Is it difficult to be a vegan/vegetarian in Taiwan?
When we travel around Asia, especially in Taiwan, people always ask: isn’t hard to find food when you are vegan? To that question, we always answer yes and no. It really depends on your preferences and og know know where to look for the food.
For us, it has been very convenient to have a piece of paper saying what we can’t eat(meat, eggs, fish and milk). This is a smart trick that I highly recommend to all vegans/vegetarians who are going to Taiwan or just Asia in general. You can either copy this or get a Taiwanese to write it for you. With this paper, you can fully explore your options and find delicious vegan/vegetarian food totally unexpected places. You just show the paper and then the employee will show you your options.
Another trick is to make your own food, if you are staying in a place with a kitchen (like T-life hostel). This way you can save money and make sure that it is completely vegan/vegetarian.
What about street food?
It really depends on where in Taiwan you are. We found it more difficult to find food in the southern part of Taiwan. This was maybe due to the fact that we went in the off season. The longer up north we got, the easier it got to find delicious cheap food on the streets. The only thing to keep in mind is that many of the street food stalls only open at night, so for lunch time you might have to find a restaurant or a cafe.
The street food is mostly found at the night markets. Here you can find all different kinds of food to try. I recommend you trying the stinky tofu and bubble tea. If you drink milk it’s no problem to find bubble tea in the original flavour, but if you don’t can it be a challenge. We got so excited when we finally found bubble tea made with soy milk in the original flavour.
The pictures show the stall where we got the vegan soy milk bubble tea. The pricing is really good and the owner is so kind and helpful. She even speaks really good English.
You are not going to miss out
Many of the local foods are vegetarian or can easily be made either vegan or vegetarian. A good example is hot pot. This dish is very popular in Taiwan- with good reason. Many hot pot places even have a vegetarian option on their menu. Otherwise just ask if the soup is made with bone stock and then have the menu without meat.
Hot pot in Taichung (150 TWD) free rice, drinks and ice cream included in the price.
Hot pot in Hualien (250 TWD) no complementary drinks or free extra rice.
These are a pictures of hot pot. It will keep you full for at long time and is a great option for lunch or dinner, as many places also offer free rice and drinks (some even have free ice cream with the menu as well). If you are staying at T-life Hostel, there is a great hot pot place just down the road that offers a vegetarian option. You can ask the staff for directions.
Is it expensive to eat vegan/vegetarian in Taiwan?
It truly depends on your preferences and budget. If you, like us, are on a budget then it’s fairly cheap. You can get a meal at a fully vegetarian restaurant for around 80 TWD or a cup noodle in 7/11 for 25 TWD. If you want to try the hot pot (which I highly recommend) you will have to pay around 150 TWD. The street food is another cheap option.
You still have to keep in mind that the prices differ from place to places be also what time of the year you go. We also found the food to be more expensive in the southern and eastern part. For example are the prices in Hualien and Kaohsiung the double of Taichung.
If you are backpacking and on a budget, a smart trick is to stay in hostels with a kitchen. Then you can make your own meals for really cheap. It is also a great way to meet new people and learn about their culture.
Should I go to Taiwan even though I’m vegan/vegetarian?
Yes! There’s so many options, you just have to know the tricks (which I have given you in this article). The quality of the food is so high, you don’t have to worry about getting sick. This counts for both the street food, restaurants and the convenience stores.