Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Taipei's Best Vegan Restaurants

This page is a work in progress - opening hours and other details and images to come. 

In this post I summarise Taipei's best vegan restaurants to help visitors choose where to eat while in Taipei.

This information follows the same system as my books (Taiwan, a Travel Guide for Vegans and Taipei in Four Days: A Travel Guide for Vegans). If you are looking for information on vegan food you should hopefully find what you are looking for here on this blog and of course Happycow (I'm the Taipei "Ambassador" / volunteer contact person, and try to keep it and this page up to date and consistent with my books). My books do include this same information of course, but focus mostly on travel: what to see, where to go, transport, safety etc, much like conventional travel guides (eg Lonely Planet, Rough Guide) but of course only recommend vegan-friendly restaurants and animal and earth-friendly entertainment and activities.

Key & Notes

Price

$ = A basic meal can be had for around (or under) NT100
$$ = A typical meal costs between NT100 - NT400
$$$ = A meal costs over NT400

Price range: this is the range of prices for which one could have a satisfying meal, with a basic main or set at the lowest end to the most elaborate set and a drink at the higher end.

Menu & Drinks

All these restaurants are vegan unless stated otherwise (Fruitful Food also serves eggs and dairy products).
As most vegan (and vegetarian) restaurants in Taiwan are run by spiritually-minded people (or cater to them) most do not serve alcohol. Restaurants do not serve alcohol unless stated otherwise, but many offer non-alcoholic beer and other beverages.

Best Restaurants At a Glance

Links stay in the page (to come). Most of these restaurants are in Eastern Taipei (see Map). 

Restaurants by Category

Best Restaurant

Others

Best food overall

Flourish ($$$) Tofunia ($$)
Best Taiwanese Guangfu Loving Hut ($$$) Taiwan Su ($)
Best fusion food Flourish ($$$) Tofunia ($$)
Best boutique restaurant Mianto ($$$) SoulR ($$$)
Best Western comfort food About Animals ($$), Tofunia ($$), Ooh Cha Cha ($$) Mianto ($$$)
Best dining experience SoulR ($$$) Mianto ($$$)
Best raw food Plants Eatery ($$$) Ooh Cha Cha ($$) serves raw desserts. 
Best buffet (not all vegan) Fruitful Food ($$$, not all vegan) Veggie Ocean Loving Hut ($$)
Best Japanese / Korean Tian Zhuan Zhai Loving Hut ($$) Flourish ($$$)
Best burgers About Animals ($$) Ooh Cha Cha ($$)
Best pizza Tofunia ($$) Mianto ($$$) 
Category not here? Please suggest it in comments. 



Flourish ($$$, Fusion)



11:00 – 21:00
Reservations are recommended. A few minutes' walk from Zhongxiao Dunhua Station, Exit 4. Make a U-turn as you walk out the exit, turn right immediately into Lane 170, and then take the second left (just after the post office). Flourish will be on your right.
Directions from your location
Facebook, Happycow
台北市大安區敦化南路一段巷32號
Number 32, Lane 233, Section 1, Dunhua South Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City.

Ma Po Tofu is usually difficult to find vegan, let alone as healthy as this.


Flourish is one of the newest and most popular vegan restaurants in Taipei. It offers a delicious range of Western, Taiwanese and Japanese-inspired dishes which are among the best value in Taipei. It's also one of the few restaurants open between lunch and dinner (and until ____) so I recommend reserving in advance (via Facebook) or else turning up between lunch and dinner, or after about 19:00. The interior is large and crowded, and service is prompt and efficient. While the whole dining experience is very enjoyable, food is the focus, not service, decor or atmosphere.

Least expensive meal set: NT300
Meal set, dessert & drink: NT700 - 1000
If it's closed or you can't get a seat: Most restaurants recommended here are in walking distance, but Kaya Kaya Cafe around the corner is also a popular jaunt for western food, but is not all vegan.

Ooh Cha Cha ($$, Western, Sandwiches, Bowls & Burgers)

Guting Station, Exit 2
Walk straight as you exit, take your first right and it's on the right when you reach the first corner (one minute from the station).
Number 207, Section 2, Nanchang Road
台北市南昌路二段207
Directions
Mon – Fri: 10:00 – 21:00
Sat–Sun: 10:00 – 20:00
(02) 2367-7133

Ooh Cha Cha is the place to come for a quick healthy recharge.

Ooh Cha Cha is one of Taipei's most famous cafes, and deservedly so, for it's been serving up simple, delicious, healthy vegan meals for years, including Taipei's best sandwiches and meal bowls. Its menu has also expanded into burgers and raw desserts.

However, there's a catch with Ooh Cha Cha, which makes it disappoint a few visitors: it's what you probably get at home (if you're lucky enough to live in a vegan-friendly city), and if you're a good chef you probably can and do cook similar food yourself. Its simple, healthy meals make it a perfect go-to cafe for resident vegans looking for a healthier alternative to the usual overcooked veggies and fake meat, drowned with salty, MSG-laden sauces, and for this it deserves its fame among health-conscious, foreign residents. However, visiting vegans often find it on Happycow (usually while visiting the nearby Dictator Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall) and turn up expecting more than a sandwich (no matter how good the handmade sauces are). If you're in Taiwan for a short time please with limited meals to enjoy please try Taiwanese food (like the Guangfu Loving Hut), but if you want a taste of home then here's the place to come for the best Quinoa bowl in Taiwan.

Ooh Cha Cha also serves vegan beer. 

