Understanding the rise of vegan restaurants in Bangkok: Is the future plant-based?

A few years ago, restaurants which didn’t have meat options on their menus were unheard of. Today, it is difficult to keep up with the pace at which vegan cafes and restaurants are opening in Bangkok. Today, there are so many options for people following a plant-based diet.

Rise of vegan restaurants

Did you know that for the past few years, Chiang Mai has held the top place as the most vegan-friendly city in the world. Yes, the top city in the whole world!!!

In the last 2 years alone, there have been more than 20 vegan restaurants which opened in Bangkok. There are also many others which are offering vegan food on their menu. Some of the best chefs in Bangkok are creating vegan dishes now.

We really wanted to understand this phenomenal rise of vegan restaurants and vegan food in Bangkok so we spoke to the best plant-based chefs in Bangkok to get their opinion on whether this is just a passing trend or we can finally say that plant-based is the future.

Sarita Kovatana, Founder and Head Chef

 Chef For Change

https://www.instagram.com/chefforchange

Q: What do you personally feel is contributing to the rise of vegan restaurants in Bangkok based on your customer feedback and reviews?

Sarita Kovatana: I personally think the western expats from other cities who live in Thailand have contributed to the rise in vegan restaurants and vegan food but now it is slowly and steadily creeping into Thai culture too. Some people are probably going to vegan cafes because many Thai influencers and models are posting and promoting veganism on social media applications, it is being seen as something trendy for youngsters.

It is definitely a rising trend to see Thai influencers sharing posts on Instagram about vegan food, this influences the larger Thai society and culture. Everytime, they share a picture of a yummy vegan dish, it increases curiosity about veganism. This could be one reason for more vegan cafes opening.

Rise of vegan restaurants

Also, countries in Asia like Thailand usually link the act of omitting meat or certain kinds of animals as a part of their religious ceremonies. In fact, Thailand goes vegan for one month every year as a part of a religious ritual and it is common to see jay menus across restaurants in Thailand during that month. So, veganism is not something new to Thai people. There have always been a few vegan options on Thai menus.

Youngsters in Bangkok are understanding the impact of meat on climate change and are willing to slowly change their food habits if they are given an option.There is an increasing demand for vegan restaurants in Bangkok and businesses are willing to add vegan options on their menu now. 

Q: Why and what made you consider opening a vegan restaurant?

Sarita Kovatana: I was a heavy meat eater but I switched to a plant-based diet in 2019. Many people in my circle say that they can never go vegan because it’s either boring or they will miss certain kinds of food. I personally love to cook and I cook plant-based dishes for my family on a regular basis so I wanted to open my own cafe.

I started my cafe to inspire others to go plant-based through my food. I want people to understand that they can enjoy delicious food without animals suffering and I also feel that eating plant-based food is the best way to slow down the impact of climate change. I personally love creating vegan menus which are healthy and yummy.

 Julia Panchkowry, Founder and Business Coach

The Banana Warrior Cafe

https://www.instagram.com/the.banana.warrior.cafe/

Q: What do you personally feel is contributing to the rise of vegan restaurants in Bangkok based on your customer feedback and reviews?

Julia Panchkowry: Most people are interested in healthier lifestyle options. Veganism or vegan food, when done properly, comes in handy in helping people to achieve this, even if it implies putting additional plants to  users’ diets. People want to eat out and chill in a restaurant or cafe but they are also looking for healthy restaurants and cafes which are also tasty and fun. Creative plant-based food can be healthy and delicious.

It has become super popular and fashionable to become a vegan now which is actually a great thing because it is enticing more and more people to make more conscious choices and giving the opportunity to learn how good that feels both physically and spiritually. I am happy to see more vegan restaurants are starting operations in Bangkok.

Q: Why and what made you consider opening a vegan cafe?

Julia Panchkowry:I love being creative with food, so creating dishes made from plants and finding new exciting ways to work with food has always been exciting to me. The food at our cafe is healthy and creative, I want people to have a dining experience which is truly joyful. I want to give people the option of eating healthy plant-based food which is tasty and good for your body.

We are at the emquartier which is one of Bangkok’s premium malls and it is easy to find us. People come just to eat at the cafe or they visit us when they are taking a shopping break.

 Giri, Founder and Head Chef

Rise of vegan restaurants

Saptha Bangkok

https://www.instagram.com/sapthabkk/

Q: What do you personally feel is contributing to the rise of vegan restaurants in Bangkok based on your customer feedback and reviews?

