TRAVEL VEGAN IN THE PHILIPPINES

Let me start by saying that travelling as a Vegetarian or Vegan in the Philippines has its challenges, but it is definitely possible! Throughout my 6 weeks here, I have been blessed with finding some very delicious restaurants, colourful fruit and veggie markets/stands along with an abundance of fresh young coconuts!

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Do not let the lack of plant based menu items hold you back from travelling here. The Philippines is one of the least built up places I have travelled to and is home to some of the nicest people in the world. The islands I visited are so incredibly lush and abundant with waterfalls, beaches, secret lagoons and unique mountainous landscapes.  Plus, I can finally check this off my bucket list: staying in a waterfront cottage on private beach…for less than $50 CDN a night!

When my my partner Jack and I decided to take this trip, there were not many online resources on vegan travel in the Philippines. Trusting this inspires you and guides you during a happy, healthy and holistic trip through these incredible Islands.

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My first tip: Eat a lot more fruit than your used to! For most of our trip we’d wake up and drink a coconut water (mixed with spirulina we brought from Canada) followed by some fresh hydrating fruit like watermelon. In the afternoon, we had a mix of seasonal and local fruit like mangos, bananas, pineapple, papaya, jackfruit,  or chicos (similar to sweet bosc pear, also known as nispero in Central America) or coconut meat! Dinner would be time for the restaurant (and some times a home cooked meal at our airbnb’s). This is such a nourishing and hydrating way of eating. The tropical fruit here are fresh, local and therefore high in nutrients. With the hot weather, it feels so good to eat a more cooling diet. And if you plan to do lots of activity during the day, especially swimming, it’s  nice to feel a bit lighter.

 


CEBU ISLAND

MOALBOAL

Moalboal Fruit Stand

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You can’t miss it. It’s right on the national highway soon as you turn into the city, next to city hall and the round about. There is also a much larger fruit and veggie market just behind the stores on the main road (national highway), but we were quite happy with what we found at the main fruit stand. Epic yellow watermelon (and red too), mango, pineapple, pomelo, jackfruit, soursop, coconuts, you can also find apples and oranges.

Ven’z Kitchen

 

Known as one of the best restaurants in Moalboal, and it has about 8 vegan menu options featuring local veggies like eggplant, carrots, purple sweet potato, okra, pumpkin, peppers and green beans.

What we ordered… Yellow Vegetable Curry w/ rice; Veggies in Peanut Sauce;  the vegan eggplant dish dish.

Tip: portions are small so you may want to order 3 dishes for two people if its for dinner.

+ We absolutely enjoyed playing with all the available board games like scrabble, uno, connect four and jenga while waiting for our meal!

Lantaw

What we ordered...Thai Red Vegetable Curry, Indonesian Yellow Curry, Vegetable Tempura.

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Insider’s scoop:  Great portion sizes! The red curry was very tasty and a perfect balance between sweet and spicy- definitely more flavourful than the yellow. I wouldn’t recommend the tempura it was very oil and was battered really thick, not like the traditional style.

Free-Diving Planet (hostel + free dive training center)

What we ordered...Sweet potato fries and greek inspired quinoa salad, Teriyaki Veggie Noodle Bowl, Superfood Soup with moringa leaves, carrots and pumpkin.

Insider’s scoop: Pretty Plain, but was happy to be eating quinoa. The noodles were delicious. A bit more expensive than other restaurants.


PALAWAN

PUERTO PRINCESA

Lale Indian  & Thai Restaurant 

This was one of the best meals we enjoyed during the trip, we’re probably biased because we LOVE Indian food and hadn’t had any during our trip yet. But really, this was authentic, tasty, Indian Cuisine and very well received by our bellies! It’s a must for any vegan or vegetarian travelling through or to Puerto.

 

 

Tip: Definitely order the naan with chutney. Great price, good portions. nice decor and they do take out! A must for vegans and vegetarians visiting puerto princesa. 

Ima’s Vegetarian Restaurant

What we ordered… Tempeh Fries, Veggie & Rice Jambalaya, Vegan Burritos

 

Insider’s Scoop: The best thing was the tempeh fries! The rest of the meal was decent, but nothing remarkable. I was a bit uninspired by the menu that seemed to use a lot of canned veggies.

Fruit Stands

You can find these pretty much everywhere on the side of the street and they are always abundant. There is also a bigger town market as well. During our time near Puerto Princesa, we did a 6 day self guided silent retreat and fruit cleanse. We had so much fun transporting  our giant fruit haul in the tricycle!

