I spent 5 amazing weeks in The Philippines, and my journey took me from Manila to the beautiful island of Cebu, where I explored Cebu City, Moalboal and Oslob. I had a great time, trying scuba diving for the first time, and climbing beautiful Osmena Peak and watching the sunset. I moved on to the fun-packed island of Bohol where I would get up close with the mesmerising wide-eyed tarsiers, and then move on to Siargao to try my hand (and fail miserably) at surfing! Lastly, I spent the final few weeks of my trip enjoying arguably one of the best islands for boat trips and island hopping – Palawan, home to Puerto Princesa, El nido and Coron.
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I was a little unsure as to how I would fare being a vegan in The Philippines, as their famed national dishes are extremely meaty, including, Lechon (a whole roasted pig), Adobo (commonly made with chicken or pork) and Sinigang (sour meat stew). However, with a little luck and some research, I could always find something tasty to eat and was often pleasantly surprised. Think fruity smoothie bowls, delicious veggie curries and monstrous veggie burgers! As I mentioned sometimes there is a little research involved in tracking down those veggie delights, so if you’re vegan or vegetarian and planning on visiting The Philippines then download these four apps before you go. They will make your life so much easier!
Happy Cow App
Download the Happy Cow App. This app is just a lifesaver, it’s essentially a review app of restaurants cafes and eateries which are either vegan, vegetarian or have veg-options. You can simply search ‘nearby’ to see what’s around you or enter in a destination to see what’s going on in that location. It was so useful to have this app and find something close by, I even used it to help me plan my accommodation and activities when I arrived at a place. More often than not, I found it took me a little off the beaten track towards these veggie restaurants but on the way, I discovered a whole lot more than I would have if I just stuck to the usual tourist trail.
Vegan Passport App
Another really helpful app I downloaded before I left was the Vegan Passport. This great little app enables you to present a short paragraph on your phone to another person explaining what it means to be vegan and what you can and cannot eat. It can be translated to almost any language, and so far includes 78 languages. I only used this occasionally in The Philippines as I found that most of the Filipinos I talked to spoke excellent English, but it’s still handy to have nonetheless.
Google Translate App
Sometimes, the Vegan Passport App needed a little help once the conversation started flowing so I also downloaded the Google Translate app, to communicate further about ordering food and drinks. It’s also super handy just to have when you are visiting any country in which you don’t speak the native language.
When I was staying in some accommodation that was a little far from many vegan restaurants or eateries with vegan options the Grab App was so handy! Grab is the popular taxi service in The Philippines (similar to Uber) and like Uber Eats they also deliver food! You can search ‘vegan’ in the search bar and it will load all of the restaurants in your local area that can deliver to your address that have ‘vegan’ in their menu. I used it on a few occasions and highly recommend downloading the app. It’s also so useful for getting around and using Grab is often much cheaper than local taxis too.
I often relied on snacks quite a bit when I was travelling around Japan as I found it so much harder to find vegan food at restaurants, but in the Philippines, life was much easier for the plant-based foodie! That’s not to say I didn’t partake in the odd snackage or two though. The humble crisp – Oishi plain salted and Pringles Original were a welcome salty snack and found in a lot of the convenience stores (Family Mart and Seven-Eleven).
Ah, sweet Soy Gelato! I found this little sweet cold pot of deliciousness at a little stall in one of the Malls in Manila, using my Happy Cow App.
As well as Oreos! I wasn’t sure whether the Oreos in Japan were vegan as the food label was in Japanese and the internet didn’t seem to have a straight answer. In the Philippines, though the food labels were all in English so I could happily read that there were no animal products in the Oreos! Hurrah! I also found these tasty breakfast chocolate oat cookies, which were quite tasty too.
I didn’t spend very long in Manilla, just a couple of days before I headed out to the picturesque islands of Cebu, Siargao and Palawan. I did, however, find a couple of fantastic vegan eats whilst I was there. My first try was at Delle Mitre, right in the heart of Intramuros close to lots of sights. I enjoyed this absolutely delicious Orange chilli lemongrass tofu with vegetable rice. The flavours in the tofu were great a little bit of heat and aromatic too!