Price range: NT150 - 500
If it's closed (or you can't get a seat): take the MRT a few stops south to Wanlong Station and get a burger at About Animals.

About Animals (動物誌, $$, Burger Bar)

Mon - Thu: 14:00 - 22:30, Fri - Sun: 11:00 - 22:30
Wanlong Station, Exit 2
Turn left at the top of the escalator and walk past the Japanese shop and 7-Eleven. Then walk to the opposite side of the road island (towards about two o'clock), continue to the left, then take the first hard right. About Animals will be on your right just around the corner.
9 Jinglong Street
Directions
(02) 2935-3633 

This is about as healthy as About Animals gets (Salad Burger).
 
This unique burger bar is undoubtedly Taipei's most famous hangout for animal rights activists, and also serves as a support base for gay rights (Taiwan is almost certain to become the first country in Asia to achieve marriage equality, probably within the next few years). Besides their original burger creations (I recommend the sesame-tofu) it also serves excellent fries and other greasy comfort foods. If you're looking for a vegan pub this is your answer. It allows smoking outside, and while it's totally smokefree inside, the odd person complains about having to walk through the smoke-filled courtyard to reach it, especially if travelling with children. Smoke aside, many visitors and readers of my book report that About Animals was their favourite restaurant in Taiwan.

Price range: NT200 - 500
If it's closed: the (rather strange) iVegan restaurant is nearby, but I would get some snacks at iVegan if you are hungry, and then take the MRT back a few stops to Ooh Cha Cha.

Guangfu Loving Hut ($$, Hotpot)

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall Station, Exit 2Continue south as you exit the MRT. Cross the roundabout (circle). Take the second right (Lane 280, Guangfu South Road) and it's a few buildings down on the right.
Directions from your location
11:30 – 14:30, 16:30 - 21:30 (last order 21:00)
台北市大安區光復南路280巷30號
Guangfu South Road, Lane 280, Number 30
(02) 2777-2711 (Call to reserve a table during weekends.)
Facebook, Happycow, Vegan Taiwan




Hotpots are a popular North-East Asian cuisine in which the diner is served a plate of raw vegetables and tofu (and traditionally meat - fake meat here of course) and cooks them at their table. Most broths traditionally, of course, contain animal products, but the Guangfu Loving Hut makes its own vegan versions, and some new creations of its own. It's a good place to try Ma La (spicy) sauce, a popular flavour from SiChuan in China, and also some more Western-inspired broths. 
This Loving Hut is very different from most other Loving Huts, most of which serve simple "comfort food" aimed at non-vegan Taiwanese. This branch also serves a few staple fusion dishes (I recommend the Tom Yam Tahini Rice) and some rich desserts. This is the most authentic restaurant among Taipei's high-end vegan restaurants.

Price range: NT200 - NT600

If you can't get a table: the original branch of Veggie Creek (and the only branch not inside a shopping mall) is a short walk away, but you might not get a seat there either.  Consider walking to the Veggie Ocean Loving Hut.

Tofunia ($$, Fusion)


Data Goes Here!

Taipei's only vegan Quesadilla
 
One of the newest fusion restaurants on the Taipei vegan scene, this charming, two-story establishment, run by a European chef, serves authentic Western favourites at surprisingly low prices, especially for this expensive area of Taipei (near Xinyi Anhe Station). If you're looking to enjoy a delicious, healthy meal out on a low budget - or even if you're not on a tight budget - then this restaurant is a top choice. Their desserts are also amazing - try the ice cream if it's on the menu.

Price range: NT200 - 500
If it's closed: Most of Taipei's best restaurants are within walking distance or a short MRT ride, but I would recommend the nearby Veggie Ocean Loving Hut the most.

Plants Eatery ($$$, Raw)


Data Goes Here!



Taipei's only raw vegan restaurant, Plants is most famous for its desserts, but also serves sprouted grain-based dishes, hummus and other raw favourites found the world over. Raw food requires quality ingredients and is time-intensive to prepare, so it's never going to be cheap, but the price to quality ratio is much higher than the same restaurant would offer in London, New York or Melbourne. If you're really hungry then consider a hearty organic meal at the Veggie Ocean Loving Hut ($) first.

Price range: NT200 (snack) - NT800 (meal + drink + dessert)

SoulR Vegan Cuisine ($$$, Fusion)



Data Goes Here!

Thai Pasta

SoulR offers Taipei's finest vegan dining experience, serving exquisitely presented Taiwanese fusion cuisine on to a small number of tables in a comfortable (if somewhat dark), exclusive restaurant atmosphere. Specialties are pasta (with some unique flavours, including Thai and Mexican sauces), but they are most famous for their rich desserts (visit in the afternoon for their waffles).

Personally I value originality of food over dining atmosphere, so if I'm going to spend several hundred NT on a meal I look for the more original fare found at the likes of Flourish or Mianto, but SoulR is undoubtedly one of Taipei's most popular vegan establishments, among residents (both Taiwanese and foreign) and among visitors to Taipei, and (like About Animals) many readers of my book report that it was their favourite in Taiwan.

Price range: NT400 - NT1200+ (steak dinner set).
If it's closed: Flourish and Fruitful Food are in similar price brackets, or if all else fails Veggie Creek Dunan Store is always open.

Mianto ($$$, Fusion, Boutique)



Data Goes Here!

Macaroni Cheese

Mianto is Taipei's boutique vegan restaurant. It serves a delicious range of healthy, authentic, vegan cuisine, and Michelle (the owner / chef) is a great host. Diners mostly eat at one large table, but there are also a few small corner tables (for two) overlooking a small park. The warm and pleasant interoir also shares its space with a design company. Michelle also makes some incredible baked desserts.