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PORT BARTON

 We found 2 incredible restaurants and stuck to them… Gorgonzola and Mabuti!
#1 Top Restaurant of our trip:… Gorgonzola
This mainly vegetarian restaurant was an incredible treat for us! We enjoyed many vegan, Italian/Spanish inspired dishes, which is not so easy to do when travelling. The taste of a thin crust pizza, cooked in a wood fire oven is priceless, especially with homemade dough, yummy sauce and amazing toppings to choose from. It smells divine in here and the open concept kitchen is so beautifully designed. They are in the middle of expanding so I am sure you can only expect it to get better from here!
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What we ordered…
Wood fire oven, thin crust, vegan pizza with cashew cheese and all our favourite toppings like artichokes, olives, peppers, arugula, avocado, zucchini and eggplant.
Full Protein Salad with leafy green lettuce, shredded carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, mung beans, boiled egg/hummus, turmeric cashew dressing accompanied by homemade bread!

 

All types of toasts served on that delicious bread. We tried the humus and sautéed mushroom.
Oven baked focaccia bread with your choice of dip: hummus, pesto, eggplant, tapenade, or go for the bruschetta.
We didn’t have any, but they also make fresh homemade pasta in house which you can order with your choice of sauce, including pesto, tomato, creamy mushroom and a few others.
Insider’s Scoop: Each table comes with three kinds of homemade, infused olive oils : oregano, garlic and spicy! They are awesome to put on top of the pizza, salad or even the toasts. Its not always easy to come buy quality olive oil while travelling, so we took advantage of it and upped our healthy fat intake!
Tip: Try the ginger-mint lemonade, it’s super refreshing. Made with fresh mint, ginger root and blended in a vitamix with homemade lemonade!
 A sweet, modern, chic yet chill hang out space, with an almost completely vegetarian menu.
What we ordered…Mango-cashew salad with fresh spinach, Mixed greens salad (greek inspired), The best ever Veggie Burger (curry flavoured and served on a homemade bun) which comes with tasty & crispy baked potato wedges, Homemade Quiche with mixed veggie Salad.
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Tip: You’ll love the vegan burger, that’s all we need to say. Order any drink, we recommend the fresh calamansi juice and it comes with  a free bamboo straw.
Yoske’s 
What we ordered … Falafal plate comes with 6 falafels, small Israeli salad,  tahini dip and pita, Hummus and Pita.
Tip: This was quite delicious, although a bit pricey for the portion size. We were okay with it as the owner literally orders so much of his products in from Israel so that they are the most authentic version!
Enjoy a 1km walk from town to this very big outdoor restaurant all with bamboo furniture. This places is more of a bar, and not so much our style. To be honest, they have so many signs posted, we needed to go check it out. The food was perfect for an afternoon snack.
What we ordered… sweet potato fries, tempura olives. They have also have noodle bowls with tahini sauce or peanut sauce, but we were just there to snack and check it out.
note: Our accommodation (EVIO front beach cottage on airbnb) was on a private beach, in a cute little cottage, 30 minutes walking distance from Port Barton, in Pamuyan. The owner, Rosemary, prepared us delicious vegan meals like pumpkin curry, stewed mung beans, vegetable curry, spring rolls, mashed purple sweet potato, coconut rice  and desserts like fried banana! So don’t worry…we didn’t eat Italian every night!
EL NIDO
The only full vegan/veggie place in El Nido which is hard to believe for the number of tourists. This was a fun experience. We got to meet the owner, who is also the chef. He is so inspired by plant based cooking, especially inventing new kinds of burgers. He makes everything from scratch, including the bun which is made with whole wheat. You eat on a little bench in this mini snack bar. The power was out (very common!) when we were there so we enjoyed our burgers with candlelight.
What we ordered…Double decker falafel burger, Sweet potato burger, Fresh Cut Fries
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Tip: If you’re really hungry go for the double decker, other go for the other burger patti choices: sweet potato, eggplant, mushroom and corn or potato, all made from a chickpea based + he even does a banana burger!
Happiness Express
 This is more of a bar rather than a restaurant, and a very popular one indeed.  It has a cool vibe and funky decor and seems to be the place to go if you want to have some drinks after a day of touring. We went for the food!
What we ordered… Mediterranean sharing plate with hummus, best ever falafels, spicy tomato dip, tahini, eggplant dip pitas and spicy sauce, The Falafel and Hummus Plate.
Insider’s Scoop: Other delicious items on the menu (and what we saw being ordered around us!) were the home made fries and the shakshuka!
Athena Greek Restaurant 
What we ordered…

Greek Salad (with or without feta cheese), and a lot of other salads to choose from.

…and of course, more mediterranean sharing plates with hummus and babaganoush.
Insider’s Scoop: Very nice location, right on the beach. It gets busy so you may have to make a reservation. They also serve fresh veggies juices here.
On the island hopping tours, as a vegan you can always expect the same cuisine: fresh fruit like bananas, melon and pineapple; the classic marinated vegetable salad with cabbage, carrots and green beans; eggplant salad; rice; and a fresh tomato, cucumber and shredded carrot plate.

