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Travelling vegetarians can sometimes find sourcing decent food a challenge; in Thailand, however, many Thai dishes can easily be made as a veggie option. For Thailand generally, the Vegetarian Thai Food Guide can come in handy. If you’re a vegetarian travelling to Ko Samui, SITCA (Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts) offers cooking classes, and can convert most recipes into veggie options on request — this can give you a good introduction to meat-free Thai food. When eating out on the island, although any restaurant can do vegetarian, a few are geared specifically towards vegetarian and vegan diets. Here’s a selection I’d recommend.
Amala Vegetarian Restaurant at Prana Resort, Bang Rak
Anyone who thinks vegetarian food is boring should give Amala a try. This fully vegetarian restaurant adds an interesting twist to veggie dishes, and meat will not be missed at the table. Located at the pricy Prana Resort in Bang Rak, non-hotel residents can still book for the restaurant, which is a modern raw concrete and wood structure, right on the seafront. T: (077) 246 362
Marina Club Lounge, Petcharat Pier, Bang Rak
Located in a modern building, home to the busy Petcharat Pier in central Bang Rak, this spot offers great Israeli and Mediterranean options, areas of the world that are known for creating interesting veggie dishes. Try the aubergine dip, garlicky, lemony and delicious served with toasted flat bread. The coffee is great too.
Radiance Restaurant, Spa Samui Resort, Lamai
Radiance is known for its vegetarian, vegan and raw food, and the vast menu serves weight loss, detox and raw food options as well as meat dishes for carnivores who can’t do without. Menu prices are extremely reasonable; here a spicy lentil soup will set you back just 70 baht. Raw food cooking classes are on offer too. The restaurant and resort has a laidback, hippy feel, with tables inside or outside overlooking the beach. A smoothie bar creates every combination of veggie or fruit drink; go on, try the strawberry and beetroot shake. This is a great place to recover after a night out in Lamai. Lamai Ring Road; T: (077) 230 855
Free House Bungalows Restaurant, Bophut Beach
This resort restaurant is busy and popular with locals too. They offer Western and Thai fare, with several pages on the menu dedicated to vegetarian options. Particularly good are the vegetable coconut soup, which is creamy with strong flavours of lemongrass and coriander, and the deep-fried tofu with peanut sauce. The place has a chilled, laidback vibe, without being hippy. Portions are huge and prices although not cheap, are fair. The shakes are super-sized with unusual combinations; try the chocolate and banana.
When it comes to street and beach food, vegetarian options, although fewer, are readily available. Try grilled corn on the cob, delicious and buttery, or grilled sticky rice, without the fish sauce. Veggie spring rolls are easy to find as are vendors selling freshly chopped fruit kept cool on ice. A portion will set you back only 15 baht.
For those with a sweet tooth, Nutella and banana pancakes are a winner; meat-free doesn’t mean sugar and fat-free, right? Throw the diet out the window, and walk it off along the beach.
Heading to Bangkok? Check out these vegetarian, or mostly vegetarian, restaurants in the Thai capital.
By Rosanne Turner
Last updated on 24th March, 2015.