These awesome eateries make it much easier than you’d think to skip meat on the Island of the Gods.
There’s an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available on Bali
Beachfront babi guling? Check. All-you-can-eat Aussie barbecue joint? Check. Roadside satay? Check.
It might seem like Bali’s endless array of celebrated meat dishes are inescapable, but fear not friends of the earth, there’s also a tempting choice of vegetarian dishes available.
We’ve rounded up the best restaurants around the island for mouth-watering meat-free feasts.
Fivelements' Sakti Dining Room
Indonesia salad, gado gado, is one of the country’s most-eaten dishes – and it’s vegetarian
A firm competitor for Bali’s best meat-free menu, the fine dining restaurant at Ubud’s award-winning Fiveelements wellness retreat focuses solely on raw food. The bamboo structure housing the establishment is tucked away along the Angung River and boasts views that are as impressive as the innovative dishes on offer, all of which are made from sustainable locally-sourced ingredients.
Lunchtime and evening diners can either go a la carte or plump for the signature tasting menus that come in three-, five- and seven-course varieties. Expect to be thrilled by the intrepid arrangements and bold flavours of dishes you’ve never tried – and if you want to savour the experience back home, you can also check out Fiveelements’ onsite cooking classes.
Living Food Lab
With its sweeping paddy fields and laid-back vibe, Ubud has long been a retreat from Kuta’s bustling beaches
Not far from Sakti Dining Room, Living Food Lab is another of Ubud’s ever-growing list of excellent raw food restaurants. Far more casual than it’s fine-dining neighbour, the laid-back cafe is renowned for its enviable repertoire of vegan deserts and dedication to sourcing in-season produce from local farmers.
Although many raw takes on local foods make an appearance on the menu, it’s the vegan versions of well-known international dishes, including sushi, burgers and the delicious desserts tend to steal the show. Watch out for Living Food Lab’s second property, which is set to open in Canggu in the coming months.
Zula Vegetarian Paradise
A Middle Eastern mainstay, falafel is one of Zula’s specialties
A fresh-food escape from the cacophony of Kuta, Zula Vegetarian Paradise serves up a greatest hits of meat-free meals. Unlike the previous two eateries on the list, Zula isn’t limited to raw cuisine. From falafel to the seitan kebab, Middle Eastern cuisine play a prominent role here – ‘zula’ loosely means ‘home from home’ in Arabic – and is accompanied by an extensive menu of rice dishes, soups and veggie shakes.
If you want to refuel with a delicious dose of greens before the hitting Kuta and Seminyak’s famed beaches, there are few options as convenient and feel-good as Zula.
Although Thai ‘somtum’ is the region’s best-known papaya salad, the refreshing dish is also common in Bali
Green Ginger is as quaint and hip as the name suggests. The sister cafe of the better-known bar and restaurant, The Elephant, it has a been a popular Canggu spot for vegetarians for a few years.
The twee cafe keeps things firmly southeast Asian with noodle dishes taking centre stage. The pad Thai is a firm favourite along with the rice paper rolls and papaya salad. They also serve freshly-made bento boxes brimming with fresh greens, organic rice and tofu puffs, making it the ideal drop-in if you’re grabbing to go en route to your next temple tour.
Fresh food markets are a great place to learn more about the local culture and cuisine
Sticking in Canggu, the nearby Samadi is much more than just a veggie restaurant. Turn up on a Wednesday night and you’ll walk into an open-air cinema, while daily Ashtanga yoga classes are held next door. That’s not however to say that the food isn’t the main attraction here. Sundays and Wednesdays are probably the best to time to experience Samadi.
Not only can you enjoy a sumptuous meal in the villa garden, but you can also shop for organic produce at the bi-weekly farmers’ market. As with almost all the vegan and vegetarian outlets on the island, the owners put a huge onus on using only in-season, local ingredients and are actively involved in local social responsibly initiatives.
Keeping it local
The tamarind added to sayur asem give the soup its unique taste
An abstinence from meat shouldn’t mean you can’t enjoy the local cuisine. Although Indonesian food is renowned for its beef, chicken and fish, the vegetable dishes can be just as delicious. Here are three we highly recommend seeking out during your Bali vacation:
- If there’s one Indonesian dish most foreigners can name, it’s gado gado. The monster salad of steamed veg, hard-boiled eggs potato, tempeh and (lots of) peanut butter sauce is can be found in almost any restaurant across Indonesia
- Nasi goreng comes a close second in the popularity content with visitors to Indonesia. While the fried rice dish is primarily served with meat, it is in its purest form, rice, fried egg and carrots. Simply ask for it without meat (and egg if you’re vegan) and top up with extra veg instead
- A winner with both vegetarians and vegans, sayur asem soup tastes like a close relative of Thailand’s tom yum. The sour vegetables are served in a broth over rice with added tamarind for the kick, this homely dish is ideal for breakfast lunch and dinner.