Updated: Aug 14, 2018
The major plot twist and reroute to Thailand made me extremely anxious for a variety of reasons— the last minute change, the terrible communication from airlines, the uncertainty of whether we could get into Thailand, etc.— but I know one large thought lingering in my mind was “WTF am I going to eat in Phuket?”
If you’re a frequent IsaTales reader, you know that I’m a firm believer in food as fuel and food as medicine, which means I’m particular about what I feed my body and I like to make sure I’m getting all the nutrients i need while also feeling soulfully fulfilled. To answer your immediate thought: yes, chocolate is included in this way of life. I just prefer raw cacao. Ya feel me?
Ubud, Bali is known for little cafes that have amazing, pure and indulgent food. So when we had to reroute to Phuket, I was slightly disappointed but excited for the challenge.
Luckily, a little town called Rawai saved the day. This beachside town is bustling with locals and transplants from Aussie, Europe, and some accents I couldn’t even put a finger on. It was also bustling with healthy plant-based cafes. Ok maybe 3 isn’t considered “bustling”, but I’ll take what I can get.
Wilson’s Cafe was our first stop. It’s a small cafe hidden in the corner of a street with a scary looking sign that seemed really sketchy at first, until i realized it was a recreation of the “Wilson” volleyball from Castaway.
The menu selection made me feel like I was back in Venice Beach. Healthy smoothie bowls with pancakes for the surfer groms and peanut butter energy balls for the snackers (me). In an honest review, the green smoothie bowl was not very good. The pancakes with berry compote alongside the peanut butter energy ball on the other hand... next level.
I’ll skip the boring nonsense of where to stay (if you’re interested in suggestions, please DM me on Instagram!! So happy to help) and instead just cut it straight to the vegan cafe reviews since that’s what you’re all probably here for, right guys?
That evening we hit this place called Natural Efe Macrobiotic World which actually turned out to be a yoga and healing center. You walk in to a functional nutrition storefront, proceeded by a vegan cafe with a view of the fully wooden sauna, kundalini yoga room and swimming pool engulfed by natural foliage. So magical.
The food was also fantastic. Both Erik and I went into the meal not very hungry, and we ended up ordering seconds AND desert. Fml.
I highly recommended whatever the daily baked good is, judging by the fact that the sample I had of the daily cake just melted in my mouth. I would also recommend the pumpkin risotto and coconut veggie curry, finished off with their refined sugar free chocolate ice cream.
After checking out of our Airbnb in Amphoe Mueang Phuket we decided to head back into Rawai to hit a raw vegan cafe before heading up north.
Atsumi was delicious. I highly recommend the raw pizza. Erik was disappointed with the veggie wrap (but he basically doesn’t like anything unless it has avocado in it) and he felt hungry after still. I was perfectly content. If you are ravishing, get a smoothie alongside your meal. Beware, the smoothies are not thick and creamy. More liquidy and cold, but the flavor does not disappoint.
Aside from these three major cafes, Erik and I practically survived off of fresh cut fruit from the stands on the side of the road and cashews from Family Mart (which are a total bargain compared to the US price). If you’re a nut fan, make sure to check ingredients before you buy in Thailand. Many of the roasted nuts have weird additives like wheat flour, hydrogenated oils and artificial preservatives. There is usually a pure, raw cashew package next to the sh!t version though. No happy medium I guess? One thing I have to note before concluding this post is the wildlife entertainment industry in the country. Thailand and many other parts of Southeast Asia offer a large handful of “wild” animal attractions that seem like a great idea in theory, but are animal welfare traps in reality.
What sets Thailand apart from Hawaii, Miami and other tropical jungles is often the elephants and monkeys. Yes, it’s totally cool to appreciate the incredible wildlife Thailand has to offer, but there are ethical ways to do so and I encourage travelers to vote with their wallet. Don’t support the animal enclosures and monkey shows. Instead, visit an elephant sanctuary or rescue center (make sure they have initiatives to bring them back to the wild or at least don’t keep them in enclosures) and for the monkeys, you can often see them in the jungle (I found many monkey families in the mangroves off Bang Rong dock north east of Phuket). It’s more fun to see them in their natural habitat anyway!
Here are a few reputable elephant sanctuaries around Thailand: 1. Elephant Nature Park (just north of Chiang Mai) 2. Boon Lotts Elephant Sanctuary (Sukhothai) 3. Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary (near Maechaem)
I hope this guide helps you enjoy being a veggie in Thailand.