About four years ago, I decided to move to Southeast Asia after a couple of years back in my birth country Switzerland. After arriving in Thailand, I went to one of the bigger islands in Thailand, where I found a bungalow on the beach in a smaller bay. It was summer in the middle of the low season. There were not many people on the island. The local staff took the opportunity to relax and to take the workday slow. Feeling hungry after a long trip coming on an overnight bus, I wanted to order some food at the place I stayed. I immediately saw there was no special vegetarian section on the menu. I explained to the place owner my Vegan food desire which excludes meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. The woman, reluctantly, had to tell me that all her food included fish sauce or shrimp paste. Nothing unusual, So many times, I received food with egg in it, or even chicken, just because the restaurant staff could not imagine serving ‘only’ vegetables. I also was served plain cooked vegetables without any flavour, them making sure they didn’t offer me anything wrong. This lady suggested eating French Fries skipping mayo.
I knew that I had to find a Western place because in general, they had a bit a better understanding of my eating habits. I hoped that on a more or less famous tourist place things would be easy. My eating habits usually only caused difficulties in small places or when people invited me to their homes.
Thus, this evening, I went in search of a more modern Western-oriented restaurant. Renting a motorbike, I drove for about 10 minutes to find a nice Italian place on a hill. The view over volcanic hills and different bays was stunning. And, it had a few Vegetarian options on their menu. Though, their main focus was meat as I experienced it in many places except Bangkok. In the capital city, a local woman managed a small vegetarian Thai Food Chain with the support of her American husband. Finding an only Vegetarian place in a tourist place outside of Bangkok was impossible.
Now, just a few years later, things changed. The Vegan lifestyle has become mainstream in certain groups of travellers. Hotspots for yoga, spirituality and self-finding retreats popped up and boom along with hip vegan and even raw vegan restaurants. The prices are at high-end, but you receive high quality and high nutrient food, organic, or as a plus homegrown.
But, this change did not only affect the health travel scene. The awareness among the local population rises and the knowledge about the Vegan diet spread. Now, generally in any tourist place, some small local shops offer 2 or 3 plant-based menus. Some are aware of using organic ingredients and staying away from artificial aroma enhancers like MSG. Chemical add ons are widespread in South East Asia. I hope this new awareness of the danger of food preservatives will affect the local communities as well.
One of these Vegan places in a small village is our restaurant in Amed. This fishing village lies at the Northeast Coast in Bali with a marvellous view on Bali’s highest volcano called Mount Agung. The restaurant is located on a rooftop next to the beach and offers stunning sunsets. 95% of our food is Vegan. We easily can adjust non-vegan options by exchanging certain ingredients. We still use dairy products because in the traditional Indian cuisine dairy is an important ingredient often used. We like to create authentic Indian food as best as we can. I honestly and proudly can say that our cook fully understands the concept of Indian Vegan and Vegetarian food. He is very creative helping customers with special needs to adjust the menu. We hope we soon can welcome you and look forward to meeting you.