Opposite San Agustin Church, Real St, Intramuros, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines
7850 Makati Avenue, Makati, 1209 Metro Manila, Philippines
Next up, and just round the corner from my accommodation in the Makati district of Manila. A vegetarian restaurant serving up authentic Mediterranean cuisine. I love hummus and falafel and this lunch set was great! I ate the whole lot, and the salad and yellow rice to go with it was great. There was also bread too so I was stuffed once I left!
A Tormis St, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu, Philippines
Quite off the beaten track, with a homely basic feel, this restaurant regularly serves up vegetarian and vegan food at reasonable prices. I enjoyed this traditional sattvic dinner, of mixed vegetables with tofu, red wild rice, mock meat and a fried Lumpia (Filipino spring roll). Unfortunately like with a lot of buffet-style Asian restaurants the food wasn’t piping hot, but it filled a gap.
Laniba Building, 15 N Escario St, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu, Philippines
This restaurant was great, I had previously got a Grab taxi to the restaurant above (Healthy U) which was quite expensive, so this time I used the handy Grab app to order food! I ordered the vegetable curry with red and white rice and for dessert this mouthwatering mango sticky rice. Unfortunately, the photos don’t quite do them justice but these dishes were fantastic! if you’re in Cebu then definitely head on over to Live Life. They are an all-vegetarian restaurant and have a varied menu on offer including curries, pasta, soup, salad and desserts.
Panagsama Rd, Moalboal, 6032 Cebu, Philippines
I lost count how many falafel wraps I had at Smooth Cafe, oh and the mango smoothies, they were so delicious! Smooth cafe actually has a small hostel at the back which is where I stayed during my time in Moalboal. So I was quite the happy bunny when I found out they offered vegan falafel wraps. The wraps are huge too and so filling.
Panagsama Road basdiot, Moalboal, Moalboal, 6032 Cebu, Philippines
Just down the road from Smooth cafe and close to the beach you’ll find Venz Kitchen. A popular restaurant in the area which was very busy when I visited. I demolished this amazing vegetable curry with white rice, the flavours were amazing, and the sauce was creamy too. All washed down by a bottle of San Miguel.
Panagsama Beach Moalboal Basdiot, 6032 Cebu, Philippines
Unfortunately, my hostel didn’t have any breakfast options, so I took a wander down towards the beach and stumbled across the Freediving Planet, which also offered breakfast! They understood what I meant by vegan, and were able to whip up some tasty granola with fruit and soy milk. On another occasion to my delight, they were able to make these delicious waffles with mango on top (my mango addiction is starting to develop at this point).
Luna Oslob Traveller’s Inn
Don Sergio Osmena Sr. Street Poblacion Cebu, Oslob, 6025, Philippines
There didn’t seem to be a huge amount of hostels available in Oslob when I was researching, but the Luna Oslob Traveller’s Inn was great. I managed to get my own room, and they provided breakfast every morning! A cooked option was available but not vegan-friendly so I enjoyed toast and the freshest of fruits, mangoes and bananas.
Located just around the corner from my accommodation was VLK Pizza. A tiny little restaurant which could probably only fit around 10 people with an even smaller kitchen but my goodness do great things come in small packages! the chef there was great and was able to adapt options on the menu to make them vegan. I went back several times and enjoyed a huge bowl of vegetable pasta, fantastic vegetable pizza and white rice with chop suey.
AC Palayok Restaurant
Oslob, Cebu 6025, Poblacion, Oslob, Cebu, Cebu City, 6025 Cebu, Philippines
I was able to enjoy some traditional Filipino food which was vegan. Delicious lumpia made a return, as well as another traditional Filipino dish – Pinakbet (also known as pakbet) a hearty Filipino stew made of vegetables like squash, eggplant, string beans, okra, seasoned with onions garlic and soy sauce, accompanied by a very garlicky very tasty white rice.
Well, I definitely had my fair share of burgers in Bohol! Shaka and Bohol Beach Club were both very impressive when it came to vegan burger fare. My absolute favourite though was the San Jose from Shaka!
