Would travel with dietary restrictions in Vietnam be a big challenge? The answer is: Not at all! As being heaven for food lovers, Vietnam is able to offer you dozens, or even hundreds, of dishes no matter what diet you follow. Here is close-up information of several dietary restrictions in Vietnam, including vegan, vegetarian, halal, gluten-free, and nut-free, also some tips for you to have a wonderful time in this country.
Suggested dishes: Vegan Pho, Cha Gio Chay (Vegan Spring Rolls)
Vegan and vegetarian are common diets for many Vietnamese, so there would be no trouble finding numerous delicious dishes that are suitable. There are vegan versions of most of the Vietnamese foods, as well as a variety of plant-based dishes.
Many restaurants in Vietnam provide options for vegans and vegetarians, and you can communicate with them at ease. With dishes that are served with vegetables like Lau (Hotpot), Pho, Banh Xeo, most of the time they are free to be refilled, so don't hesitate to ask for more. Another point that might help vegans enjoy meals with less concern is that the majority of Vietnamese food does not use milk. However, do look out for some eggs or fish sauce in the ingredients!
Read till the end of this blog for some useful words and phrases for your travel with dietary restrictions in Vietnam as a vegan or vegetarian!
Vegan food in Vietnam is greatly diverse
Check out the Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City.
Although the concept of halal is not familiar to many Vietnamese, there are still several very nice Halal Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City.
Since you want to avoid pork, the safest option is to go for dishes of vegans and vegetarians. Dishes with chicken and beef are also not hard to find, but you should be careful with those who have soup as there are high chances that the cooks use pork broth. Vietnam has a long coastline that provides a huge amount of fresh seafood every year, so do not miss your chance to try them out here.
Nowadays there are more and more Halal restaurants in Vietnam
It is not so hard to find gluten-free food in Ho Chi Minh City, and you may get a greater variety of food choices. You can look for dishes with Com (rice) - the most popular ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine, and Bun (rice vermicelli). Stay away from all types of bread as you have always done - which means no Banh Mi for you, and pay attention to Vietnamese noodles as they may contain gluten flour.
Com Tam (Broken Rice) and Bun Cha, two gluten-free food in Vietnam
Vietnamese cuisine does not often contain nuts as a prevalent ingredient, so there are still countless foods waiting for you to discover. Peanut is probably the one that is most commonly used in Vietnamese meal. However, it usually only appears as additional sprinkles on your food so you can take it out easily, or tell the chef beforehand about your diet and they would be more than pleased to help.
Peanuts in Vietnamese dishes are visible and easy to take out
Other nuts such as almonds or cashew nuts are quite rare to find in Vietnamese daily life. Just keep a keen eye on what you eat like you have always done every day and there would be no problem.
You're in luck because the Vietnamese often do not add milk in their foods. As for drink, however, the situation can be a bit tricky for lactose-intolerant travelers. The bad news is, you cannot enjoy an icy cup of Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese Coffee with Condensed Milk), but there would be no problem if you simply want to enjoy an ice-cold cup of iced Vietnamese coffee. If you're a fan of smoothie, feel free to ask the vendors to skip the milk, as most smoothies are freshly made right in front of your eyes.
Coffee with Condensed Milk - the name is already a red flag for lactose-intolerants
1. Awareness about several dietary restrictions is not very widely spread. Besides telling the chefs about your diet, it is highly recommended you do some research about what you are going to eat beforehand. You can also join Private Food Tours with local guides who can speak fluent English as they would immensely help take all your worries away.
2. Prepare some of your food just in case. Although we have always encouraged you to experience Vietnamese cuisine as much as you can, it is better safe than sorry. But you may not have to bring so many because Vietnamese supermarkets would provide everything you need.
3. You should check whether the condiments are gluten-free, especially in tourist-driven restaurants. Generally speaking, foods in the South of Vietnam are more likely to be gluten-free the those in the North.
4. Some words and phrases you should keep in mind or copy it to your phone and show to the waiters:
|Words/Phrases||Meaning||Type of dietary restriction|
|Tôi ăn chay||I'm vegetarian/vegan||Vegetarian/Vegan|
|Tôi không ăn thịt heo||I don't eat pork||Halal|
|Xin đừng cho đậu phộng||Please don't put peanuts in||Nut-free|
|Cho tôi xin nước tương thay vì nước mắm||Please give me soy sauce instead of fish sauce||Any diet, especially vegan and vegetarian|
Your dietary restrictions would not be a massive obstacle during your time in Vietnam. As long as you follow your daily instructions and notices, unforgettable experiences would come along without many excessive worries.
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© Written by Mai Bui for itourvn.com
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