Yes, there are many vegetarian options available in Singapore. As a multicultural society, Singapore offers a wide variety of vegetarian cuisines and restaurants to choose from.
Overview of Vegetarianism in Singapore
While vegetarianism is not as widespread in Singapore compared to other countries, the vegetarian movement has been growing steadily over the past decade. More people are opting to go meatless for ethical, environmental or health reasons. Various surveys estimate that 3-5% of the local population are vegetarians.
Most local vegetarians adopt a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, which includes eggs and dairy products. Pure vegans who avoid all animal products are less common but their numbers are increasing. The growing popularity of vegetarianism has led to greater availability of vegetarian options across Singapore.
Types of Vegetarian Cuisines Available
Chinese vegetarian cuisine has a long history in Singapore. Chinese Buddhist temples and vegetarian restaurants offer a wide array of mock meats and seafood made from ingredients like gluten, soy protein, mushrooms and vegetables. Dishes are usually prepared by steaming, braising, stewing or deep frying.
Common fake meat dishes include vegetarian chicken, duck, pork belly, sausage, fish slices and prawns. Other popular dishes are Buddha’s Delight which comprises various vegetables, andMock Chicken Rice made with mushroom “chicken” and fragrant rice.
Indian cuisine offers plenty of naturally vegetarian dishes due to cultural and religious influences. In Singapore, Indian vegetarian food is predominantly of South Indian origin, and features cuisine from regions like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
Typical dishes are thali sets comprising rice, dhal, vegetable curries, chapati breads, papadum crackers, raita yogurt dip and dessert. Other common items are dosa crepes, idli steamed cakes, upma semolina porridge, thosai pancakes and paratha flatbreads served with potato curry and chutneys.
While not as common as Chinese and Indian, Malay vegetarian dishes can also be found. These often take inspiration from Indonesian cuisine and make use of ingredients like tempeh (fermented soy beans), tauhu (tofu), lemak curry sauce and sambal chili paste.
Examples of Malay vegetarian fare include sayur lodeh which is a mixed vegetable stew in coconut milk, and nasi lemak served with cucumber, peanuts and egg instead of the usual chicken or fish. Indian-Muslim influenced dishes like mee goreng, roti prata and teh tarik are also naturally vegetarian.
Western and Fusion Vegetarian
A variety of Western vegetarian options are available at restaurants, cafes and bakeries around Singapore. Common meat-free items are pastas, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, baked goods and sides like fries and wedges. There are also exclusively vegetarian Western eateries creating plant-based burgers, tacos, baos and more.
On the fusion side, local chefs have combined ingredients and cooking techniques from different cuisines to invent novel vegetarian dishes. Some examples are prata wraps, laksa pasta, Chinese-Indian rojak, and “no-duck” noodles.
Places to Find Vegetarian Food
Across Singapore’s many hawker centres, there are always a number of stalls offering vegetarian options. Chinese stalls have economy rice and bee hoon noodles with mock meats. Indian vendors serve prata breads, thosai and varied rice sets. Some Malay and noodle stalls prepare dishes like mee soto or mee rebus with tauhu and egg instead.
Within shopping malls and office building basements, food courts gather various affordable dining choices under one roof. Among the mix of stalls, there are typically a few Chinese, Indian or Western vegetarian stalls available. Dishes served are similar to hawker fare but in an air-conditioned setting.
At HDB void deck coffeeshops around residential neighborhoods, vegetarian options can also be unearthed. Many of these coffeeshops have a resident Chinese vegetarian stall dishing up popiah, kway chap and economic rice. Prata shops also have dairy-based pratas and thosais. Noodle stalls can whip up egg versions of dishes.
Buddhist and Hindu temples in Singapore have eateries or food courts providing affordable vegetarian meals. These are open to the public but observe strict vegetarian policies in their ingredients and preparation. Temples like Thekchen Choling and Sri Senpaga Vinayagar are popular for their daily vegetarian fare.
There are a growing number of vegetarian restaurants mushrooming across Singapore to cater to the meatless dining demand. These range from casual cafes to upscale establishments serving cuisines like Chinese, Indian, Western, fusion, and innovative veggie options. Well-known places include Real Food, Greens & Greens, Mr Bean, and SaladStop.
For those who prefer to cook at home, ingredients for vegetarian cooking are available at supermarkets and grocery stores. Fresh produce like fruits, vegetables, eggs and dairy products can be purchased. There is also an excellent selection of frozen mock meats, instant vegetarian meals, vegan dairy substitutes, and canned/packaged ingredients.
Regional Vegetarian Cuisines
Besides local fare, Singapore’s cosmopolitan environment also enables vegetarians to sample meatless dishes from other regional cuisines.
Japanese cuisine has many naturally vegetarian offerings thanks to dishes centered around rice, noodles, vegetables and tofu. Common picks are vegetable sushi, udon, ramen, donburi rice bowls, oden hotpot, tempura vegetables, tofu steak and onigiri rice balls.
