While I was getting ready for the trip I was wondering how it would be like as a vegan in Cambodia. I had no idea what they eat; and what I would be able to eat from those things.
On the internet I read over and over again that the bordering countries offer a lot more options without animal products, whereas Cambodia serves a lot of fish and meat dishes.
So I packed some extra vegan granola bars and was ready for some adventure 🙂
I soon learned that their staple food is rice; which hey, is vegan. They eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and sometimes as a snack for in between. While some of my fellow travellers developed a positive aversion to rice, I began to realize how much I actually love it – I was well on the way to become a little Cambodian.
Since Cambodia is located in Asia they have an amazing range of the best tasting fruits. Not only are they tasting so much better, but also cost a lot less than overseas.
Little stores at the markets or by the roadside offer everything from grapes, bananas, pineapples, apples, watermelon, and oranges to coconuts, dragon fruits, jackfruits, pomelos, mangos and papayas. Some women even make a little extra money, and peel and cut their fruits for you.
What I have read about Cambodians and them using a lot of meat and fish for their dishes is true. Now and then there is a vegetarian/vegan meal listed in the menu, but usually there was not much for me to choose from – which helped me decide faster 🙂
However, when I couldn’t find anything vegan, I asked if I might replace non vegan foods with vegan stuff like fruits or vegetables. So sometimes I ordered fruits with a side of fruits 🙂
One hotel had served muesli and fruits with either milk or yoghurt for breakfast, but as both are not vegan, I asked if I could have it with water instead (if you like it sweeter just add a little sugar).
At times when I wasn’t sure what a dish meant or how they prepared it I simply asked. I always told them I couldn’t eat meat, dairy and eggs and asked if they could make something I would be able to eat. At some places communications were a little difficult but “fried rice vegetable” is something every waiter/waitress understands. And if worst comes to worst, you could still show them a picture of what you would like to have.
I tried a lot of different food – from fried rice, over steamed vegetables, chilli, curry, plain rice with soya sauce, tofu, noodles, and tempura to weird things I didn’t know but was assured it is vegan.
The natives are all very friendly and always try to make it work for you. At one restaurant they got their son to take my order since the parents couldn’t understand what I meant but the boy learns English at school. At another place I was known as “the lady who eats no dairy and eggs” and at one hostel the cook always prepared vegan food separately and let me know what it was made of.
During my whole time in Cambodia I never had any trouble finding foods for me to eat – and at the end I even had some granola bars left 🙂