In Thailand, more restaurants than ever before are going out of their way to minimise their impact on the environment while offering a wider range of options for both vegetarians and vegans. Here are some of the top options for those seeking a more environmentally-responsible culinary experience. Green food never looked so good...
Enjoy a new twist on the concept of slow food at Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood. You have to be a guest to eat here, but spending a night at this luxurious resort is hardly a sacrifice. Diners sit inside super-sized rattan baskets hanging from the trees. The meals are delivered by waiters who zip-line through the jungle and consist of fresh, organic food grown in the resort’s garden. Our favourite dish is the white fish, baked in banana leaves and served with homemade salsa verde.
95 per cent of the options on the menu at Japanese restaurant Sustaina are vegan-friendly, with the most popular dish being the King of Tofu – a cold soup made with kinu-tofu, ginger and seaweed. The owners of this small restaurant say their aim is to protect the environment by embracing organic ingredients and shunning chemicals, and much of their produce is sourced from the Harmony Life Organic Farm. If you stop by, don’t forget to check out the restaurant’s small organic supermarket on the ground floor.
The world’s first insect-based fine dining restaurant was set up by top Bangkok chef Thitiwat Tantragarn – a man who’s seriously passionate about the benefits of insect-based cuisine, and a firm believer that we need to end our reliance on mass-produced meat. Dine here and he’ll regale you fascinating facts – who knew that four glasses of crickets contain the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk for example? All of the insects are sustainably sourced from local farms, and the most popular option is the six-course tasting menu, which includes water beetle ravioli and nachos topped with cherry tomato salsa, sour cream – and crickets, of course.
Although you’ll find meat on the menu at this pretty Koh Tao café, it’s also a popular spot for vegetarians and vegans – and one of the few places on Koh Tao which serves vegan cheese. Staff at the South Beach Café also get a gold star for eliminating all plastic from the premises, and going out of their way to source non-diary alternatives to popular classics. Oh, and (vegetarians and vegans look away now) the beef burgers are regarded as the best on the island.
Green Light Café and Bar is considered one of the top vegetarian and vegan restaurants on Koh Samui, and you’ll find a fantastic selection of gluten-free options, too. All of the meals are prepared with local, organic ingredients, including many grown in the on-site garden. It’s part of the fantastic 14-room Elysia Samui hotel, where staff describe their main goals as social responsibility, self sufficiency and reduction of their carbon footprint. And they’re off to a great start, sourcing almost all of their water from a local well.
Head to the Wild Tribe Superfood Café and Juice Bar for fresh juices, superfood smoothies and raw food – in a nutshell, everything your body needs to detoxify. Staff hold regular workshops about everything from nutrition to detoxification, and the vast majority of ingredients are locally sourced and organic. Everything on the menu is made from scratch and it’s ridiculously healthy too, thanks largely to the input of the restaurant’s “food alchemist” (and qualified nutritionist) Anastasia Khmelovets.
Founder JoJo became frustrated with the lack of vegan food on offer in Thailand, so she decided to tackle the problem head on and set up her own café. The menu’s filled with raw food and juices, and staff go out of their way to minimise their impact on the environment, using bamboo straws and sourcing food locally. This includes the café’s legendary vegan burger buns, purchased from a local bakery. A chunk of the proceeds goes to local good causes, including an elephant sanctuary. Don’t forget to check out the funky menu holders either – one of the café’s regulars made them from driftwood found on the nearby beach.
You’ll find The Grotto at the five-star Rayavadee resort in Krabi. A dinner at The Grotto, tucked inside a cave, gives a whole new meaning to feel good food. Most of the ingredients are sourced from Hilltribe Organics, an organisation which triples farmers’ incomes by contracting them to set up organic farms. That all-important post-dinner caffeine fix comes courtesy of Mivana, a Thailand-based community initiative which helps support coffee growers in rural areas. The restaurant and the entire resort also works with various fair trade initiatives, social enterprises and charities, and one Thai baht is donated to the Thailand-based Food4Good charity for every meal ordered at the restaurant.