Eating out as a vegan in India is not too difficult, though finding healthy whole foods may be harder. Read our top tips to find delicious vegan meals.
Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Malaysian and Burmese cuisines
When eating out as a vegan, these places are the easiest because apart from the Indian subcontinent, the cuisines of Asian countries do not traditionally use milk. When you ask for vegetarian you will likely avoid dairy. But do check if the noodles or batter contain egg!
Most Indian vegetarian cuisine is vegan as long as you avoid ghee, butter, paneer and curd (yogurt). South Indian food has many vegan options (like dosa, idli, vada, rice dishes, sambhar, coconut chutney) but with North Indian food it’s more difficult. Naan contains egg unless you are eating in a vegetarian restaurant and many dishes contain dairy, so ask before ordering. Most Indian desserts are made with dairy and sugar.
Sweets and chaats
The following street foods are vegan:
- Paani Puri
- Bhel Puri
- Sev Puri
- Ragda Pattice (if not fried in ghee)
- Samosa Chole
- Chole Bature
- Vada Pav
- Samosa Pav
- Misal Pav
- Dhoklas (ask if curd has been added to the batter)
Some Indian vegan sweets include:
- Soan Papdi, Jalebis (check if yogurt was added to the batter and/or it was fried in ghee)
- Kaju Katli
- The Khajoor Burfi and the Anjeer Burfi at Kanti Sweets
Italian restaurants often cook in olive oil so they too may be able to offer you something vegan by dropping the cheese. Salads are often a healthy vegan option. Breads sometimes contain milk. A failsafe option would be to ask for Spaghetti Aglio-Olio, and ask them hold the parmesan topping.
Coffee shops and fast food
If you’re joining friends at Café Coffee Day, try one of their vegan drinks like the Coconut Milk Latte, Vegan Shake, Irish Coffee, Lemon Demon, strawberry-flavoured iced tea, or Arctic Blast. At Barista try the flavoured Iced Tea or Sparkle Soda. The Slimmers Veg Sandwich, sugar doughnuts and blueberry tarts are also vegan. McDonald’s has a vegan burger on its menu and vegan options are also available at Subway. Bear in mind that to be a healthy vegan, you should avoid fast food and only indulge occasionally!
Use the App!
To find vegan meals near you – whether that is in an exclusively vegan restaurant or an omnivorous one – check the Zomato app for vegan restaurants or vegan options, and you’d be surprised at the choices you will get!
Independent restaurants are likely to have vegan options already on the menu or they will be happy to create something for you. It is best to call ahead to check rather than to rely on the chef being prepared on the night but if you don’t, it is usually possible to easily adapt a dish already on the menu and it is rare to find a chef who won’t cater for you. Often, they relish the opportunity to flex their creative muscles.
If you need inspiration for delicious vegan dishes to cook at home, see our vegan meal ideas.