It seems rather hard to be a vegetarian in Vietnam since most of the everyday food selling on the street or made at home contains at least one animal-related ingredient: this is part of Vietnamese tradition. For example, vermicelli with tofu can be vegetarian, but the broth added to the bowl is extracted from pig bones and flesh. In many restaurants, they also cook vegetable with meat or fish/shrimp, because Vietnamese believe that the mixture of meat/seafood, bones and vegetable can bring out the most delicious taste to the meal.
Some exceptions are desserts such as sweet soups/pudding (che), cakes, vermicelli and rice/sticky rice with salty roasted sesame (com/xoi muoi vung). However, your sweet tooth cannot cure you from hunger, while vermicelli and rice/sticky rice are unable to provide enough nutrition your body needs. So what is the solution to this problem? Does it mean that vegetarians cannot survive in Vietnam without self-cooking? And vegetarians from other countries cannot come to Vietnam for travelling?
The answer is NO.
Vegetarian in Vietnam is more and more popular in Vietnam nowadays. Today you can easily find vegetarian and vegan restaurants in bigger cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Haiphong, Hue and Hoi An. There is a wide variety of vegetarian cooking styles for you to choose from: ultimate vegan (no animal-related element), Buddhism vegetarian (still using milk, honey, anything that do not kill living creatures) and vegetarian with eggs.
If you still consume eggs for meals, you can choose some Indian restaurants with plenty of high quality food. For example in Hanoi: Dakshin (94 Hang Trong Str.), Khazaana (1C Tong Dan Str.), Tamarind (80 Ma May Str.).
Loving Hut restaurant chain is the best choice for ultimate vegan and Buddhism vegetarian, since all of their owners and employees are ultimate vegan, never using any animal-related product. There are many Loving Hut restaurants in Hanoi for you to choose: The Gioi Chay (4/192 Quan Thanh Str.), Ha Thanh (116/166 Kim Ma Str.), Au Lac (318 Lang Str.), An Lac (8/2/40 Ta Quang Buu – Bach Khoa area), Thien Phuc (18/71 Nguyen Hong Str.), etc.
Ho Chi Minh City is also a lovely place for vegetarian restaurants, since many people consume vegan food in the 4th, 5th and 7th day every lunar month. We can easily name some Loving Hut members: Hoa Dang (38 Huynh Khuong Ninh Str.), Au Lac (60 Tan Vinh, Ward 6, Dist. 4), Bo De (36B 2ndStr. Ward. 15, Dist. 11), Long Hoa (69 Thich Quang Duc Str.).
In each province, including Hai Phong, Hai Duong, Hue, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Gia Lai, there is at least one restaurant of Loving Hut. Moreover, prices are very reasonable except for special dishes since vegetables in Vietnam are quite cheap. Nevertheless, come to Loving Hut, customers will be impressed by the way they name their food. In order to avoid animals’ relation, the owner creates new fancy names for their products.
For example, beef salad can be called “The Hill of Love”, seafood spring roll is now known as “Loving Ocean”, fried spring roll is given the new name “The joy of the day”. Likewise, “Paradise’s melody” is the name for fried chicken, Chinese roasted duck turns into “Real Kindness and Beauty”, Chicken drumsticks with BBQ sauce now adopts the title “Tranquility moment”. And there are many wonderful dishes waiting for you to try.
So, vegetarian, should you have chance to come to Vietnam, just need to find Loving Hut, Dakshin, Au Lac, or any other vegan restaurant, and you will be more than impressed.