Bali – The best study-abroad destination for vegans and vegetarians

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Are you vegan or vegetarian, and do you want to study abroad? Here is why Bali is a perfect choice!

Do you want to study abroad but are nervous about living abroad as a vegan or vegetarian? Don’t worry – we got you! More and more people decide to switch to a plant-based diet. However, your food options highly depend on which country you are living in. You may find it easy to navigate your food choices at home and have found a daily routine that works for you effortlessly. Even for people who have been vegetarians for years, traveling abroad can be challenging. But trying new dishes, spices and tastes is one of the fun parts of exploring foreign cultures. Among all study abroad destinations of Asia Exchange, Bali is the number one pick for vegan and vegetarian exchange students! Here is why Bali is the best vegan and veggie-friendly study abroad destination:

*V = vegetarian, VG = vegan

Indonesian vegan and vegetarian food

Indonesian cuisine offers a wide range of plant-based food. Thus, Bali is the best place for vegans and vegetarians! Indonesian food is often vegan-friendly or can be adjusted to a plant-based diet. Moreover, you will save money by skipping meat and fish. In Indonesia, vegetables, tofu, and tempeh are cheaper than meat. Like all local food, the dishes below are affordable, with around 10,000 – 30,000 IDR (0,60 – 1,83 EUR) per portion. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, people in Germany ate 80.5kg, and people in France ate 77.97kg of meat per person in 2017. In contrast, Indonesians only ate 11.7kg of meat. Finally, here are various meatless Indonesian dishes:

Tempeh is used a lot in the vegetarian kitchen in Indoensia, like here served in a Teriyaki sauce

Gado-Gado (V/VG)

This popular vegetarian dish from Indonesia, which is literally translated as “mix mix,” is like a wholesome salad. Gado Gado is one of the five national foods of Indonesia. It is offered by street food sellers, small markets, and eateries in practically every region of Indonesia. The dish is made from fresh veggies, potatoes, bean sprouts, fried tofu, and boiled eggs. But the signature of this meal is the spicy and flavorful peanut sauce it comes with. But every region has its own version of this vegetarian dish. Tip: You can order it without egg. Below you will find some useful Indonesian vocabulary!

Nasi Goreng (V/VG)

Nasi Goreng is another vegetarian must-try of the five national dishes in Indonesia. Translated, it means “Fried Rice,” which is fried with vegetables, egg, garlic, spices, and sometimes chili. It has a sweet, savory, spicy, and umami taste. In addition, Nasi Goreng is so popular that you will find countless interpretations of this dish. Every Warung (small local restaurant) serves its unique version. But in general, it is served with spring onion, fresh chili, and a fried egg.

Mie Goreng (V)

In English, Mie Goreng is fried noodles. These hot and comforting egg noodles are served with stir-fried vegetables, garlic, and chilies and are often topped with a fried egg. You will find this dish at every corner, which is as cheap as Nasi Goreng. Locals especially love the “Indomie” instant noodles they make at home or buy in local food places. You can buy instant noodles in the supermarket for only 500-1,000 IDR, which equals 0,03 – 0,06 EUR. There are different options, like Indomie Telor, which is served with a fried egg.

Perkedel (V/VG)

Fritters are made from chopped potatoes or corn, seasoned and processed with Indonesian spices. The recipes often include egg to bin the fritter. However, it can also be vegan in some places. You can just friendly ask with the vocabulary below.

Tempe Goreng (VG)

Vegans should watch out for Tempe Goreng since you will find this dish in almost every Warung. Tempeh is fermented soybeans that are pressed together in a cake. Firstly, the tempeh gets marinated in garlic, water, and additional seasoning for a few minutes. Then, it will be fried until golden and crispy. Mostly, it is served with rice and sambal. Tempeh is an excellent source of protein, with 19g/100g.