Giri:In my opinion, Thailand has predominantly been a meat and seafood oriented cuisine. The Thai people needed a lot of local food to be turned into plant-based/ vegan dishes. The social media outrage with Thai influencers and models made the average Bangokian curious about vegan food.

The meat companies identified and understood this sentiment and the global trend accelerated the speed of Thai companies investing in plant-based meat.

The underlying push of mock meat companies and the invisible hands of influencers, chefs and the global trend of veganism and plant based lifestyle has played the primary role in the opening of many vegan cafes across Bangkok.

Q: Why and what made you consider opening a vegan cafe?

Giri: I turned vegan in 2015 June, after seeing my mom fight cancer. Through her treatment I was researching and understanding the basic principles of commercial food production and how it is abused. At Saptha, we focus on educating the customer of the benefits of diversity and plastic free food. I started Sapta because it is not easy to find plant-based Indian food. I want to give the option to consumers who want to eat a yummy, healthy and delicious plant-based version of the unique flavors of south indian cuisine. 

Indian food has a lot of dairy in it and most Indians are also new to the concept of veganism. Traditionally, India has had many vegetarians, veganism is still at a nascent stage in India but I personally think it is very easy to cook Indian dishes that are prepared with plant-based ingredientsWe receive repeat orders from customers which is a good sign for the future.

Samantha Haberli, Founder and Head Chef

The Earthling Cafe

https://www.instagram.com/the.earthling.cafe/

Q: What do you personally feel is contributing to the rise of vegan restaurants in Bangkok based on your customer feedback and reviews? 

Samatha Haberli: I believe that the rise of plant-based restaurants and the plant-based lifestyle in Bangkok, and all over the world, is due to so many different factors. I think that people are much more aware of the health benefits of living plant-based, and are also much more interested in where their food comes from, and what it does to the planet.

Global warming has become a huge topic of discussion in the last few years, and I believe this has also had an impact. Plant-based cuisine is also becoming much more creative, and much more diverse. Gone are the days when plant-based meat eating just salads! The plant-based lifestyle is beginning to appeal to the masses because it is nutritious, it is delicious, and it is the only morally correct diet there is if you take into consideration the welfare of the planet and of animals.  A vegetarian diet can be a good starting point to move towards a plant-based diet or you can give up meat and dairy and fully embrace a plant-based diet.

We have had repeat orders from many customers on all our signature dishes which makes me want to keep creating healthy, nutritious and yummy plant-based food. Our most popular dish is our pulled mushroom bbq burger which is a plant-based version of pulled pork burger.

Q: Why and what made you consider opening a vegan restaurant?

Samantha HaberliFor my entire life, I always looked forward  to opening and own my own restaurant business. This would make a great contribution and difference to the planet. For about eight years, I have been living a plant-focused lifestyle.However, there were no plant-based options for me to choose from. I am so happy to see that there is a growing demand for vegan restaurants and plant-based food in Bangkok now.

For me plant-based dishes mean being truly from earth. You do not include processed ingredients, refined sugar, flour, or any ingredients that cannot be mentioned using names. That is all that I wanted for my cafe. 

I wanted to introduce healthy and nutritious foods to residents in Bangkok and wrap it in wellness and education bits.

Thitima Sudechawongsakul, Founder and Head Chef

Rise of vegan restaurants

Carrots: The Vegan Bistro  

https://instagram.com/carrotsbangkok

Q: What do you personally feel is contributing to the rise of vegan restaurants in Bangkok based on your customer feedback and reviews?

Thitima Sudechawongsakul: Veganism is still a relatively new industry with attractive annual growth rates, and so from a business perspective, we believe that many individuals would like to jump onto the opportunity and be able to deliver innovative products and new business models to cater to this industry.

From the consumer point of view, we believe that it is becoming a big part of Thailand, where most customers are seeking healthier food options. Some of our customers are also intolerant to dairy and therefore they cannot be vegetarian, they have to eat a plant-based diet. There is, however, a smaller but rising number of customers who choose to be vegan because of love of the planet/environment. A lot of our customers come back to the cafe and we have multiple repeat orders which is a positive sign for us. 

We have positive feedback for all the dishes on our menu, our signature dish is our crispy fried tofu burger which is the plant based version of crispy chicken burger. Most people love burgers so we offer two different burgers on our menu.

Q: Why and what made you consider opening a vegan cafe?

Thitima Sudechawongsakul: I opened a vegan bakery from home initially due to health reasons for my family and me. I had positive responses from a vegan bakery, so I decided to open a vegan cafe for those who have food intolerances.

