It is not wrong to say that Sri Lanka is nothing short of a paradise for vegans. Sri Lankan cuisine having its roots in ancient ayurveda, is mostly based on vegetables although the islanders also incorporate fish and various kinds of meat into their meals. Therefore it is safe to say that Sri Lanka is a place where you can find a wide variety of delicious and unique vegan food options all round.
So what can a vegan find in Sri Lanka?
The choice really is overwhelming. A large variety of curries, most of them cooked in coconut milk, rice
and bread dishes, fresh salads as well as a rainbow of exotic fruits – this is Sri Lanka for you. Even if you
walk into a shop you will find quite a number of vegan options – just ask the right questions. English is
widely spoken here so it shouldn’t be too difficult a task to find delicious vegan food wherever you are in
Is it expensive?
This depends on where you eat. If you eat like the locals where they eat, the food is extremely cheapWe talking approx $ 01-03 a meal. The touristy options and the upscale restaurants obviously will cost you more.
Are international options available?
If you are into international fine-dining, Sri Lanka is not the place for you. Major cities like Colombo, Galle and Kandy may have what you are looking for but the further into the island you go (which is really the point), your options will be limited. But with the dizzying range of local cuisine available, you will not be looking for international fare.
What if I don’t like spicy food?
Despite its reputation outside of Sri Lanka, not all Sri Lankan food are spicy. You also have the option of asking the eatery to use less spice to suit your palate and they are usually very accommodating.
There aren’t any “vegan” food in Sri Lanka.
If you go around asking for “vegan” food, chances are you will be greeted with blank stares. The term “vegan” isn’t a widely used term here and you will most likely be bombarded with a variety of food options that aren’t really vegan. Sri Lanka is a place that is bursting at the seams with beautiful plant-
based food that don’t involve any animal products and all you need to do is just take the time to explain exactly what you want. It would also give you the chance to interact more with the locals so get right into it!
Know what to look out for
The usual culprits are ghee, milk, milk powder, shrimp paste or dried fish. Ghee is sometimes used in frying off flat breads but as this is an expensive option, this won’t be as commonly used in local fare. Dried fish in all forms is another tricky one to avoid as even the island’s famous pol sambol sometimes
has dried fish blended in. shrimp paste is also added sometimes into salads and rice as well as vegetable curries while milk powder can sneak into vegetable dishes in lieu of coconut milk. And mind you, these will likely not be mentioned in labels or food descriptions. But fear not, be sure to ASK and you should be okay.