Food prepared individually, or for such small numbers, is inevitably more expensive than its equivalent at a large, busy restaurant, so expect to spend up to NT1000, but if you're looking for a more personal dining experience then Mianto is the place to come.

Price range: NT300 - 1000+

If it's closed: there's not much else around here; take the Tamsui (red line) to Xinyi Anhe Station for Tofunia ($$, fusion) or the Veggie Ocean Loving Hut ($, traditional Taiwanese), or further for the Tian Zhuan Zhai Loving Hut (Korean, Japanese).


Tian Zhuan Zhai Loving Hut ($$, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese) 


11:30 - 14:00, 17:00 – 20:30
 247 Songde Road
信義區松德路247號 500 metres East of Xiangshan Station, Exit 3
Directions
From Exit 3 continue walking East along the left hand side of Xinyi Road, Section 5, around a gentle turn to the left. The first major intersection is Songde Road (松德路). Cross the road, then turn left and the Loving Hut is a few doors down. Or see the Eastern Taipei Map.  
     


This Loving Hut lies somewhere in between the fine-dining Guangfu branch (see above) and the traditional, inexpensive Veggie Ocean Loving Hut (below). This branch, which is run by a multilingual Korean lady and her family, serves Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese favourites, and is often overlooked because it's a little further out than other restaurants but only a few minutes walk from Xiangshan Station (the last stop on the red line, one station after Taipei 101). I recommend this to anyone wanting to try Japanese or Korean food or a good, inexpensive meal out.

Price range: NT200 - 500

If it's closed: take the red Tamsui line back to any restaurant in Eastern Taipei. Consider a stop to pick up a bite to eat at Vegan Heaven on the way (writeup coming soon). 

Veggie Ocean Loving Hut ($, Taiwanese, Buffet)


Xinyi Anhe Station, Exit 1
See Xinyi Anhe Map and directions above.
It's also walkable from Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall Station.
Mon – Sat: 11:30 - 14:00, 17:00 - 20:00
Closed on Sundays and the second Saturday of every month.
(02) 2702-9089 (call first to check it’s open)
台北市大安區仁愛路四段300192
Number 2, Alley 19, Lane 300, Section 4, Ren Ai Rd, Da’an District.

Not just a buffet: The Veggie Ocean Loving Hut also serves good value a la carte, like this traditional noodle dish (NT100).


Buffet restaurants have been part of Taiwanese cuisine for decades, and are enormously popular for their efficiency, both in terms of preparation (thus cost) and time spent for a quick lunch. Most are very different to all-you-can-eat buffets from the West (which are more like Fruitful Food - see below) as diners help themselves to food and pay by weight, and then clear their plates away afterwards (usually to rubbish bins out on the street). Most are, unfortunately, not vegan friendly at all, with no way to know whether the fake meats, mayonnaise sauces are vegan or not (but they usually aren't). The Veggie Ocean Loving Hut offers both a chance to experience this traditional dining experience (a daily event for millions of Taiwanese) but all vegan and mostly organic, yet it's still the the least expensive restaurant in this upmarket area of Taipei (and the least expensive on this summary).

About five to ten years ago about a dozen Loving Huts exploded onto the Taipei scene, serving vegan versions of traditional Taiwanese favourites. Most have since closed or morphed into new restaurants serving healthier food, such as SoulR, however they played a vital role in Taipei's vegan scene, as they introduced the new concept of veganism and vegan food, paving the way for the more creative vegan restaurants which we now enjoy today. The Veggie Ocean Loving Hut is one of the few to remain from this era in Taipei's short vegan history.

Price range: NT100 - 300

If it's closed: there's plenty around here; my favourite is Tofunia.


Veggie Creek ($$, Taiwanese)






This popular chain applies a traditional Taiwanese concept found in street food and at expensive buffets (such as Fruitful Food - see below) to a vegan store. Diners choose their own fresh vegetables, tofu and fake meats from a rack, and then the talented chef whips boils them in a traditional broth and then whips them up into a one-pot wonder in minutes. The original store, which offers the best dining experience, was started by two young (non-vegan) men after they returned to Taiwan from working holidays in Australia, and they have since opened two new stores, one in the Dunan branch of the Eslite Bookstore (famous for being open 24 hours, but the foodcourt closes around 21:00) and the Song Gao branch in the Breeze Shopping Centre, close to Taipei 101.While Veggie Creek has lost its edge since the opening of so many other vegan restaurants in eastern Taipei, it's still a unique dining opportunity and an inexpensive meal - something which makes it enormously popular with residents and visitors.

Typical meal (charged by item): NT200-300
If it's closed: The branches in the shopping malls won't be.