At Carrots, we want to be a safe space for food intolerant, health-conscious customers and also be an example for setting a green business for the economy and society. We are always researching ways to innovate and be environmentally sustainable in our operations and we want to be a small part of contributing to making a city like Bangkok more green in its values.

Our main goal is to be creative and fun and show that vegan is not just vegetables and fruits but it can be fun junk, and healthy at the same time without using any animal products and without compromising taste.

Tung Chuladesa,Owner

Canes Lab and Restaurant and Canes Casual Dining

Q: What do you personally feel is contributing to the rise of vegan restaurants in Bangkok based on your customer feedback and reviews?

Tung Chuladesa:Thanks to the progression and popularization of the culinary sciences such as molecular gastronomy in the past few decades which allowed us to understand the sciences behind traditional cooking, we as a society were able to transform the food industry to the point of figuratively reaching a new pinnacle.

Now that any dishes known can be made as well as they could imaginably be, it is time for the culinary world to explore the new possibilities with unfamiliar ingredients especially vegetables and methods we aren’t yet able to fully utilize such as fermentation, which is the area I believe the plant-based culinary sciences really shine and partially contributed to the rise in vegan restaurants in Bangkok and world-wide.

 We have Thai food influencers who visit us and they post about us on social media so there is a definite curiosity towards creative plant-based food in Bangkok and I don’t think it is a passing trend.

Q: Why and what made you consider opening a vegan cafe?

Tung Chuladesa: I decided to open vegan businesses because I see plant-based cuisine as the future. As for our customers, some are vegan while the others are not, but the main reasons they visit us are usually similar: to try something innovative and different. We are at two different locations now, one is fine-dine and the other one is casual dining. We offer various dishes from burgers to traditional Thai dishes.

Dahra Loonpae, Founder and Head Chef 

Rise of vegan restaurants

Let Me Health You Thailand

https://instagram.com/letmehealthyou_thailand?r=nametag

Q: What do you personally feel is contributing to the rise of vegan restaurants in Bangkok based on your customer feedback and reviews?

Dahra Loonpae: I personally feel that the awareness of eating more plant-based food benefits and the bigger plant-based community are two factors that lead to the rise of vegan / plant-based restaurants. 

Knowledge has been spread more so people become more acknowledged about this lifestyle, plus eating vegan food doesn’t seem boring anymore since many restaurants are becoming experimental and they are creating fun and delicious vegan food.

Q: Why and what made you consider opening a vegan cafe?

Dahra Loonpae: At the beginning It was because of my digestive system that didn’t feel right anymore when I consumed meat. Then, I started to learn more about the wider benefits of this lifestyle such as how it can help with the environment and of course to the animals.

I cooked for myself first and found it’s really pleasant to cook & eat, therefore I wanted to share what I eat with others as well. I really want my food to be approachable and enjoyable to both vegan or non-vegan. Also, I want to be a small part of being responsible and helping our planet, opening this restaurant supports that need of mine.

Take Some Time to Explore Cannabis Edibles

The debate on whether plant-based is the future cannot be complete without mentioning cannabis. Thailand has recently legalized Cannabis as the truth about its benefits becomes clearer to more governments across the globe. Therefore, you will make your plant-based delicacies by adding cannabis. 

Cannabis products are also diverse and can be taken on their own. For example, you can take cannabis gummies when in the office, field, or relaxing with friends. See: no need to smoke it, but the effects will be awesome. The products are loaded with cannabinoids, from CBD to THC, which interact  with the body to spur concentration, relaxation, or energy boost.

Some of the cannabis products you should consider are cannabis gummies, cannabis, popcorns, cannabis brownies, and cannabis chocolate. Cannabis flowers and THC oil are also available. So, how do you place your order? 

The process is pretty simple. You can order your cannabis products by line @organicvillage, through Whatsapp, +66801350032 or Organic Village site organic-village.co.th. All the orders in Bangkok and the entire Thailand are delivered within 24 hours between 8am and 8pm.

Key Takeaway:

The pandemic, coupled with the harmful effects of climate change is creating a global trend towards plant-based food and healthy eating.

Although all vegan food available in the market is not the best for health or sustainable, most people associate veganism with health which makes them more curious about the cuisine.

It is exciting and new for chefs to create something different from vegetables.

There are many Thai companies investing in plant-based meat resulting in more awareness and availability across all supermarkets in Bangkok.

It is very easy to find vegan cafes across Bangkok today.

The verdict is still not clear on whether plant based is the future but there has never been a better time to be plant-based in Bangkok.