Lalapan (VG):

Lalapan is a street food that you can usually eat for dinner. It is a mix of raw fresh veggies like cabbage, green beans, cucumber, tomato, or similar on the side with white rice (nasi putih). The center of this vegan dish is usually fried meat or fish, or the vegan option with tofu (tahu), tempeh (temple), or eggplant (terong).

Lalapan is a typical Indonesian dish that you find everywhere, like here with tempe and tahu goreng

Vegetarian food at university events

Another major reason Bali is the best study-abroad destination for vegans and vegetarians is the vegetarian food at Udayana University and Warmadewa University. Asia Exchange creates WhatsApp groups for each semester. When a university organizes an event, workshop, ceremony, or excursion, they ask these groups who would need vegetarian food. This way, no vegan or vegetarian must worry about what to eat. The vegetarian offers are vegan-friendly, too, since, for instance, eggs are served separately. And as said before, Indonesian food, in general, is very vegan-friendly.

Meet like-minded people – Bali’s vegan scene

When you study abroad in Bali, you will meet many like-minded people. The island is a magnet for yogis, fitness enthusiasts, foodies, environmentally conscious people, animal lovers, and outdoorsy nature addicts. And many happen to have the same interest in plant-based food! Don’t worry; you won’t have to explain yourself or stand out with your diet choices. You will be in the best company. Moreover, most cafes and restaurants offer food for everyone, so you will not struggle to compromise with your non-vegetarian friends.


Insider tips: Best vegan restaurants and cafes

However, there are also some 100% vegan and vegetarian cafes and restaurants. Even if you are an omnivore, you should treat yourself with a good meal and coffee in the following places in Bali!

Where?Restaurant/CafeVegan or Veggie?
CangguI’m vegan babeVG
CangguDua Hati CafeVG
CangguAmami ItalianVG
CangguPels SupershopVG
CangguThe Sloth BaliVG
CangguShady ShackV
CangguThe Secret SpotVG
SeminyakKind communityVG
SeminyakHappy Buddha VegetarianV
SeminyakWaroeng BernadetteV
SeminyakTasty VeganVG
SeminyakTRu Plant – Based FoodVG
SeminyakCafe Organic PetitengetV
SeminyakNamaskar Thali In Bali Vegetarian IndianV
UluwatuAlchemy UluwatuVG
UbudWarung GreenVG
UbudSayuri Healing FoodVG
UbudThe Seeds of LifeVG
The Mie Kuah at Tasyt Vegan in Seminyak is a great example for easy it is to make vegan versions of the local dishes

The vocabulary you need to know as a vegan or vegetarian in Bali

Most Indonesians will understand your English food order. However, many menus in local restaurants are in Indonesian. And sometimes, it can help to know a few words to communicate your order or prevent misunderstanding. If you plan to travel through Indonesia, this vocabulary will help you in less touristic places:

No meat/egg pleaseTolong jangan daging/telur
Vegetarian foodMakanan vegetarian
Water spinachKangkong
Green beansKacang buncis
Sambal with shrimp pasteSambal terasi
Nasi/normal white riceRice/ nasi putih
I take the fried rice without egg, please.Saya/Aku mau nasi goreng tanpa telur

Why is Bali the best vegan and veggie-friendly study abroad destination?

Bali is like a food heaven for vegans and vegetarians: it is very affordable, and you have a wide variety of local dishes and amazing vegan and vegetarian restaurants and cafes. Moreover, you are among like-minded people. Why not try a vegetarian Indonesian cooking class with your friends? Or go shopping at a local fruit market? Immerse yourself in the culture and explore the local vegetarian options. You will love it! In that sense, enjoy your meal or, as they say in Indonesia, “Selamat makan!”

Read also: 5 reasons why you shouldn’t be scared of studying abroad

bali vegan food
Bali is a food heaven for vegans and vegetarians – You will find vegan options in almost every cafe like here at Tarabelle in Uluwatu

Click here if you are interested in studying abroad in Bali!

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