Sep 15 2011
Meat pops up when you least expect it in Bangkok. You’ll place an order for vegetarian spring rolls, assured by the bold print on the menu, the waiter, and the manager that they are, indeed, vegetarian. The rolls arrive, looking crispy and inviting. You bite down eagerly and … what’s that you feel? You pause to examine the inside of your roll, where you find a stealthy piece of pork spooning with your vegetables. The vegans, fruitarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians and humanitarians may sentence me to a cage-free death for mixing movements, but below is a sampling of vegetarian, vegan and organic options in Bangkok for the health-conscious and the veg-curious.
Baan Suan Pai Food Court at Banana Family Park
Founded by the family that runs Bangkok Printing, Banana Family Park was established to promote the Buddha’s teachings. The complex offers yoga, a free public dharma library, a health food store, a coffee shop and a cafeteria brimming with vegetable splendours. Like Baan Bai Pluu, Banana Family Park (or, affectionately, Banana) fosters a strictly vegetarian lifestyle with Thai and Chinese-style cuisine. Though the steaks and kabobs may look convincingly like meat, I assure you, they are not. Prices are cheap (30-35 baht) and with eight different stalls to choose from, the grub is reliably good. Don’t leave the premises without buying a fresh vegetable roll, which comes pre-packaged in containers for on-the-go eating. To stay true to the name of the establishment, top off your meal with a bite-sized banana muffin for dessert.
17/1 Soi Ari 1 in Baan Ari Compound. Open daily from approximately 06:00-14:00 (Time varies depending on the vendor; some leave food out as late as 18:00.) T: 02 279 7838. BTS Ari.
Sustaina Organic Shop and Restaurant
After finding a lonesome sweet potato sprouting in his summer palace, the King decided to create the royal project to promote sustainable agriculture and organic farming. Sustaina Organic Shop and Restaurant has followed suit, with a fully-stocked produce market and Japanese-influenced cuisine, using locally-grown fruits vegetables from Harmony Life Organic Farm in Nakhon Ratchsima and natural seafood. The space, with white walls, crisp borders, and fruit wrapped individually, feels pure – a far cry from contaminated fruit that can be sold on street.
Despite the strict adherence to a micro-organic system in growing all produce, the restaurant manages to have a wide range of options, such as macrobiotic tofu and tomato salad, curry with tofu steak and homemade spaghetti with vegetables (150-280 baht per main). If you like the food, head downstairs to the market to take home organic fruit sherbet (22 baht), pumpkin pudding (20 baht), or a bottle of enzyme drink for your next dinner party (1,200 baht, and said to help with “bodily functions”).
1/40 Sukhumvit 39. Open daily for lunch 11:30-14:30 and dinner 17:30-20:45. T: 02 258 7516. BTS Phrom Phong.
Rasayana Retreat: Living Food Café
Offering yoga, pilates, spa treatments, detoxification and colon hydrotherapy (if anyone is looking!), Rasayana Retreat is an urban haven for zen-seeking tourists and expats. In a city that deep-fries morning glory, Living Food Café offers flaxseed pizza, cabbage rolls and spaghetti and nut balls (I kid you not), refusing to cook anything above 42 degrees Celsius or use meat, wheat, dairy, processed, or pasteurised products. The food may feel naked on your plate, and seem a bit overpriced for the portions (130-180 baht per main), but you pay for fresh vegetables washed in reverse osmosis water and sheltered from the Bangkok heat. I was wary when I saw an entire page devoted to different dressings on the menu, but I realised after my meal that the beauty of the food is in its delicate flavour. Without the safety of an oven or a stick of butter, Living Food Café relies solely on the taste of the ingredients, and really, they are enough.
57 Soi Prom-Mitr, Sukhumvit 39. Open daily 10:00-20:00. T: 02 662 4803-5. BTS Phrom Phong.
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