Moon Fools Hostel
Ester A. Lim Drive corner, Hontanosas Rd, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines
I stayed at the lovely Moon Fools Hostel during my 5 days in Bohol the staff were super helpful and friendly. Breakfast is provided at the hostel and consist of either toast and jam/peanut butter or oatmeal made with hot water and lots of different toppings. They even set up breakfast early for me when I had an early start on a boat tour. I chose the oatmeal whilst I stayed there and topped it with coconut, peanuts and raisins, a great start to the day!
Panglao Island Circumferential Rd, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines
If you visit the Philippines please track down the nearest Shaka! I couldn’t get enough of this wonderful chain of restaurants. They offer smoothies, smoothie bowls a selection of burgers and a tonne of other starters and main meals, and they are all vegan! Fortunately for my taste buds (maybe not so much my waistline), this Shaka was located next to my hostel, so you can imagine I was in there quite a lot.
This was the “Sawadee Khap burger” – “Two Chickpea based patties infused with garlic, ginger and lemongrass. A sweet Thai Lemon Pickle of cucumber and carrot smeared with a curried cashew cream, topped with a balsamic pumpkin sauce, all stuffed in a baguette”. Served with tomato jam and fries. All washed down with a bottle of local beer from The Cebrewery!
The beautiful little bowl on the left is made up of Acai, banana, mango, pineapple, berries and coconut milk, topped with a nice big pile of home-made granola. It’s like having a bowl of fruity ice-cream for breakfast – can’t really get better than that eh?! On the right is the Berry Good Nice Smoothie made from mixed berries, banana, grated coconut, and coconut water.
A tasty dessert option from Shaka Bohol, This chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and coconut on top! It was soft and light, but sadly a little dry at the edges, which I think was due to it being left in the cake stand a little too long.
A couple more burgers I tried at Shaka during my stay in Bohol, on the left is the Wak Wak Burger, a crispy green patty of herbs, leaves, peas and corn, served with fries and tomato jam. To the right the Sloppy Jose Burger, from my fave restaurant in the Philippines Shaka. With green chillis, tomato jalapeño salsa and creamy cashew vegan queso sauce! Of course, paired with fries and tomato jam. Mm Mm.
Bohol Beach Club
Bo. Bolod, Island of Panglao, Bohol, Philippines 6340
I love love loved visiting the Bohol Beach club using their day passes, so much so I went twice! It really is great value for money as you pay 1000 PHP for entry but get to use 650 PHP towards food for the day at their brilliant restaurant. the prices are reasonable too, and I managed to use the credit towards lunch, dinner and a drink!
One of the dishes I really liked was this great tofu salad with rice, it was delicious! I was so impressed at the vegan options on offer at this wonderful resort. Along with this great mango smoothie it was so fresh and flavourful.
Here we have some more burgers on offer! (I said I had a hell of a lot of vegan burgers whilst I was in Bohol and I wasn’t joking!) ON the left was just their standard vegan burger made using beans, accompanied by fries, but on the right was a new try for me the ‘Ube’ burger. It seemed to be a very similar patty but the bun was purple! The Ube is actually a purple sweet potato, which must have been used to form the bun. Ube tastes very similar to the usual orange sweet potato we most commonly eat in the UK, and is also sometimes used in desserts.
Lastly, I found mash! I couldn’t believe it, I had a real hankering for mash, and this dish was great. The potatoes were smooth and creamy and they were accompanied by perfectly seasoned balsamic roast vegetables. Delicious!
Loboc River Lunch Cruise
This was the traditional Filipino lunch I had during the Loboc River Lunch Cruise. It was served up buffet style so there were meat and fish options available, but I stuck to all the delicious veggies and rice. you can read more about the River Cruise and all the other activities I enjoyed on this day trip in Bohol here.
Trudi’s Place Resort and Restaurant
Alona Beach, Tawala, Panglao, Bohol 6340
I found this place just as I was strolling along Alona beach after experiencing an amazing scuba diving session, only my second ever scuba dive but it was awesome! I’d worked up quite an appetite so was looking for something wholesome and filling and stumbled across Trudi’s Place. I enjoyed this delicious vegetable curry made using coconut milk accompanied by white rice. It was so good!
