The cultural history of Vietnam explains easily why vegetarian food is so readily available. Historically, strong Buddhist influences in a country with a poor economy meant that for many, meat was never a high priority, if one at all. The country is probably one of the best in the world for satisfying the culinary needs of a vegetarian.

You will not struggle to find top class vegetarian food in Hanoi. Almost all the local restaurants will have vegetarian alternatives and there are some truly special purely vegetarian establishments. They are spread throughout the city.

Thiet Phat Vegetarian restaurant takes the art of vegetarian cooking to a new level. The restaurant on Ly Thuong Kiet specialises in excellent vegetarian and vegan cookery. Head Chef Nguyen Van Ninh had years of experience cooking and tasting food in pagodas before he opened this restaurant.

Another vegetarian friendly place is the impressive Com Chay Ha Thanh restaurant. The service staff here are all practising vegetarians so you can be sure that what you get is the real deal. The food is both nutritious and delicious with all dishes made with passion by highly-skilled and experienced cooks. This is an interesting place with Buddhist monks often dropping in at lunchtime.

Bo De Tam Vegetarian Restaurant is on the shore road to the north of Ngoc Khanh Lake a couple of miles to the west of the Old Quarter. They serve good vegetarian food and have an extensive range of vegan specialities as well. The service staff don’t speak great English and having a guide with you would be of benefit. It’s worth the effort.

So, as you can see there are plenty of alternatives in and around the centre of Hanoi that cater for those who prefer not to eat meat. A good local insight is to follow the monks at lunch time.