Welcome to Vegan Taiwan

This blog is intended to be an introduction to vegan life in Formosa, better known as Taiwan, for English speakers (or anyone for that matter, but there's plenty in Chinese already).

Taipei Cityscape, as seen from Elephant Mountain, which is surrounded by many of Taiwan's best vegan restaurants.

While I do review restaurants, there are literally thousands of vegetarian restaurants in Taiwan, many of which serve similar food, and I doubt anyone could review all of them. So this blog is as much about life as a vegan in Taiwan, but I do review restaurants and explain how to find vegan restaurants and packaged food, and what to watch out for.
This blog is intended to be 'useful' to you, the vegan (or inspiring vegan) reader who is looking for information about Taiwan, whether you live there for work or study, whether you are planning or considering a holiday there (highly recommended!) or just interested in vegan life on one of the world's most vegan-friendly (and otherwise friendly) countries.

Every visitor to Taiwan must dine at least once at Sophie's Garden.

Food prices in Taiwan are very reasonable, and usually fairly uniform for the type of restaurant; it's often cheaper to eat out than to cook at home, and for that reason many small, modern apartments don't even have kitchens in them. For this reason, and because menus change faster than I could ever keep up with them, I rarely note the name of a particular dish, or the price. I will say, however, if a restaurant is particularly expensive or exceptionally good value. The aim of this blog is to give an overall idea of what a restaurant is like, not to offer specifics - for that please find menus online.

But it doesn't need to be all fine dining: these little vegetarian rice and noodle stalls are a quintessential dining experience in Taiwan, and many serve very good (simple) food.

When I review a restaurant, I never identify myself as a blogger before a meal (and rarely afterwards, unless I need extra information or to ask permission to publish something) and never ask for (or would accept) discounts or freebies for recommending a restaurant or other business.

And when even that isn't available (or open) a convenience store meal is always around the corner.

As much as possible I try to keep this blog positive, to celebrate the ever-increasing quality and range of vegan foods available in Taiwan, and to encourage non-vegans to eat vegan food in Taiwan, or vegans to travel to Taiwan (or non-vegans to travel to Taiwan to eat vegan food). There are, however, some restaurants I recommend avoiding, mostly because they have few vegan options or are not honest about which of their dishes are vegan.

Lantern Festival, Chiayi, 2010
I'd recommend most people avoid visiting Taiwan during Chinese New Year though.

Happycow
Happycow is the definitive vegetarian restaurant listing site. Perhaps because there are so many vegetarian restaurants that finding them is (at least for locals) no problem, Taipei's Happycow listing needs a lot of work. And Taiwan is one country in which the Happycow Android App would work exceptionally well, since it's unusual to be far from a veg'n restaurant. As the Happycow "ambassador" (volunteer) for Taipei I ask that everyone make an effort to add their local or favourite restaurants to Happycow, and submit any updates necessary.

Vegan Travel Guide
For six hears I have enjoyed offering free information to vegan or vegetarian visitors to Taiwan, and more recently Japan. So it was with some reluctance that I decided to 'go commercial', with my new Vegan Taiwan Travel Guide. I wanted to find a way to support myself in helping vegans travel the world (starting in Taiwan) without compromising the free (including advertisement-free) information on this website.

Length: 400 pages Price: USD 8.00
Full Description / Buy or Download free Sample
 
I have always found Happycow and blogs to be invaluable when travelling, however I've also usually carried a travel guide (eg Lonely Planet) to have easy, offline access to sights, activities, travel information, safety etc. But it's always frustrated me to need to spend hours planning ahead for how to visit my chosen restaurants while also seeing the sights recommended in a guide whose authors care little for vegans, animals and the environment, a book which usually recommends hundreds of non-veg restaurants, zoos, aquariums etc. So I believe that vegans need our own travel guides, which cover all the same basic travel information, but from a vegan perspective, recommending the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants, and certainly only ones with vegan options. Taiwan - A Travel Guide for Vegans was born out of this goal: a complete travel guide for vegans (or vegetarians).

Enjoy stewed tofu from this beautiful temple in Taroko Gorge, but don't trust their other menu items.
 
This 400-page guide covers food, sights, activities, restaurants, hotels, Taipei and intercity transport options, safety, and discussions of the religions, culture and history of Taiwan, all from a vegan perspective. The first edition covers only Northern Taiwan, including all destinations commonly visited by first-time travellers to Taiwan who come for up to around ten days. It should be possible to read the first page on what to pack and do before you leave, book a hotel for when you arrive, check the Taiwan weather forecast from the airport and  then plan your entire trip on the plane, using just this guide. Hyperlinks in the book go through to especially prepared maps made using Google Maps Engine (showing sights, restaurants and facilities) and Happycow reviews, so readers can view others' opinions besides my own. Screenshots of maps and addresses in Chinese (to show passers by and taxi drivers) are all included in the book for offline use.

Japan
From 2011-2014 I I lived in Yokohama, Japan (near Tokyo). I endeavour to maintain a sister-blog here. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or find anything out of date. Thank you.

Contact
I am happy to take questions by email, however I may sometimes be slow to respond. Please include the word 'blog' in the subject. If you have not heard back from me within a couple of weeks, please send me the email again, or a reminder. Xie xie.

A temple and basketball court beside a school, Alishan (2007)

This blog is NOT made on a Mac. And it's not made using Microsoft Windows or other software either. This blog is made using open source software. I run the Ubuntu operating system, and edit most of my photos with GIMP.

More information about this blog can be found at my original welcome message here.

Tian Yuan Pagoda, Tamsui (during cherry blossom season)

9 comments:

  1. I'm visiting Taipei for Lunar New Year. I'm traveling solo and plan to visit some of the places you've blogged about. Want to have lunch? :)

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  2. What a helpful resource! I found your site before I moved to Taiwan and it greatly helped me before and during my time here. I've also started a blog featuring lots of vegan treats in Kaohsiung. Munch on!

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  3. http://kuriouskittenskookykrusades.blogspot.tw/ check if you please

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  4. Jesse, come visit me in Jingmei afterwork sometime, ill take you around to show you some local vegan spots you can blog about.

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  5. Hello Jesse,
    I found your blog while randomly searching for vegan information in Taiwan.

    A friendly reminder for you and for all vegans who'd like to try "stinky tofu", just in case if you all don't know already, that to be extra careful before ordering.

    Many vendors use "eggs" as fermenting material for the tofu.
    Only a few vendors would use 100% plant-based fermenting method, at least in my experience.

    They don't mean to lie, but many Taiwanese vendors have trouble differentiating between vegan and vegetarian. So, instead of asking them if the tofu's vegan(su-shih / chuan-su), we have to ask specifically if eggs were added during fermentation.

    By the way. Love your blog. :-)

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  6. Hello

    Thank you very much for this information. And it's very timely and helpful, as I recently read on Wikipedia that Stinky tofu is often fermented with milk, and was quite worried about this, especially when it's been on my blog header for years!

    I recently tried stinky tofu from a Loving Hut. They were unable to tell me about other vendors, but noticed how different theirs was to everywhere else, and this alone was enough to make me concerned. I know the Minder Vegetarian chain also sell stinky tofu, and they don't use egg, but do use a lot of milk, so wonder if they use milk instead of egg?

    It looks like I'd better change my blog header and warn people about this. Thank you very much!

    Jesse

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  7. Wow, what an amazing site... Thank you for all your hard work in making this precious info available! I wish it had been around when I was teaching in Taiwan many years ago.

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  8. Is there a store in Taipei that sells fake meat products? Frozen or canned. Like Loma Linda? I have a daughter living there and she's looking. Thanks for your great blog!

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