 Fruitful Food ($$$, Buffet, Vegetarian)

Zhongxiao Dunhua Station, Exit 3
Directions
Walk out and around to the right, and take the elevator straight from the street to the 12th floor. Weekdays (preferable): Lunch: 11:30 - 15:00 (NT600), Dinner: 17:30 - 21:30 (NT700) Weekends, Holidays (must reserve ahead): Lunch: 11:30 - 14:00 (NT600), Afternoon Tea (limited menu): 14:20 - 16:20 (NT500), Dinner: 17:30 - 21:30 (NT700).
台北市忠孝東路四段200號12F(明曜百貨)
12th Floor, Mingyue Department Store, Number 200, Zhongxiao East Road.
(02) 277-18832
Vegan Taiwan, Website, Happycow  








While most buffets in Taiwan are inexpensive, pay-by-weight affairs, Buddhists have for years run elaborate, all-you-can-eat buffets, offering diners dozens of dishes to choose from for NT500 to NT1000 per person. Most, unfortunately, serve a lot of dairy products and fake meats (which most Taiwanese expect when they pay a lot for a meal) and as service is minimum at most there's no way to tell what's vegan, making the whole process very frustrating for vegan diners. Fruitful Food, however, have a clear labelling system and a large array of vegan options, including (usually) Japanese and Western food, cakes and sorbet. I still, however, recommend avoiding all fake meat products, as at any non-vegan restaurant. As a popular spot for wedding feasts and other large gatherings, it's often booked out days if not weeks in advance, but it's usually possible to turn up on a weekday lunch without a reservation, which is what I recommend.

Price range:  NT600 (afternoon tea, with a limited buffet) - NT800 (dinner).

If you can't get a seat: Flourish or the fail-safe Veggie Creek Dunan Store (inside the Eslite Bookstore, so virtually always open).

Friday, 30 December 2016

Taipei Most Vegan City in Asia

Peta has come out with its "Most Vegan-Friendly Cities in Asia list, and Taipei is at the top." When I first arrived in Taiwan ten years ago there were NO vegan restaurants (and not many good vegetarian restaurants either), and it's been immensely rewarding to see so many new restaurants arrive on the scene, and transform Taipei from somewhere that a good meal started in the kitchen to one in which vegans are spoiled for choice, especially given how affordable food is here.

Taipei's place at the top features in today's Taipei Times (Jan 14th).

Ooh Cha Cha deservedly gets the first mention. 

Finding great vegan food in Taipei (and most other Taiwanese cities) is certainly easy, both for residents and visitors alike, and it's wonderful to have so much choice: from Taipei Main Station it's a short walk or subway ride to reach Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese or Western foods, from restaurants spanning the continuim from from botique, fine-dining establishments (so much less expensive than restaurants in other veg capitals) to night markets, and everything in between. Taipei is a vegan foodie heaven.

While this list was for cities, it's also worth mentioning that with such universal respect for vegetarianism (and increasingly for veganism, as the vegan population continues to grow exponentially) Taiwan is arguably the most vegan-friendly country in Asia, if not in the world. Even convenience stores sell vegan items, and it's easy to find them thanks to the world's most comprehensive vegetarian food labelling system. 

Vegan quesadilla from Tofunia, one of Taipei's newest and best vegan establishments.  

However, I have a confession to make: I disagree with Peta's findings. Taiwan is the vegan heart of Asia, but when it comes to cities, Kyoto takes the macrobiotic cake and the shojin ryori (Buddhist Japanese vegan cuisine) as the vegan capital of Asia. Being vegan in Japan is incredibly difficult, with virtually no understanding of even vegetarianism among the population, and few vegan restaurants outside the main centres or even snack foods at convenience stores. I suspect that it didn't even occur to the researchers to consider Japan for this list, and it's not hard to see why. However I've noticed a trend over the years: with a few notable exceptions, particularly the Tokyo Loving Hut and Ain Soph, most new vegan restaurants I have seen arrive on the scene in Japan have either closed their doors or moved to Kyoto, where the never-ending stream of tourists keeps them in business.  While this is unfortunate for the rest of Japan, and I really wish some woulde move to other cities, this makes Kyoto, in my opinion, the most vegan-friendly restaurant in Asia. I have a list of some of the restaurants there on my Vegan Restaurants in Kyoto page. 

Vegan Heaven, Kyoto

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Vegan Travel Guides to Taiwan

While I continue to use this blog to offer free information about vegan food in Taiwan, I have taken the step of selling travel guides especially for vegans. While I like giving information away free, these books are the result of several months off work, including many weeks 'on the road' doing research, so it's necessary to charge a small amount. If this project is successful I hope to go on to write more Vegan Travel Guides for Japan and other popular destinations. If you are looking for information on vegan food, labelling, language and other basic survival information, it's all here on this blog, and of course Happycow (see below). If you would like a guidebook which also covers where to go in Taiwan, when, how to get around and stay safe, and to better understand the culture and history of this beautiful country, all written from a vegan perspective, then I invite you to consider a Vegan Travel Guide to Taiwan.

Latest Updates

Both books have been updated on February 11th, 2017. 

In February, 2017, I have made two important updates. The most significant is that the directions to Taoyuan Airport (which serves Taipei) have changed due to the demolition of the bus station and the delay in opening the new MRT (subway) to the airport. Please email me for an update (jesse.duffield@gmail.com) if you have bought the book before February 11th.

Also, Bio @ Peace Cafe (recommended as part of the Southern Taipei itinerary) has permanently closed, so I recommend making this whole itinerary in half a day now. 


Taipei in Four Days ($4.99USD),   Taiwan - A Travel Guide for Vegans ($7.99USD)


Why Vegan Travel Guides? 

Vegan Travel Guides are written with the philosophy that vegans shouldn't need to put up with guidebooks which recommend zoos, steakhouses and dolphinariums. Making the most of a trip to a new country, visiting all the best (cruelty-free) attractions and eating at the top vegan restaurants, all in a limited time, requires a guidebook written by a vegan who is familiar with the country, has visited the city's attractions, eaten at its restaurants and spent months carefully researching and documenting the most efficient itineraries for vegan (or vegetarian) travellers. These itineraries are compiled into affordable, regularly-updated, user-friendly electronic guidebooks. It's no longer necessary to choose between a hungry Lonely Planet walking tour or the best vegan restaurants from Happycow, nor is it necessary to spend hours trying to marry them up, at least for Taiwan. As far as I am aware these are the world's first travel guides written especially for vegans (as opposed to directories of vegan-friendly businesses designed to supplement conventional travel guides).

