Vegan Bali Food Guide – Local Balinese Dishes You Can’t Miss

 Vegan Bali Food Guide - Tempeh with peanut sauce

Eating vegan in Bali is a unique experience in many ways and below we share our best tips so that you can experience the incredible vegan food in Bali yourself.

Bali is perhaps one of the easiest tropical destinations to visit for any vegan.

Not only due to the abundance of tempeh and vegan restaurants serving world class food from all corners of the world, but also because of how vegan-friendly the local cuisine is.

Let's just say you won't go hungry with access to all of this delicious vegan food in Bali.

What is Vegan Food in Bali Like?

In Indonesia, you’ll find as many versions of coconut curries and vegetable stir-fries as in any other tropical country - but that is not the most exciting part.

What makes the country's food culture stand out and what truly makes Bali's cuisine so vegan-friendly is the fact that Indonesia is the birthplace of tempeh!

Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and is a nutritional powerhouse packed full of protein and probiotics. The Balinese literally use it for everything including vegan and non-vegan dishes.

You’ll find it served as a main meal, snack, side dish or as a substitute for meat in fish curries and stir-fries. Better yet, it’s also common for the locals to use tofu in similar ways.

In addition to the classic tropical thick coconut curry - which in comparison to other countries in the region (e.g. Thailand and Cambodia) is more savory and spicy, Bali also has several unique and delicious local specialties that you shouldn’t miss.

So, without further ado, let's get started with our vegan Bali food guide!

Gado-Gado

Vegan Food in Bali - plate of Balinese food

Few vegan dishes in Bali are as legendary, and tasty, as gado-gado and there is a good reason why it’s at the top of our list.

Note that gado-gado is a dish that’s perfect in its simplicity.

Although simple, this plate of blanched vegetables served with tofu, tempeh, and rice cooked in banana leaves with a side of peanut sauce can be adjusted and adapted following the seasons, making it a dish you never get sick of.

Sometimes it’s all mixed together, but we personally prefer it served separate and with extra peanut sauce.

Since gado-gado is served at pretty much every local restaurant in Bali, it’s a safe and easy go-to for vegan travelers in the region.

Nasi Goreng

Bali Vegan Nasi Goreng

Like pasta in Italy, curries in India, and momos in Nepal, nasi goreng is what fuels the local population in both Indonesia and Malaysia.

In fact, in the Balinese kitchen, nasi goreng is a staple, and the dish is considered to be the national dish of Indonesia.

The name translates to fried rice and that is exactly what it is. Typically, nasi goreng is cooked with pieces of chicken and served with a fried egg on top. However, you can ask the restaurant to swap the chicken for tempeh or tofu and hold off on the egg.

Indonesian fried rice is a must-try for everyone coming to Bali, and we personally enjoy it much more than Thai fried rice.

Nasi goreng is sometimes served with a side of rice or nutcrackers but don't forget to ask if the crackers are vegan since they can be fish or shrimp-based.

Mie Goreng

Plate of Mie Goreng

Mie goreng is the Indonesian version of fried noodles, and in our opinion, it’s the best type of fried noodles served anywhere in Asia.

Let’s be honest, who can say no to a plate of fried noodles served with vegetables, tempeh or tofu, seasoned with traditional sambal? We sure can’t.

And for two carboholics like us, mie goreng has been a favorite since the first time we came to Bali

What’s exciting about this vegan-friendly Balinese dish is that every cook in Bali prepares mie goreng in their own way using their own set of ingredients, spices, and sambals.

At some restaurants, you can even order the fried noodles in a thick curry to spice up the eating experience even further.

Nasi Campur

Vegan Nasi Campur in Bali

The epitome of vegan food in Bali is a well-made, vegan nasi campur. It’s a combination of textures, flavors, and colors, and the portions are usually more than generous.

Similar to an Indian thali or a Nepalese dal bhat, nasi campur is a plate containing several small dishes served on a bed of white rice.

Consider it the perfect opportunity to try several Balinese dishes all at the same time.

The dishes served with nasi campur vary depending on what vegetables are available, what restaurants you eat at, what region you’re in, and who cooked it.

Also, many local restaurants in Bali serve their nasi campur in a buffet style manner where you get to pick the items you want and pay based on weight.

Warung Bu Mi in Canggu is a good place to try out a bunch of Balinese dishes, and their food is very vegan-friendly.

Tempeh Goreng

A plate of vegan tempeh goreng in Bali

Tempeh goreng is easily our favorite vegan food in Bali. Better yet, this dish is completely vegan by default.

As you may have guessed by the name, tempeh is the star of the show.

The dish is relatively simple but entirely delicious. The tempeh is sliced in several pieces before being fried to golden crispy perfection and served with a homemade peanut sauce.

Similar to most dishes on this list, tempeh goreng is served at almost every local restaurants in Bali but we only ever order it at our favorite restaurant, Bubu’s Warung in Ubud.

Bakso

Bakso is an immensely popular street food in Bali. Unfortunately, it's not very easy to find vegan versions of the dish.

You’ll see bakso being sold from street vendors everywhere throughout the island of Bali.

Traditionally, bakso is made from beef, and it has a similar texture to other Asian meatballs and is most often served in a noodle soup.

So far, the best vegan bakso we’ve tried was at Vinnys Warung in Canggu, and we highly recommend trying a veganized version of the dish there.

Sambal

Balinese sambal

This is not a dish on its own but is a condiment absolutely worth mentioning for context.

Sambal is a curry paste made from fresh chilies, garlic, shallots, lime, and vinegar, and it’s a staple in much of the vegan food in Bali.

The spice mix is traditionally used to season food and can also be served as a side dip or a condiment with other dishes.

The recipes are often passed down through generations, and it seems like every cook in Indonesia has his or her own version.

Caution: Before you dive into all these fantastic local delights you need to be aware that fish sauce is used across Indonesia. It is not used to the same extent as in the rest of Southeast Asia but it does exist which means that you should always ask for your local food to be served without it. Also, egg is sometimes considered a “vegetable” and we recommend that you ask for no egg even if it’s not mentioned on the menu.

Where To Eat Vegan Balinese Food

Vegan Food in Bali

The fact that Bali is a vegan paradise is no secret, but the availability and variation of vegan options vary greatly depending on where you are.

Ubud is easily the most vegan-friendly destination in Bali with Canggu and Seminyak trailing close behind. The selection can be a bit more scarce In Uluwatu, Sanur, Ahmed, and other places. However, we always seem to find amazing vegan Balinese food no matter where we go.

If you want to learn more about vegan food in Bali, we suggest you consider taking a vegan cooking class. There are several cooking classes in Bali and many of them cater to vegans and vegetarians if you notify them in advance when booking the class.

We took a class just outside of Ubud and absolutely loved it. The class included everything from a visit to the local market to an afternoon of cooking a range of veganized Balinese dishes in a lush organic garden overlooking the valley below.

To us, Balinese food ranks as some of the most vegan-friendly in the world, but also one of the most exciting and satisfying. Just writing this post has us dreaming of tempeh goreng, thick vegetable curries, and fresh coconuts.

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