To be completely honest, life for a vegetarian or a vegan in Asia can be quite difficult. Whilst the Asian diet uses less meat in general, most dishes do contain some meat and just about all will contain fish sauce or some other forbidden ingredient. Many eat vegetarian food, not because they won’t eat animals, but because they simply have vegetarian dishes alongside meat dishes. There are of course some excellent vegetarian Vietnamese dishes, for example Com Chay (vegetarian rice), Pho Chay (the famous Vietnamese pho with no meat), Hu Tieu (noodle soup). However, even with these you will have to ask that they don’t use fish sauce. In the small triangular shaped District 4 there are many shops and stalls selling Com Chay.
Vegans need not fret either. One excellent vegan restaurant is the delightfully named Loving Hut located at 38 Huynh Khuong Ninh in District 1. This is rather special, a true model of how to make vegan food that tastes fantastic. Their Aubergine Hotpot is absolutely delicious. In District 3, Hum Vegetarian have mastered the art of combining meat free ingredients to create delicious meals. The restaurant is beautifully appointed and the decor welcoming.
Increasingly, as the expat community expands in this ever growing city, vegetarianism and veganism will be even more prevalent. In the popular District 1, you should have little trouble satisfying your meat free palate. The more high-end restaurants, like those in the five star hotels, will in general have meat free alternatives on their extensive menus. It’s just a case of careful planning and not being afraid of asking questions, and insisting on no meat products. The city is moving fast, though, and alternative dietary requirements is one of the things that is improving at a consistent pace.