All vegan restaurants and the best vegetarian restaurants in Taipei are reviewed, with photographs, cuisine styles, price ranges, hours etc, along with sights and activities they are best visited with. Of course this guidebook doesn't recommend any cruel forms of entertainment.

Quick Links

If you purchased your guide a while before coming to Taiwan, to download maps or to leave feedback please check the  maps, updates, feedback page. I would also appreciate it of readers who find this page could take this quick survey
A more-complete set of photos can be found on the Vegan Travel Guides Facebook page.

Planning at a Glance



 

Overviews are provided for all outings and their restaurants, so the reader can plan their trip at a glance based on the days of the week and weather forecasts, and choose which restaurants to eat at based on price, cuisine and convenience. This ensures that the visitor will reach both sights and restaurants at suitable times, when they are open, in the right weather conditions, and without encountering unbearable crowds.


Buy or Download Free Sample


  What's in the Two Books?

Taiwan - A Travel Guide for Vegans covers the best and most popular sights and attractions in the northern third or so of the island (which is the focus of travel for the majority of visitors), and is intended as a complete guidebook for first-time visitors who will be here for up to around ten days. Taipei in Four Days includes the same three Taipei itineraries as the first book (itineraries include attractions and restaurants together, ordered by easy access on public transport) and most of the content is the same, but somewhat condensed. Both books include the quaint old Japanese mining towns of Jiufen and Jinguashi, and the full guide continues these on to the hotspring town of Jiaoxi, and then the famous Taroko Gorge. If you will be here for up to four days, I recommend the four-day guide. If you will be here for longer than four days I recommend the larger guide. There is no need (or advantage) in using both. While I hope to cover more of Taiwan in the future, if you will be here for longer than ten days I recommend travelling around the whole island and perhaps visiting some outlying islands, for which an alternative guidebook or online resources will be required.


For a "photo tour" please see this Facebook Post.

Quick Comparison

Overview Taipei in Four Days Taiwan - A Travel Guide for Vegans
Trip length (days) 1-5 4-10
Length (Kindle pages, designed to represent equivalent in a 'real' book) 245 400
Cost (USD)* $4.99 $7.99
View, buy or download free sample on Amazon.com Link Link

*Unfortunately Amazon.com adds additional charge (usually $2 USD) to users of Amazon.com outside the US, including unfortunately Taiwan. This is above and beyond their usual commissions and is kept by Amazon.com to recover extra costs and taxes involved in selling the book overseas, and is totally beyond my control.

Central & Southern Taipei

Taiwan (complete guide)
✔Four-day Guide
Due to their proximity to Taipei Main Station, these sights can be visited together or visited before any of the other three Taipei outings.
Sights
Restaurants

2-28 Massacre Memorial


Rice Revolution meal


Ooh Cha Cha rice meal
 2-28 Peace Park, 2-28 Peace Memorial Museum, National Taiwan Museum, Daan Forest Park, Ximen Ding, Longshan Temple, Presidential Palace, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall / Liberty Square, Botanical Gardens.
Rice Revolution, Minder Vegetarian, Ooh Cha Cha, Joy Bar, Mianto, Nakedfood

Eastern Taipei

Taiwan (complete guide)
✔Four-day Guide

Sights
Restaurants

View from Elephant Mountain

Fruiful Food
Tian Zhuan Zhai Loving Hut
Taipei 101, Elephant Mountain, Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, Maokong Gondola, Raohe Street Night Market
Loving Hut (hotpots, Taiwanese, Korean, buffet, stinky tofu), Vege Creek, Minder Vegetarian, Fruitful Food, SoulR, Fresh Bakery

Northern Taipei

Taiwan (complete guide)
✔Four-day Guide

Sights
Restaurants

Tamsui Waterfront

Lotus Vegetarian
Yummy Vegan House
National Palace Museum, Baoan Temple, Confucius Temple, Taipei Expo Park, Taipei Story House, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Guandu Temple, Guandu Nature Park, Neitou, Tamsui, Bali
Yummy Vegan House, Tamsui Waterfront Mushroom vendor, Easyhouse Vegetarian, Kooks, Joufan Taro Balls

Southern Taipei

Taiwan (complete guide)
✔Four-day Guide

Sights
Restaurants

Bitan (Xindian River)


About Animals
 @Peace Cafe
National Taiwan University, iVegan (supermarket), Bitan (lake), Cycle path, Wulai (hotsprings)

About Animals, Green Pool Loving Hut, @Peace Cafe

Northeast Taiwan

Towns
Restaurants


Gold Ecological Park, Jinguashi

Vegan Heaven, Jiaoxi





Jingtong

Towns Taiwan Guide Four-day Guide
Jiufen, Jinguashi
Houtong, Pingxi Railway (Shifen, Pingxi, Jingtong), Jiaoxi (including food shown opposite)
Jingtong, Houtong Mine restaurant, Vegan Heaven


Hualien and Taroko Gorge

Taiwan (complete guide)
Four-day Guide

This includes the only vegan B&B on the Taiwanese mainland (there's also another B&B on Penghu, not covered in this edition) and all necessary information to safely explore and stay in Taroko Gorge. 