Cloud 9, General Luna, Surigao Del Norte, Philippines 8419
I found another Shaka! Woohoo! Sadly it didn’t have as wide a selection as the Shaka Cafe in Bohol but it still had all of their delicious smoothie bowls on offer. My favourite being the Bom Dia! Made up of açai, banana, mango, pineapple, berries and coconut milk.
Kali Ma Cafe by Lotus Shores
5 Tourism Rd, General Luna, Surigao del Norte, Philippines
Another great veggie place I found in Siargao was Kali Ma Cafe, part of Lotus Shores, a yoga retreat. Before you visit please please please wear bug spray! My poor legs were absolutely devoured and I was covered in mosquito bites by the time I left. Granted I did stay the best part of the day, enjoying the natural surroundings, and catching up on some work, but still even if you just visit for lunch or dinner, or even a yoga class put-that-mosquito-spray-on! I was quite the subject of amusement amongst locals wearing shorts around town with a million and one bites up my legs.
Anyway, onto the food! First up the Kimchi burrito, filled with quinoa, kimchi, jicama and tempeh, wrapped in a green pitta with cashew cream, accompanied by a delicious fruit smoothie. then onto dinner – the Bodhisattva Burger made up of tempeh and kidney beans with juicy sweet pineapple.
Tourism Rd, General Luna, Surigao del Norte, Philippines
I really enjoyed my visit to Cafe honest in Siargao. I chose the vegan shawarma for a light lunch, the tortilla was soft and inside was the vegan shawarma ‘mock meat’, with lettuce, onions and their signature ranch sauce. I could have eaten 2 or 3! Washed down with this gloriously thick mango smoothie, which was bursting with flavour!
Before I left, I asked the staff at Cafe honest if they were able to deliver – I wanted to try more of their menu but it was quite a distance for my hotel. They were more than happy yo deliver, so I placed my order there and then, and requested a time for delivery and paid. The food arrived on time and hot! I had the soy chicken, which was sticky and slightly spicy, served with white rice. I also chose the delicious mango sticky rice for dessert, which interestingly was made with red rice, but was still amazing!
Ima’s Vegetarian Restaurant
46 Fernandez St, Puerto Princesa, 5300 Palawan, Philippines
This was the first vegetarian restaurant I tried during my visit to Puerto Princesa. I found the restaurant using the happy cow app, but was a little disappointed with the offering. The tempeh was quite overcooked and dry, as was the burrito, which didn’t taste very much of anything. Sadly the fruit smoothie didn’t save the meal either, and was quite watery. I wouldn’t rush back to Imas again, but would be willing to give it another try if I returned to Puerto Princesa to try something else on their menu.
Namaskar Vegetarian Restaurant
Burgos St, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
The second vegetarian restaurant I tried was a much better experience. Namaskar offered up delicious lumpia (spring rolls), followed by sweet and sour rice. The sweet and sour was made up of vegetables and mock meat, served with white rice. For dessert, I took home a delicious vegan cake. I’m not quite sure what flavour it was or what it was made off but it had a sweet sticky surface, and the cake was soft and light.
Happiness Beach Bar
Serena St, Barangay Buena Suerte, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
I arrived quite late in the evening in el Nido after a 6-hour long mini can journey from Puerto princess so was keen to grab a bite to eat before hitting the hay. After a quick search on my happy cow app, I found happiness beach Bar was open and had vegan options available! I enjoyed the hummus and falafel served with some pickled veggies and bread. My eagle eye also spotted wine! After a long arduous journey through the windy bumpy roads of Palawan, a cool refreshing glass of white wine was just what was needed! The food was tasty, but not enough for me to return as it was also quite pricey.
Amakan Bed Bunk Breakfast
Amboy St, Barangay Buena Suerte, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
Here’s an example of a simple Filipino vegan breakfast from the buffet on offer at my hotel. They had lots of other options including eggs and meat, but obviously, I just stuck to the veggies. White rice, mixed vegetables, pineapple and banana – not a bad start to my five-a-day.
San Joaquin St, Barangay Buena Suerte, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
A teeny tiny restaurant in El Nido town centre, Pauls Magic just has a couple of bar stools if you want to eat in, although most customers seemed to grab take-out, so I managed to grab a bar stool on a couple of occasions and even chat to Paul about his vegetarian enterprise. All of the food on offer is veggie with quite a few options also being vegan. Just ask Paul to double-check.