CORON (BUSUANGA)

CORON (town proper)

Fruit and Veggie Stands

Walk down to the waterfront, at the end of Don Pedro Street, 2 block to the left, to find lots of fruit and veggie stands and fresh coconuts.

Food Court in the local market (down by the water at the end of Don Pedro Street)

Buzz Express

You have no idea how blessed and lucky we feel to have found “The Harvest Bowl.” This is one of our favourite meals in Canada where we make many versions of this “Buddha Bowl.” This restaurant is probably one of the pricier ones of our trip, but so worth it. We also enjoyed a garden salad that actually included an abundance of fresh leafy lettuce (a rare find that was most welcomed!).

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What we ordered…The Harvest Bowl: Served on a bed of brown rice and topped with sprouted mung beans, thinly sliced cucumber and coconut meat, homemade marinated slaw, crunchy chickpeas, cashews and the best ever creamy coconut thai curry sauce; Garden Salad with honey mustard dressing; Calamansi juice with honey.

Insider’s Scoop: The bill adds on an additional, mandatory, 10 % service charge, so be sure to keep this in mind based on your budget.  See the full menu 

Brujita 

This was one of the first restaurants we found online with veggie and vegan options. It offers a variety of choices like curries, pesto pastas, salads, fried rice and canton noodles.

What we ordered (went went here twice!)… Canton Veggie Noodles; Creamy Pumpkin Soup with coconut milk served with a delicious homemade grainy rye bread; Sweet potato chips with homemade salsa and homemade mustard (the best!); Mung Bean and Chickpea Curry with Garlic Rice (our favourite dish).

 

 

Tip: #1. Order the homemade mustard, it will be the best one of your life! #2 Go for an early dinner. There are only a few tables and it gets busy, so to avoid waiting in line go around 5 pm.

Insider’s Scoop: The Canton noodles are quite good and the portion size is massive, but we later found out by reading some packaging in the store that the noodles are made with yellow food colouring, so we avoided them during our 2nd visit.

Muslim Halal Food Stall

What a gem of spicy, flavourful, homemade, cheap food! We seriously spent 150 PHP on dinner for both of us. That is a record, and so was the taste. How lucky we were to find this place. We have been wanting to eat street food our entire trip, but couldn’t find anything vegan other than fried food. We were so pleased to find this delicious jack fruit inspired coconut curry (I still can’t believe it wasn’t meat!)
What we ordered…Jackfruit and coconut Stew (40 php), Vegetable Curry (40 php), and Rice (15 php)

 


SIQUIJOR ISLAND

*This was our first Island visit, and I wasn’t take food photos at the time..sorry!*

SAN JUAN

Mini Fruit Stand 

Where to find it: At the town square (you will see a public pool), Turn right off the main road, at the health clinic, drive along the water for less than a minute – you will pass people doing laundry in a small river, and then you will find the market where you can buy local watermelon, mangoes, pineapple, bananas and veggies.

Restaurants

Baha Bar

This was our go to place on Siquijor….we must have gone at least 6 times during our 10 day stay. They had so many choices, the food is incredible, good portions, above average prices for Siquijor but comparable with the rest of the places we visited, live music, comfy couches, fire dancing night and more!

What we ordered… Singaporian Red Vegetable Curry (daily special), Fresh Rolls, Green Sala, Roasted eggplant in coconut cream, Grilled Veggie Burger (they were out of banana bloom as indicated on the menu), Sweet Potato Wedges.

Tip: Do yourself a favour and order a fresh Pineapple Juice – Probably the only ‘not watered down or blended with ice’ juice/shake we had during our entire trip.

+ You can find a shop, owned by baha bar, across the street selling some fruit and veggies and other staples if you want to cook at your place.

The Mediterranean Restaurant (yep that is what its called)

What we ordered…Hummus, fresh veggies and homemade pita, Absolutely Divine Sautéed Okra served with quality sea salt.

Tip: Super small portions for these 2 dishes, think of them  as appetisers or order one per person.

Saki (part of Hillside Village)

This place is a gem. We came across it when we spent one afternoon driving around most of the island and up into the mountains toward the forest. We absolutely loved doing this and highly recommend it. We found Sake, just past Infinite Heights resort, at the top of a hill with an epic view. This authentic Japanese restaurant had an extensive menu, and quite a few vegetarian options- with the option to make them vegan.

What we ordered…Vegetable Tempura with Moringa, Pumpkin, Jump Oregano Leaves and Eggplant, Green Tea Soba Noodle Soup

Tip: Go for the the panoramic view and the beauty of driving up the mountains! 

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