Korean restaurants in Singapore serve great vegetarian bibimbap mixed rice bowls topped with egg and vegetables. Other options are japchae glass noodles, vegetable pajeon pancakes, kimchi stew, tofu soup and veggie side dishes like namul.
Vietnamese dining choices include fresh and fried spring rolls, banana flower salad, tofu and mushroom pho noodle soup, bun cha noodle bowls with fried tofu chunks, and chè dessert beverages.
For Thai food, popular meatless picks are vegetable pad thai, tom yum soup with mushrooms, stir-fried veggie dishes, green papaya salad, and mango sticky rice. Many Thai restaurants also offer customised vegetarian menu options.
Finding Vegetarian Food
Singapore’s vibrant food scene means vegetarian dining options are readily available across the island. Here are some tips on sourcing meat-free meal choices:
Look Out for Signs
Dedicated vegetarian eateries will display prominent signage advertising their offerings. Phrases like “vegetarian food”, “no meat no fish” or images of vegetables help identify such stalls and restaurants.
Even at non-vegetarian joints, scrutinising the menu often reveals decent vegetarian selections. Many places label veggie items clearly or have a designated vegetarian section.
Ask the Staff
If uncertain, always ask the staff if there are any vegetarian options or whether a dish can be prepared vegetarian-style. Most are familiar with such requests and can suggest suitable items.
Specify preferences like “no meat”, “no seafood”, “egg only” or “dairy allowed” so recommendations can be tailored accordingly.
Use Apps and Blogs
Apps like Burpple and HungryGoWhere feature user reviews with info on vegetarian options around Singapore. Veggie-focused blogs also showcase dining recommendations.
Visit Ethnic Enclaves
Head to districts like Little India and Kampong Glam where diverse cuisine offerings make vegetarian hunting easier.
Tips for Dining Out
Here are some additional tips for an enjoyable dining experience as a vegetarian in Singapore:
Ask if soups and sauces are made with meat broths. Also check if egg or dairy is used for items like bread and desserts.
Request Separate Cookware
Request that food be prepared separately from meat-based dishes to prevent cross-contamination.
Learn Food Names
Know the names of common animal-derived ingredients in different languages such as fish sauce (nuoc mam), oyster sauce (hoisin) and shrimp paste (belacan).
Ask if meat products can be swapped with vegetables, mushrooms or tofu to suit dietary needs.
Bring Your Own Food
Carry a small supply of prepared snacks or protein powder in case you cannot find suitable items.
Have a Backup Plan
Identify nearby alternative eateries in case the first choice does not work out.
Vegetarian Food at Hawker Centres
Hawker centres offer a good range of vegetarian options. Here are some recommended stalls and dishes to try:
|Chomp Chomp Food Centre
|Lau Dai Vegetarian Stall
|Lor mee, carrot cake, fried bee hoon
|Tiong Bahru Food Centre
|Tiong Bahru Qi Tian Shi
|Mushroom and tofu claypot rice
|Amoy Street Food Centre
|Hong Kee Vegetarian
|Mock chicken rice, mock char siew rice
|Maxwell Food Centre
|China Street Fritters
|Vegan crepe rolls
|Golden Mile Food Centre
|South Indian thali set
Notable Vegetarian Restaurants
In addition to hawker fare, Singapore boasts many excellent full-service vegetarian restaurants. Recommended spots include:
Famous for its Chinese-style vegetarian cuisine. Offers creative dishes like “no-duck” noodles, jackfruit yong tau fu, and vegan seafood hor fun.
Greens & Greens
Casual vegetarian cafe serving wholesome sandwiches, salads, pastas and desserts. Great for a quick vegan bite.
Upscale fine-dining restaurant located at the Grand Hyatt. Specialises in artfully-plated modern vegetarian degustation menus.
Chain eatery crafting delicious plant-based burgers, nuggets and sides. Also has shakes made with non-dairy milk.
Long-established restaurant featuring refined temple cuisine. Offers set menus and a la carte Chinese vegetarian dishes.
Modest chain dotted across Singapore serving classic South Indian vegetarian meals on banana leaves.
Groceries for Home Cooking
Well-stocked supermarkets make sourcing ingredients for vegetarian home cooking convenient. Recommended places to shop include:
Extensive range of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, mock meats and vegan speciality items.
Good variety of fresh and packaged Asian vegetarian ingredients at affordable prices.
Chinese supermarket chain with mock meat, tauhu and soy-based vegetarian items.
Shops along Serangoon Road sell all sorts of South Asian vegetarian ingredients and spices.
Sprawling 24-hour department store well-stocked with Indian groceries and mock meats.
In summary, Singapore offers diverse and delectable vegetarian food options. From Chinese mock meat dishes to Indian specialities, fusion creations and international cuisines, there are ample meat-free dining choices for vegetarian visitors and residents. With vegetarianism on the rise and culinary creativity ever-flowing, the plant-based food scene here continues to expand and improve.