange border with the “Vegan line” on it. They offer vegan Filipino meats like tocino, adobo flakes, and tapa that are really good.
If you have more time, you can find many vegan items in the Philippines by shopping online (most only accept Ggash or local bank payments).
Large Chain Stores: SM Supermarket, Robinsons Supermarket, Walter Mart, S&R
Smaller Chain Stores: Healthy Options, The Vegan Grocer
Online: Shopee, Whole Mart
There’s SO MANY online vegan Philippines product sellers. Go here to browse the Facebook Vegan Philippines Marketplace.
Vegan & Mostly-Vegan Restaurants
You can also check out my Google Maps with vegan restaurants and vegan food options in Manila and Pampanga.
If you’re specifially visiting Makati, read 7 Most Popular Vegan Restaurants in Makati to Try in 2024.
- Cosmic Philippines (Makati + Pasig) – Possibly my favorite vegan restaurant in the Philippines. If you want to try vegan Filipino food, this is the place. Their sisig is a must.
- Wabi-Sabi (Makati + Quezon City) – This vegetarian restaurant serves a mostly vegan menu with Japanese food, including vegan tantanmen ramen and really good side dishes. In the same restaurant is a stall for vegan kakigori, or Japanese-style shaved ice. The matcha one is SO good.
- Greenery Kitchen (Makati) – One of the top vegan Filipino restaurants I’ve tried. They also have a stall at Terminal 3 arrivals at the NAIA airport in Manila!
- Theejay BBQ (Manila) – They serve the best vegan Filipino BBQ I’ve ever eaten. And all of their vegan Filipino dishes are just as good.
- Green Bar (Makati) – If you’re craving dishes like vegan burgers, donuts, or veggie rice bowls, Green Bar is the place to go!
- Kahatea (multiple locations) – Make sure to ask to make the drinks vegan, as they make the best vegan Filipino milk tea! I crave vegan leche flan milk tea often.
- Shaka Cafe (Mall of Asia) – If you find yourself at the Mall of Asia, heada to Shaka, an all-vegan cafe chain serving up burgers, smoothies, and desserts.
- Pizza Plant (San Juan, Manila) – Craving pizza? Order from Pizza Plant, an all vegan pizzeria. I’ve tried a few of their pizzas, and all were solid!
1) Use the search bar in the Manila Vegans Facebook group to see more options in the city you’re visiting.
2) Check HappyCow.net filtered by city for vegan Philippines food options. These are the restaurants I’ve either been to, or are popular with local vegans.
Vegan Philippines Travel Bloggers
If you know any Philippine-based vegan travel bloggers/nomads to add, let me know!
Facebook Groups to Join
Manila Vegans – Largest online vegan community group in the Philippines. You’ll find all vegan businesses & restaurants here that you won’t find in a Google Search.
Vegan Marketplace PH – Product postings from local vegan Philippines businesses.
Tip: to check for options specific to the city you’re visiting:
- Check HappyCow.net
- Use the search bar in the Manila Vegans Facebook group.
- Search for “Vegan [insert city/region] in Facebook and filter by groups.
Vegan Events & Activities
- VegFest Pilipinas, usually in November
Vegan Philippines events to look out for:
- Good Food Sundays, every Sunday in Manila
- Manila Vegans FB Group Events Page
- Legazpi Sunday Market in Makati
Philippines Travel Quick Links:
📲 Local sim card or eSIM card from Airalo
🚊 Ride from the airport: prebook a ride | airport shuttle bus
🎫 Browse through dozens of available Philippines tours