Sights
Restaurants

Swallow Grotto

Chang Chun Buffet
Take-out for Taroko Gorge
Hualien: Ching Hsou (Japanese) Temple, Gang Tian Temple
Taroko Gorge: Eternal Springs Shrine & Trail, Shakadang Trail, Swallow Grotto, Lushui Trail, Tianxiang (sights and accommodation), Baiyang Waterfall trail
Hualien Loving Hut,  Zhu Pai Vegetarian (buffet), Chang Chun Vegetarian (buffet)


Lion Head Mountain


✔Taiwan (complete guide)


Four-day Guide
Changhua Tang Temple, Lion Head Mountain

This centuries-old Buddhist retreat is a little off the path of these itineraries, but is easily reached with public transport and makes a good final destination before flying out. It covers transport, accommodation at the temple hotel and food options en route from Taipei.

Practical Travel Information

✔Taiwan (complete guide)

Four-day Guide

 

  • Preparation, packing and timing.
  • History, politics and religion (from a vegan perspective). This chapter is freely available as a sample on my blog here.
  •  Safety, costs, airports, getting around Taipei, luggage storage, languages, electricity, water, wireless internet, prepaid SIM cards, postal system & addresses, accommodation guide, public toilets.

Food and Restaurants

✔Taiwan (complete guide)

Four-day Guide



Chinese symbols and language, chain restaurants (more in the complete guide, as they are less necessary in Taipei), Taiwanese speciality foods, fake meat (why it's not vegan, why everyone thinks it is and what to do about it). Most of this information is of course freely available on this blog, but it can help to have an offline version, and appropriate Chinese characters are interspersed throughout the book as necessary to make communication easier.

What's Not Covered (Yet)

Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung (including Kenting Beach) or the (very beautiful) central mountain range. If you have longer than ten days for Taiwan then I recommend purchasing a conventional guidebook and travelling around the island.

If these guidebooks are successful I intend to expand Taiwan, A Travel Guide for Vegans to include all these destinations, and hopefully other less well-known spots, such as B&Bs located on rural organic farms.

Reviews

Unlike most first-time publishers on Kindle, I didn't request any "sponsored" reviews, because I want the vegan community to judge the value of my work. I waited almost six months for my first book review, and am very grateful for this one.


My First Newspaper Review

Thank you to Han Cheung, journalist with the Taipei Times (Taiwan's best and most widely-read English-language newspaper) for this professional review: "Navigating the Vegan Heart of Asia". Mr Cheung's review is mostly positive with a few fair criticisms, mostly over the layout. He concludes that the book "gets the job done as a comprehensive tool for the visiting vegan".


Who are these Books For?

These books are recommended for first-time, English-speaking travellers to Taiwan who will be here for up to two weeks. If you will have more than this I recommend purchasing another guidebook or using online travel resources, buying a rail pass and travelling around Taiwan.

Residents?

New residents will probably find the book useful, however Taiwanese and long-term residents who speak some Chinese will not learn much new from this book.

Vegetarians?

Most of Taipei's vegan restaurants are among the most popular for vegetarians and vegans alike, especially foreigners, since they serve a more international cuisine than most traditional vegetarian restaurants and noodle stalls.  Also, a government survey in 2009 found that over half of several samples of fake meat contained real meat. This is (as far as I am aware) the only guide to deal with this problem, which of course affects vegetarians and vegans equally.

Vegetarians may find this book preferable to a conventional guidebook, most of whose recommend restaurants serve little if anything vegetarian; even the Lonely Planet doesn't recommend any of Taipei's top vegetarian restaurants and it doesn't appear that they've even consulted Happycow listings in selecting their recommendations.

This book is, however, written from a vegan perspective, so while it includes all vegan restaurants and most of the best vegetarain restaurants in Taipei, it doesn't include restaurants which aren't vegan-friendly. My suggestion to vegetarians would be to use this guidebook for your basic travel and planning and consult Happycow (Taipei, Xindian, Jiaoxi, Hualien) if you would like to find additional vegetarian restaurants which are not included in this guide.

Jains, Hindus, Jews, Muslims?

Most non-vegetarian restaurants here use lard oil, probably from cows, and even "vegetarian" restaurants usually use a lot of cheese, which virtually always contains rennet from cows (I've never heard of vegetarian cheese being used here, as most vegetarians don't worry about small amounts of non-veg ingredients. Vegans here, however, take veganism very seriously, and I would therefore recommend that all Jains and Hindus (vegetarian or those who just avoid eating cows) eat at vegan restaurants. Also, while there are a few sources of Halal meat it's very rare, and by far the easiest and safest option for Muslims and orthodox Jews.

Taiwanese

I have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and support from many Taiwanese in my writing this guide. However, as a travel guide, it's unlikely to be much use to local people who are familiar with the country's culture and infrastructure and who can read and speak Chinese. Of course anyone is welcome to purchase a copy, but it is intended for foreign visitors unfamiliar with the country and language. I would be very grateful if everyone could share this with vegan, vegetarian or health-conscious friends and family overseas who may be interested in visiting Taiwan.

Why use Guidebooks at All?

An increasing number of people don't use guidebooks, and some people consider them outdated. It's certainly possible to plan a trip to Taiwan using Tripadvisor, Happycow (Taipei, Taiwan) and perhaps my own commercial Formosa Guide website, and learn how to find vegan food using this blog.