I enjoyed the ‘veggie balls’ and ‘veggie burger’, both made with chickpeas and veggies, and also some ‘sweet potato chips’ which were pretty thin and more crisp-like, but delicious all the same. the prices are also extremely reasonable, oh and that burger was served on a dinner plate – it was huuuuge!
I was lucky enough to enjoy a few boat tours during my stay in El Nido, and the food provided was always wonderful. On one trip the boat crew whipped up this beautiful fruit platter on the boat whilst we were busy sightseeing on one of the islands.
Taste El Nido
1028 Rizal St, Barangay Buena Suerte, El Nido, 5313 Palawan, Philippines
This was one of my favourite places to grab a bite in El Nido. Their smoothie bowls are to die for, and they have a selection of seven different bowls to choose from. During my visit I had the pleasure of tasting the following:
‘Smooth Red’ (strawberry, banana, dragon fruit, goji berries, chia seeds, granola and coconut shavings.
‘Anti-oxidant Orange’ (mango, banana, soy milk, turmeric, cinnamon, coconut shavings, granola, chia seeds and pine nuts.
‘Hello Yellow’ (pineapple, mango, banana, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds and flax seeds)
As well as enjoying several smoothie bowls, I also tried some of taste El Nido’s main meals, including the:
Mac-n-‘Cheese’ (macaroni, broccoli, vegan cheddar cheese, nutritional yeast and garlic parmesan cheese). It came with a side of bread too, so I was in carb heaven!
Eggplant Lasagne (eggplant, pasta lasagne, cashew cheese, basil and marinara sauce). The lasagne had sooo many layers, and the taste was great but unfortunately, it seemed that the lasagne was made ahead and warmed in the microwave as some parts were boiling hot and some were stone cold. I still ate it all up nonetheless.
Lastly, check out these sweet treats, soy milk latte, banana nut bread and chocolate chip cookies. they were so delicious! The small cafe is a great space to spend an afternoon too, I plotted myself here a couple of times when it was raining and enjoyed their cool crisp air-con and strong wifi to catch up on some work.
Nacpan Beach Sunmai Sunset Restaurant
Nacpan Beach pier, El Nido, 5313 Palawan, Philippines
I thoroughly enjoyed my day spent at Nacpan Beach, apart from a showery interlude the weather was perfect. I spent the day nearby to Sunmai Sunset restaurant where I rented one of their sun loungers and parasols. they were also able to offer this yummy vegetable pasta for lunch and a cold refreshing apple flavour San Miguel.
Pizza and Amore
Lio Beach, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
This was the second delicious vegan pizza I enjoyed during my 5-week tour of The Philippines. Ok granted neither pizza had vegan cheese on them, but they were still so delicious! This one in particular from Pizza Amore at Lio Beach was great. Topped with tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and onion!
There were a couple of other options at Lio Beach available but I was glad I opted for this Italian feast. There was also a Shaka Cafe at Lio Beach too but unfortunately, it seemed to be temporarily closed…so watch this space, hopefully, it will re-open soon.
Taytay – El Nido National Hwy, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
Just along the National Highway on my way to Las Cabanas Beach, I stopped by to grab a bite. Sasson’s Shawarma is situated a short walk down an alleyway lined with a few small shops and other eateries, which seems to be currently under construction. I was drawn in by the falafel and hummus on the menu which is quickly becoming one of my fave vegan foods. All washed down with a mango daiquiri, which oh my packed an alcoholic punch! (not that I’m complaining).
Maremegmeg Beach Club
Sitio Maremegmeg, El Nido, 5313 Palawan, Philippines
I enjoyed another trip to the beach whilst I was in El Nido. I was planning on going to Las Cabanas but only made it as far as Maremegmeg Beach where I got tempted by the beach club, their deck chairs and fresh cocktails! I went for a pina colada, made with fresh pineapple and fresh coconut! My fave!
