Adjusting to Veganism in Vietnam
Updated: Nov 17, 2019
Have you ever traveled somewhere new and thought "now is my chance to reinvent myself and start living the clean lifestyle I've always wanted to live?" Well if you have you are not the first and certainly not the last to think this way. One of my favorite things about traveling has always been the opportunity it provides to do things the way I've always wanted. One life change I've been yearning to make for the longest time is changing my vegetarian lifestyle to completely plant based. I've certainly dabbled around with being vegan in the past and greatly enjoyed the affects. Since completing my yoga training just a month before moving to Vietnam, I figured one way to enhance my Ayurveda living is through the food I eat.
While I was super excited to embrace my vegan lifestyle I certainly didn't account for the daily challenges I would come to face by living in a new city where I don't speak the native language. Following various vegan food bloggers on social media can make the lifestyle look much easier than it really is when you just want to tell your smoothie maker to leave out the milk. The language barrier is definitely the biggest challenge I have faced when it comes to the food scene here in Vietnam. As if in person communication isn't a struggle enough, there are apps you can use to order delivery for vegan food. Only catch is, the meal names are of course written in Vietnamese.
While it may sound like a never ending struggle as searching for vegan food can turn into an adventure don't let that discourage you from finding your vegan lifestyle. You just have to find the humor in the fact that finding vegan food on foot could take up to 45 mins while you end up walking in a large square in the back alleyways where all the best vegan restaurants hideaway. If you go with others, which is advised when walking in the alleys as a foreigner, it can become a fun adventure. When you conquer that struggle and finally sit down to have a warm home cooked meal of tofu and sautéed veggies it tastes so much better.
As more shops and restaurants are booming by becoming ecologically sustainable, the market for vegetarians and vegans is becoming much more accessible. Nowadays there is practically a group for every type of category you could belong to. In Saigon, Facebook is one of the top networking sources to find just about anything you need and it has been the ultimate game changer in making my vegan life so much easier to follow. If you are looking for a specific type of vegan food like vegan Mexican, just ask Facebook and within 15 mins you'll probably get up to 15 responses. I've seen it all from food recommendations, skin care products yogurt delivery, sustainable vegan clothing shops. It's all out there. So while I would first recommend using Facebook and joining the groups that align with your lifestyle there are also apps for vegans or google but Facebook reaches the most people and most reliable for recent posts.
Just know that even if it feels hopeless when you first start out and somedays you think it is easier to not eat at all, know that there are so many resources and people just like you searching for the same things. One huge advantage of living in a major city is that there has to be options for all. You may end up paying a little extra at some of the fancier vegan specific restaurants, but there are certainly inexpensive veggie options as well. One advantage I saw in being vegan in Vietnam is that there isn't much dairy in Asian cuisine so as long as you like traditional Vietnamese food you should be safe. Just avoid their tea and coffee because they love to put heaps of milk and sugar in all the drinks! The Vietnamese think I am so weird when I ask for no milk no sugar in my matcha or cacao beverages. But hey, what are you gonna do while they're used to sweetness in the drinks I'm not. I'm just looking forward to the day I move into my permanent place with a kitchen of my own to make some daily healthy juice and smoothie elixirs.
#Vegan #VeganinSaigon #Plantbasedeating #Plantbasednutrition