However, I believe that the time saved by having one concise, offline guidebook makes it worthwhile for most travellers, especially when it's specifically written for vegans. Even the most skilled and diligent planner is unlikely to take into account as many considerations as someone who lives in the country and spends months undertaking careful research, visiting all the top restaurants and destinations. Secondly, most people spend a lot of money on an overseas trip and want to make the most of it, so the time saved (both planning and on the trip itself) should easily justify a few dollars for a guidebook. For many visitors the cost of the guidebook will probably be offset by cheaper and more efficient travel options explained in the guidebook, or by being able to plan to eat at inexpensive restaurants more easily. A simple price key used for all restaurants (including in the overviews) makes this process especially easy.

Planning around opening hours, busy weekends and the weather is stress-free with Vegan Travel Guides.

It works Offline

Taiwanese are very tech-savvy, and Taipei was the first city in the world to introduce city-wide free WiFi. I explain how to use it and how to buy a prepaid data-enabled SIM card in the book, but I still think there's value in having everything offline, in one place. I list names and addresses in Chinese (and English) of all destinations in this guide, so it's easy to stop and ask someone the way or show a taxi where you want to go without having to stop and connect to free wifi or try to Google something in another language. You can even read the book and plan your trip on the plane (check the weather forecast first).

Buy or Download Free Sample: Full Guide / Four Day Edition

Example

Just yesterday I was enjoying a take-out from Veggie Creek with friends in a park when a lost and exasperated Dutch traveller turned up trying to find Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. He'd taken the wrong exit from the MRT (subway) station and gotten lost, and his free map wasn't helping him much. I was able to quickly open up this guidebook (which I'd just been proof-reading), find which exit he should have taken and then walk him back to the station. He was particularly stressed because he'd bought his ticket to the airport for that afternoon from Taipei Main Station, so had limited time to get through his bucket list. Had he read a guidebook he would instead have used the nearby bus station at Taipei City Hall, saving a rushed trip back across town and peak time traffic jams as his bus tries to get out of central Taipei. And the money he would have saved for just that unnecessary short trip on the MRT would have paid for half of this guidebook, and of course have freed up much of his afternoon. And were he vegan he could have enjoyed one of the half-dozen vegan restaurants around the area for dinner.

Maps

This map: Eastern Taipei

Maps are made using Google Maps Engine, are reproduced in their original form (in accordance with Google's Terms and Conditions). They are all available (free) here. On larger devices maps are perfectly usable as they are, however they also link directly to Google Maps, which open either in a browser (preferable) or Google Maps, depending on your device's settings. These work better on smaller devices (smartphones) and have the advantage of showing the user's location.

An offline map of all locations is also available, but most be set up first (see instructions on the same page). Taiwan's complicated but highly efficient address system is also explained, but for the short-term visitor it's often easiest to just get as close as possible on public transport, show the address in Chinese (always provided in this guidebook) to a passer-by and ask for directions. Taiwanese are exceptionally friendly and helpful to foreigners, and in Taipei an English-speaker will always appear almost immediately and be keen to help.


Buy or Download Free Sample: Full Guide / Four Day Edition

Why Kindle (E-books)?

I understand that some people prefer traditional (printed) guidebooks, and that Amazon's Kindle is not the only platform for distributing electronic books. First, I endeavour to keep my guidebook updated, and this is obviously much more practical with electronic versions. For example in the last fortnight Sophie's Garden, previously Taipei's top vegan restaurant, has closed, and Wulai (a hotspring resort town) has been virtually destroyed by a typhoon. I also regularly edit my books in response to suggestions by friends and readers. Also, most people buy a guidebook before leaving home, and printing and sending books internationally would by prohibitively expensive for many travellers.

These images are composite images (because photographing a back-lit screen is very difficult) but they look identical to how it actually looks on this device.

Formatting a book for any electronic distribution system requires many hours (or days) of work, and Amazon's Kindle platform is by far the most popular. It also works very well on virtually all electronic devices, and books are automatically reformatted for all sized screens. The font size can easily be adjusted to suit the reader (small fonts are shown here as examples). The Kindle app can be downloaded (free) for Android and iOS, and once paid for books can be downloaded instantly and read on several different devices simultaneously. I strongly recommend installing the Kindle App and downloading the book on both a tablet and a smartphone. Read the book on the plane on your tablet (Samsung Galaxy Tab, iPad etc) but have it ready on your smartphone to quickly check which station to get off at, or to pass to a taxi driver to show an address in Chinese. On phones it's best to click the map captions to open them in Google Maps so that you can use the zoom function. 

Why Not Use the Lonely Planet?

Perhaps my greatest difficulty with this project is convincing people that my guidebook, written by 'some stranger on the internet with a blog', will be more useful than their trusted Lonely Planet. But Lonely Planet staff don't care about vegans (or vegetarians) at all: their guide to Taiwan barely recommends any of Taipei's best vegan or even vegetarian restaurants. I doubt they even consulted Happycow listings in making their selections, let alone tried any themselves.

Vegans who eat fish should be fine with the Lonely Planet. But vegans who expect their guidebook authors to have the slightest idea what they actually do and don't eat might want to consider something else. (And no, most organic shops in Japan don't offer anything vegan either.) Photo: Lonely Planet, Japan
 
Worse still, the Lonely Planet is dangerously misleading: for years many foreigners in Taiwan (including myself) believed that the ubiquitous fake meat is vegan, because the Lonely Planet authors say so, when in fact it usually contains dairy products, egg and often real meat. Even instructions on how to find vegetarian restaurants are wrong: the Lonely Planet instructs its loyal readers to look for the 'reverse savastika', whereas in reality only a small proportion of restaurants use it. But virtually all vegetarian restaurants use these common vegetarian symbols. Thousands of visitors must have missed tens of thousands of restaurants because of this. If they could have been bothered it would have taken the authors five minutes to  learn these correct symbols from any Taiwanese vegetarian.

