One of Thailand’s biggest Taoist celebrations is the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. Known locally in Phuket as the ‘Vegetarian Festival’, it’s a no-meat feast lasting 9 days usually during October.
During this time Phuket is teeming with food stalls set up to fill the stomachs of those who are eating ‘gin jay’, (eat vegetarian). Look out for yellow flags with red Chinese writing on, it indicates they serve delicious vegetarian dishes, although, you will find that a lot of the food at the festival is deep-fried, so although it’s suitable for non-meat eaters it’s not for the lentil-craving health conscious.
But you don’t have to wait only once a year to enjoy vegetarian food in Phuket. The vegetarian food scene has grown rapidly in the past few years along with the island’s reputation as a destination for health, wellness, and fitness. The quality and variety of the food are improving here too, with a lot more organic, vegan, and plant-based dining options to be found.
Whether you’re the ultimate herbivore or just want to eat healthily in the ‘Pearl of the Andaman’, here are some of our favourite meat-free dining spots.
Tom Yam Hed in Phuket Town
Thai people eat a lot more fruit and vegetables than meat and there are lots of Thai restaurants with vegetarian options around the island, many of them in Phuket Town. Some favourite local dishes to try include Tom Yam Hed, sour and spicy mushroom soup, and Pad Tau-hu Priew Waan, sweet and sour fried tofu.
If you find yourself in Phuket Town, look up ‘Herson’ vegetarian restaurant on Ranong Road, it’s very popular with the locals and has plenty of choices, ask for a big bowl of noodle soup, you won’t be disappointed. Just down the road are several other options, Nong Jay restaurant and Jay Pa Leam restaurant on Bangkok Road.
For some home-cooked western food, The Vegan Table has a mouth-watering selection of falafels, humous, tahini, and soup served in a bread bowl, they even bake their own bread. Try the gluten-free penne served with spicy Arrabbiata sauce, followed by creamy vegan cheesecake washed down with a soy milk latte.