Traditionally, Indonesian food is quite meat-centric, and in the past, vegetarians had a tough time finding options even in the capital, Jakarta. Apart from the island of Bali, which now has over 200 restaurants specializing in plant-based cuisine, the rest of the country was less vegan-friendly. Thankfully, things have changed, and there are plenty of excellent restaurants that cater to vegans and vegetarians. In Indonesia, veganism is no longer a fad or a diet but is fast becoming a way of life for many.
The World Vegan Organization reports that Jakarta now has a thriving vegan scene, second only to the island of Bali. According to Karim Taslim, who heads the Indonesian wing of the World Vegan Organization, more and more people are embracing veganism, and it’s now easy to find plant-based foods at supermarkets and grocery stores.
Unlike many other parts of the globe, following a vegan diet is not an expensive proposition in Indonesia. There are plenty of small neighborhood restaurants called Warungs that serve vegan food at reasonable prices. This is because ingredients like tofu, tempeh, and fresh vegetable have always played a key role in Indonesian cuisine. So following a vegan diet is inexpensive and more accessible than ever before.
Taslim is of the opinion that social media is to blame for the misconception that vegan food is expensive. He feels that some influencers promote using pricey ingredients instead of opting for cost-effective local ones.
In fact, many traditional Indonesian dishes are vegetarian or can easily be made vegan-friendly. For instance, Gado Gado is a delicious dish that typically contains boiled potatoes, vegetables, tofu, tempeh, eggs and peanut sauce. By leaving out the eggs, you have a tasty, nutritious vegan alternative. So, with a little creativity, you can enjoy all the mouth-watering cuisine that the country has to offer.
At the moment, Jakarta has around 74 restaurants and cafes that offer plant-based cuisine. Whether you’re looking for affordable fast-food or refined fine dining, you’re sure to find options that work for you. You can also choose from different cuisines since Jakarta is a cosmopolitan city.
In terms of its vegan scene, the city still has some catching up to do when compared to Bali or Yogyakarta. The vegan-friendly restaurants do require some hunting down. Many of them are located in the Northern and Western parts of the capital where a majority of its Buddhist communities reside. Opting for Indian and Chinese cuisine is also a good option as these restaurants typically serve at least a few vegetarian dishes.
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