121 National Highway Brgy Poblacion, 1, Coron, Palawan, Philippines
I was overjoyed when I found Full Lotus using my trusty Happy Cow App, it was literally right next door to my accommodation! Full Lotus offers a variety of foods and different cuisines. As there wasn’t a huge number of vegan options in Coron and it was right next door (yeah I’m all for convenience) I dined there quite a few times.
Here are some of the small plates that were on offer, first up Tuscan Bruschetta, the homemade bread was quite dense but the I loved the zingy pesto with fresh tomatoes and olives. Next, we have delicious hummus and falafel, I could have devoured several small plates of these babies! Last but not least Mexican tostadas, these also came with the same creamy dressing drizzled on top, which complimented the tomato salsa beautifully.
I also tried one of the homemade pasta dishes at Full Lotus. This tasty tagliatelle had a tomato olive sauce, topped with aubergine. As well as the roasted vegetable panini. Similar to the bread used for the bruschetta this bread was quite dense, but satisfyingly filling. The roasted veggies were also delicious, and accompanied well by the addition of some zingy pesto!
I also tried this heart-warming pumpkin soup, topped with seeds and a spoon of cinnamon, which I wasn’t too keen on as the cinnamon then seemed to overpower the soup once it was mixed in. Nevertheless, it was still a healthy delicious bowl of goodness! Another dish I enjoyed at full lotus was this ‘Bangkok Bowl’. Dreamy coconut curry topped on a bed of brown rice, sprinkled with fried tofu, cucumber, and aubergine. Delish! I just wish it was a bigger bowl I could have eaten more!
Last but not least I had to try one of the desserts at Full Lotus. Here was my choice the ‘Mango Cheesecake’. Sadly, it seems these little cheesecakes call the freezer home, so when I ordered, there weren’t any portions already thawed. When I received the mango cheesecake though it seems it had made a little detour via the microwave before my table as parts of it had melted, but some parts were still frozen solid. I imagine if it had been properly thawed it would be much tastier!
National Hwy, Coron, Palawan 5316
As well as full Lotus I also frequented ‘Le voyage’ multiple times during my trip to Coron. Unfortunately, the weather had taken a turn for the worse as we were going into the rainy season which limited the availability of boat trips so I spent some time in this cafe, in particular, using their great wifi and enjoying their delicious food.
One of the breakfasts I enjoyed at Le Voyage was this hazelnut latte with banana oatmeal pancakes. The pancakes were so delicious, they were quite filling though so I only just managed to finish them all.
On a few other mornings, I opted for the overnight oats which were so good1 topped up with some additional soy milk, along with sliced bananas, chopped mango, chia seeds and peanut butter. They were so tasty!
I also stuck around for lunch on a. few occasions and tried their hummus and flatbread – delish, and vegetable lumpia (spring rolls) both were great as a light lunch or snack.
Feeling a bit hungrier, I also tried out their vegetable lasagne, which was on the unusual side, consisting of just-cooked pasta sheets, with quite al dente vegetables insides topped with a marinara and cream sauce. I also tried their veggie burger which was tasty but not particularly amazing. My favourite part of this place was their tasty vegan breakfasts and coffee.
I was quite suprised that the food in The Philippines wasn’t as cheap as I thought it would be. I do think though, often the vegetarian and vegan restaurants can sometimes be slightly more expensive as they don’t tend to be as reasonable as the ‘local’ eateries – usually serving up lots of meat. I aimed to stick to a budget of around £30 per day including accommodation, food, entertainment and transport. Turns out, that was a pretty tall order, and I ended up spending more like £45 per day. Of that I spent approximately £12 on food – generally eating 3 square meals, or sometimes 2 if breakfast was included with accommodation, and drinking alcohol only occasionally.
For me, my favourite traditional Filipino food was lumpia (spring rolls) I tried them on several occasions across the different islands and always enjoyed them. I also loved Bohol for great vegan options, with Shaka cafes being my all-time favourite chain of restaurants. Smoothie Bowls and burgers were my main highlight of The Philippines and I can’t wait to try to recreate them when I’m home!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my vegan guide to eating and thriving in The Philippines. Although they may be a nation of meat lovers, it’s so easy to find vegan food, as long as you have the tools available, like the Happy Cow app to track down all those tasty restaurants, and cafes.
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