Tropical islands are often referred to as “paradise,” and in Bali’s case, it truly is. An ideal destination for holistic retreats, connecting with nature, healthy living, and amazing surf swells, Bali’s vegan culture reflects the existing importance placed on wellness. In fact, the plant-based scene is now more prominent than ever. Check out some of the relaxing ways this Indonesian island does veganism, and then ask yourself why you haven’t visited sooner.
Raw food in Ubud
Ubud is where Bali’s vegan scene begins. Instead of bars and clubs, the nightlife in the city revolves around vegan cafés and discussing yoga poses from the day’s class. At The Seeds of Life, the raw cuisine includes Malaysian Laksa soup, an Indian platter, and American-style veggie burgers, while the on-site tonic tea bar serves 10-year-old Ginseng infusions for vitality, organic Goji berry tea for detoxification, and Reishi mushroom tea to boost libido. Alchemy—another raw gem—is a popular Ubud hang-out for the health conscious. The restaurant has a make-your-own salad bar with approximately 15 options and a menu of smoothies and elixirs. Raw desserts such as peanut butter cups, double chocolate brownies, and lemon fudge are also available.
Different than the laid-back hippie vibe that most of Ubud’s cafés exude, Sage has a menu featuring California-inspired breakfast burritos packed with tofu scramble and fresh vegetables; meatless Buffalo wings with ranch dressing; and moist chocolate cake all served amidst a modern decór with low lighting and crisp, clean colors. And if crafty vegan items such as loaded nachos with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, a tuna pita pocket, and a Reuben sandwich sound enticing, visit Down To Earth, where the dessert case includes homestyle favorites such as apple crisps and a collection of jars filled with oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, and ginger-crunch cookies. Just below the eatery is Paradiso Theater, a movie house serving Down To Earth’s menu. The seats are bamboo, and guests can watch a film while eating a raw chocolate torte or enjoying a massive falafel sandwich.
International Fare in Canggu
Canggu is a relaxed surf town where long-haired locals walk barefoot into restaurants to grab smoothies. Similar to Ubud, the vegan hotspots seem more like hang-outs for surfboard-wielding expats than fine-dining establishments. Located in the center of town is Green Ginger, a vegetarian restaurant that can veganize a majority of its dishes, which range from Thai curries and Chinese dumplings to Singapore-style Laksa soup. Vegan items are also aplenty at Betelnut Cafe—where a host of cashew butter smoothies, a strawberry-and-chocolate fudge bar, and numerous Mexican dishes ensure no vegan will starve—and Avocado Café, a vegetarian eatery with vegan selections including a coconut cream fruit bowl, chickpea curry, a lentil burger, a vegan vanilla protein shake, and a slew of detoxifying juices.
Tacos in Seminyak
Located at the southern end of Bali, Seminyak has a reputation for being a rowdy party destination. Luckily, the city also recognizes the need for healthy options, which means vegan restaurants aren’t hard to find. For starters, there’s Zula Bali, where an earthy aesthetic combines with seitan schnitzel, baked pumpkin, fruit cups, and Mexican tacos. At Divine Earth, diners encounter tempeh meatballs, vegan ice cream in passion fruit and mango flavors, and a sandwich bar featuring cashew mozzarella and zucchini bruschetta. For classic Mexican fare, head to Taco Beach Grill, where burritos, tacos, and nachos can be made vegan simply by asking. The restaurant uses fresh herb ranch dressing, traditional avocado dip, wasabi sauce, and salsas made with fresh ingredients.
Shannon Ullman is a traveler who, after spending two months eating her way around Bali, is off on more adventures finding the world’s best vegan destinations.
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