Known for its noodle soup, braised rice, soup dumplings, and more, Taiwan is a vegetarian paradise just waiting to be explored. This year, PETA named Taipei as the most vegan-friendly city in Asia due to its abundance of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants and cafes. Additionally, Taiwan has the world’s third-highest rate of vegetarianism, with 13% of the population identifying as vegetarian. Because of this, Taiwan’s vegetarian scene is abundant, delicious, and innovative. From iconic street snacks to traditional Buddhist temple fare, this survival guide to being vegetarian in Taiwan will help you navigate bustling markets and local eateries for a satisfying plant-based journey.
If you’re vegan, you’ll also have plenty of options in Taiwan. You’ll find that most of the advice in this guide to being vegetarian in Japan applies to vegans as well. However, many of Taiwan’s vegetarians are ovo-lacto, meaning they eat eggs and dairy. Therefore, many vegetarian Taiwanese dishes are not vegan. Make sure to specify your exact dietary restrictions when searching for vegan food.
Vegetarian in Taiwan: Tips
- Look for the character “素” (su), which means vegetarian. It’s often displayed on vegetarian restaurants and food stall signs.
- Look out for hidden meat and fish-based sauces, which are in lots of Taiwanese dishes
- Taiwan has a strong Buddhist tradition, and most Buddhist temples have vegetarian eateries nearby
- Join guided tours in rural areas where there are fewer veggie options and limited English knowledge – your tour guide will be aware of vegetarian options and be able to communicate on your behalf to restaurant staff
- Know what Taiwanese foods are likely to be vegetarian or come in a vegetarian option. These include:
- Scallion pancake (my absolute favorite!)
- Stinky tofu (if you’re brave)
- Vegetable buns and dumplings
- Sweet potato balls
- Fried mushrooms (& other vegetables)
- Grilled mochi
- Sticky rice roll
- Vermicelli soup and noodles
- Roasted rice ball
- Braised vegetable rice
- Vegetable noodle soup
- Turnip cake
- Guabao (“Taiwanese hamburger”)
- Know what apps to download to optimize your search for the most and best options! Keep reading for my app suggestions.
Vegetarian in Taiwan: Apps to Download
Google Maps (free)
Google Maps is an essential app to use in Taiwan. Not only is the navigation extremely reliable for getting around using public transportation, but Google Maps will be your best friend for searching and mapping out veggie options. Once you know your travel route in Taiwan, do a preliminary Google Search for “vegetarian (or vegan) restaurants in ____.” Create a saved list on Google Maps to save these suggestions for easy, location-based access during your travels.
Another great way to use Google Maps to your advantage is to simply search “vegetarian” or “vegan” in the search bar on the app, with the location set to the area you want to search. This will pull up any restaurants that mention these keywords in the reviews, allowing you to discover hidden gems that the rest of the internet might not know about yet.
HappyCow is my all-time favorite app for finding veggie-friendly restaurants worldwide throughout my travels and Taiwan is no exception. It uses your current location to pull up a map of vegetarian and vegan options nearby. It’s color-coded to distinguish between restaurants that are vegan, vegetarian, and offer veggie options. You’ll find reviews and photos from other plant-based visitors, allowing you to choose the best of the best options. It’s currently $3.99 on the App Store, but it is worth much more for how much trouble it will save you!
Google Translate (free)
Did you know that around 30% of Taiwanese people speak English as a second language? You’re going to need a good translation app, and I recommend Google Translate because it allows you to translate both sides of a spoken conversation in real-time. You can also take a picture of anything (like a menu) and it will translate the entire page. If you find yourself in a restaurant with a menu fully in Mandarin and staff with no English knowledge, Google Translate will get you by.
Airalo (free, cost varies for eSIMs)
To use all these apps on the go and find vegetarian options no matter when or where, you’re going to need a data plan! My favorite option for accessing the Internet across the world is the Airalo eSIM. An eSIM doesn’t need to be physically put in and taken out; it’s simply installed onto your phone and connects to Internet anywhere in the world as soon as you land. Instead of wasting time looking for a local plastic SIM, you can activate the eSIM immediately after installation or upon arrival in Taiwan. This is the easiest and most convenient option, and it’s reliable. I’ve used Airalo all over the world and I’m always a happy customer. Plus, if you are continuing your travels after Taiwan, you can get a regional Asia eSIM that works in 14 countries.
Keep in mind that eSIMs only provide data service for connecting to the Internet, not calling and texting plans. If you need to make calls or send texts abroad, then you can pick up a physical SIM card at the airport upon arrival by pre-ordering here.
Vegetarian in Taiwan: The Best Restaurants
Minder Vegetarian – buffet, multiple locations in Taipei
I felt like a kid in a candy store at Minder Vegetarian, with its vegetarian buffet featuring over 20 dishes. You grab a plate and fill it up with whatever you want before paying by weight. The dishes aren’t labeled, so watch out for the stinky tofu if it isn’t your thing!
Lái Xīn SùShí – vegan dumplings & noodles, Zhongshan, Taipei
This small vegetarian restaurant specializes in handmade dumplings and noodles. There are 6 different types of dumplings, and you can watch them making the dumplings and noodles by hand as you wait for your food. The owner is friendly and speaks English well, so she will help you understand the menu.
Vege Creek – vegetarian noodles, multiple locations in Taipei
Vege Creek specializes in build-your-own noodle bowls. There’s a selection of fresh vegetarian ingredients, including soy meats, that they will cook up for you in a light vegetable broth. It’s customizable, affordable, and delicious.
Yang Shin – vegetarian dim sum, Zhongshan, Taipei
One of the nicer restaurants on this list, Yang Shin serves up Cantonese-style dim sum in vegan and vegetarian varieties. There is a wide variety of both small dishes and large entrees. It’s a popular place, so I recommend making a reservation in advance here or arriving early.
Loving Hut – vegan Asian & Western food, locations in Taipei, Yilan, Luodong, Kaohsiung, and Magong
Loving Hut is a global vegan restaurant chain, with each branch serving its own unique menu. Most branches have a variety of both Asian and Western dishes, such as bibimbap, curry, noodles, pizza, and pasta.
God Guo Hot Pot – hot pot, Ximending, Taipei
Hotpots are a popular dining experience in Taiwan, where you can choose from various fresh vegetables and tofu and cook them in a hot stew right in front of you. At God Guo, there is a vegetarian soup base option and plenty of fresh veggie ingredients that you can choose from. The hot pots are done individually, which is nice if you’re dining with a meat-eater. It’s an affordable set price for 2 hours of unlimited hot pot, drinks, and ice cream.
Mayur Indian Kitchen – vegetarian Indian, Zhongzeng, Taipei
There are several Mayur Indian restaurants in Taipei, but this branch is fully vegetarian. It serves both Northern and Southern Indian food and the staff speaks English. Everything is clearly labeled as vegetarian, vegan, or Buddhist (no onions and garlic).
BaganHood – vegan Western, Xinyi, Taipei
If you’re craving Western food during your Asia travels, BaganHood offers pizza, burgers, salads, brunch, and soy meat-based dishes. It’s modern, flavorful, and innovative. You can easily make a reservation in advance here.
From bustling night markets filled with meat-free street food to serene temples serving healthy vegetarian meals, Taiwan is the perfect destination for any vegetarian or vegan foodie. This small island has a thriving plant-based scene for travelers who don’t want their dietary restrictions to compromise their ability to enjoy local cuisine.
Need help planning your Taiwan trip? Check out my ultimate Taiwan travel guide & 1-week itinerary next.