Both these vegetarian restaurants use the common vegetarian symbols, which are used by most vegetarian restaurants in Taiwan (this and their newer equivalents are all explained in the book). Only the restaurant on the rights uses the 'reverse swastika', which is used by about ten per cent of vegetarian restaurants and is recommended by the Lonely Planet as the best way to find a vegetarian restaurant.

In this book (and here on my blog) I summarise how to find restaurants and the world's best vegetarian labelling system. On the first page is a quick reference guide, including all these symbols and instructions in Chinese to order vegan food at restaurants or to ask for help to find it at convenience stores. However, this book lists all trustworthy vegan restaurants in Taipei (and a few of the best and most vegan-friendly vegetarian restaurants) along with sights and activities they are best visited with, so with these carefully-planned itineraries it shouldn't be necessary to eat at any non-vegetarian restaurants at all.

Secondly, anyone who trusts the Lonely Planet should read Do Travel Writers Go to Hell, in which former LP author and whistleblower Thomas Kohnstamm explains that staff aren't paid enough to even cover their basic travel expenses, let alone earn a living, and that they instead earn their money from bribes and "freebies" (usually accommodation, food, alcohol and sometimes other "services") in exchange for recommending hotels and restaurants. This could explain why they are so bad for vegetarians and vegans: authors are unlikely to be vegetarian, so vegetarian restaurants are unable to 'earn' their listings by offering the writers free meals, and most restaurants are probably too small to be able to bribe them by other means.

My books contain no advertisements in any form. I always pay for meals in full, and never accept or would accept any form of incentives for listings or recommendations in this guidebook or on any of my blogs or websites.

Buy or Download Free Sample: Full Guide / Four Day Edition
 

Culture, History, Politics and Religion

Personally when I travel I like to know a little about the culture and history of where I'm travelling, especially any connections to vegetarianism. In this guidebook I summarise the history of Taiwan (in a more condensed version than the previous book) and Taiwan's complicated political situation, to help the reader understand (for example) why it's offensive to refer to Taiwanese as "Chinese" despite the fact that their passport says "Republic of China" and the airline you may well arrive on is called "China Airlines".

An I Kuan Tao altar in a family home. While it's little known outside of Taiwan, owners of most Chinese vegetarian restaurants around the world are run by devout followers of Taiwan's third largest religion.

I also describe the main religious groups in Taiwan, three of which promote vegetarianism. The original form of this article is (free) here. In the Lonely Planet I Kuan Tao, the third largest religion in the country, whose members own at least half of the country's vegetarian restaurants, is dismissed as a "cult" in one sentence. Supreme Master Ching Hai, whose followers run virtually all of Taiwan's vegan restaurants, does not even get a mention. Of course if you're not interested in any of this being an electronic book it's easy to skip this chapter, and it doesn't add any extra 'weight'.

How About Happycow?

Use Happycow! I'm the "Happycow Ambassador" (volunteer contact person) for Taipei, and have added or updated all the restaurants I've come across in my many months of writing these guidebooks. If you just want to know about restaurants then this book is not for you, and I recommend Happycow (TaipeiTaiwan) perhaps along with this blog.

But if you are travelling to Taipei, especially for the first time, then this guidebook should replace your conventional guidebook (eg Lonely Planet). And it integrates with Happycow, fitting restaurants and attractions into the same outings and displaying them on all on the same maps (which link to Google Maps - see above). This book covers where to go in Taipei, when, how to get around, language (of course vegan-specific), accommodation, safety and everything else traditionally covered by travel guidebooks.

Both books review all of Taipei's vegan restaurants (and the best vegetarian restaurants), along with cuisine style, price range, a photo, a brief description and review, opening hours, websites and addresses (in Chinese and English, and public transport directions). And their Happycow reviews are just a click away.

Buy or Download Free Sample: Full Guide / Four Day Edition

Authenticity

I have personally visited all destinations and eaten at all restaurants recommended in this guide (except one, as stated in the guide). I never identify myself as a guidebook writer, and only occasionally introduce myself as a blogger when I need to ask for more information than a regular customer would. This guidebook contains no advertisements in any form. I always pay for my meals in full and have never and would never take any form of incentives for listings or recommendations, here or on any of my blogs. All photographs are my own.

Have a Great Trip to Taiwan!

Taiwan is Asia's most underrated travel destination. Having been ruled by several countries over the centuries it has a wide variety of cultural and historic sights and attractions. Taipei has a modern, reliable, inexpensive public transport system, and Taiwanese are exceptionally warm and friendly towards foreign visitors. Most people in Taipei speak English and are happy to help foreigners, and most signs are bilingual. Taiwan is also very safe, with violent very rare, especially towards foreigners. Taiwan has an infrastructure comparable to Japan prices comparable to Thailand.


Taiwan is also the vegan heart of Asia, with over a dozen vegan restaurants in Taipei having opened in the last few years, and in built-up areas there's usually a vegetarian restaurant within walking distance. Even the ubiquitous 7-Eleven convenience stores sell frozen vegan meals, which they can microwave on the spot. Taipei is one of very few destinations in the world where it's possible to set up for a day's sightseeing without having to even think about where you'll eat, and with this guide there will always be plenty to choose from. I wish you a safe and enjoyable trip to the country that has become my second home.