Meat-ridden sois (streets) and carnivore-friendly menus may have some vegetarians and vegans feeling disheartened while in Thailand. Do not be dismayed, though — Thailand has some of the most delicious vegetarian dishes that you can not find anywhere else. Here, discover the top eight vegetarian Thai dishes that you must try during your next visit.
Laab Jay (Vegan Laab)
This might be a strange food to add to the list — laab usually only consists of lettuce leaves and … meat. Yes, laab is a spicy meat salad that originates from the north of Thailand and is a popular dish in Laos. This dish varies from region to region, and can be adjusted to be made vegetarian. That being said, this is one of our favorite vegetarian dishes in Thailand. Replace the meat with some tofu and it is just as delicious, if not more, than its original counterpart. Be warned — this salad consists of a variety of spices, of which tend to be on the spicier side. If you’re in the mood to switch it up, have it served with pumpkin and onions.
Tao Hoo Song Kreung (Mixed Tofu)
Pad Phak (Stir-Fried Vegetables)
This Thai classic will leave vegetarians and carnivores alike full and content. Most Thai dishes attempt to combine as many flavors as possible to make the most noteworthy dishes, and stir-fried vegetables are no exception. While these veggies may sound rather bland, when they’re combined with a spoonful of sugar, salt and some spices, you may find yourself ordering another helping of this delicious dish.
Pak Boong (Morning Glory)
This is one of Thailand’s most popular foods, yet most of us are only familiar with the flower. As delicious as morning glory is, this dish only consists of a few ingredients and is known for being extremely healthy. This salad is seasoned with soybean paste, soy sauce, garlic, chilies and more. Morning glory is somehow salty, spicy, sour and crunchy all at the same time, satisfying anyone’s palette. This dish is oftentimes made with oyster sauce, so to keep it vegetarian, be sure to tell whoever is making your meal that you would like it omitted.
Pad Thai (Thai Stir-Fried Noodles)
Pad Thai is normally served with some type of meat, such as shrimp or chicken. This famous dish, however, is just as delicious when these ingredients are omitted. You can find pad thai on almost every soi (street). Roadside vendors cook up this delicious dish in a large wok right in front of you — watch as each ingredient is meticulously added, as timing is very important in the making of this well-known Thai meal.
Som Tum (Papaya Salad)
Vegetarian or not, this is one of our favorite Thai dishes of all time. This mouthwatering meal is made up of garlic, sugar, lime and tamarind juice. In combination with freshly shredded green papaya, juicy tomatoes and delicious peanuts, you can not go wrong while ordering this meal. Be sure to tell whoever is making your salad that you are mawng sa vee rat or gin jay (vegetarian/vegan) — this salad is usually prepared with fish sauce and dried shrimp.
Gang Jay (Vegetarian Curry)
Thailand is crawling with curry — green curry, panang curry and massaman curry are just a few spicy dishes that have put Thailand on the foodie map. One of the best ways to enjoy the country’s wide array of curries is with a good serving of tofu. Thailand’s vegetarian curries are piled high with some sort of protein substitute and are just as delicious as their meat counterparts.
Pad Phuk Tong (Stir-Fried Pumpkin)
Thailand has found a much better use for pumpkins than just carving them in the fall; stir-fried pumpkin, or pad phuk tong, is one of the best vegetarian dishes in the Land of Smiles. Stir-fried pumpkin is not necessarily on the menu of most Western restaurants, but after you give it a try, you might wish that it was. While it is more difficult to find than a good helping of pad thai, you should definitely be on the lookout for this dish.
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