Taipei is pretty great for vegans, but it also offers beautiful nature, plentiful hip coffee shops, great transit, government-subsidized gyms, epically massive buffets, dim-sum…Taipei is severely underrated. I spent two weeks there in March 2019 and only explored Taipei. Now I need to go back!
Taipei first ended up on my vegan list after seeing that “biggest vegan buffet in the world!” viral video that went around years ago. Turns out that buffet is not 100% vegan. My full report on that below.
Even then, Taipei is a fantastic location for vegans, vegetarians, digital nomads and backpackers. Or vegetarian/vegan digital nomad backpackers…lol.
For vegans in Taipei, a bit of research really helps, as language and understandings of what vegan is can really vary.
- A Note on Mock Meats
- The Word “vegan” has a very loose definition
- Local Groups – Meet People in Taipei
- Where to Stay in Taipei
- Gyms & Where to Workout in Taipei
- Cafes for Digital Nomads in Taipei
- Night Markets in Taipei
- Vegan Street Food in Taipei
- Vegan Dim Sum in Taipei
- Vegan Bakeries in Taipei
- Vegan Restaurants in Taipei
- Taiwanese Vegetarian Restaurants (with vegan options)
- Vegetarian Buffets (They’re A Thing)
- What to Do in Taipei
Vegan Taipei – A Note on Mock Meats
There has been some scandal recently in Taiwan with labeled vegetarian and vegan mock meats actually being found to have real meat in them. As a non-Chinese speaking or reading person I found this very hard to navigate. Local vegans I talked to told me they pretty much avoid all mock meats.
Lots of blog posts and vegan Instagramers post stuff labeled vegan that they never really researched, so there is a lot of mis-information and people blindly following vegan bloggers’ advice without doing their own research and sharing stuff that’s not actually vegan.
I ate a lot of mock meats in the beginning. I will post them here for transparency. In reality I have no idea if they were vegan or vegetarian or not because I couldn’t read the labels. They were always at vegetarian restaurants, but apparently a lot of the owners just buy the cheapest product and are unknowingly being scammed too. So maybe I ate some accidentally not vegan stuff.
It’s up to you to decide how strict you want to be with this information. I am just providing some info about the scandal here so you can choose accordingly. As someone who LOVES mock meats, this was very sad news for me.
You can read some more info about this mock meat scandal in this Facebook post here. This blog post, while from 2009, also has some info.
The Word “vegan” has a very loose definition in Taiwan
People told me this is due to a translation fail. That vegetarian and vegan are the same word in Chinese (or there is no word for vegan rather). So really read the word vegan with a grain of salt on menus and signs and don’t blindly follow it.
It’s not that people are trying to trick you or anything, I think the concept is just a bit lost. Definitely install Google translate on your phone with the traditional Chinese dictionary downloaded for offline. Get a SIM card at the airport so you can use the visual translator. Google Translate helped me SO much in Taipei.
I’m usually too embarrassed to shove Google Translate in peoples’ faces, but it was worth getting out of my comfort zone to explore outside the western vegan spots.
Local Groups – Meet People in Taipei
There’s a lot of stuff on meetup.com too in Taipei!
Where to Stay in Taipei
Usually I’d like to recommend where I stayed, but I was in a dark and soulless AirBnB. It had a kitchen…with no cookware whatsoever (not even pans!) and even no towels! At night I definitely heard rats in the walls. AirBnBs in Taipei are super expensive, so I’d recommend other options. Since I really enjoyed my time in Taipei I was on the look out for places to stay next time. Here’s what I found.
If you’re staying at least a month…
Borderless House – A friend told me about this after I left Taiwan and I think it’s SUCH a cool idea. It’s a multicultural sharehouse that aims to connect Taiwanese and foreigners. 50% of the tenants are Taiwanese and they also arrange nationalities within Euro-American and Asian countries to create opportunities to get in touch with a diverse language and culture. My friend said they specifically try not to pair foreigners with others from their own country. You live in a real functioning flat with kitchen living space, etc. You can choose your own room or share with 1-2 other people to cut costs. Single rooms seem to be around 470€/month. Great option for digital nomads looking to connect with locals and other people there medium term or more. They also have Borderless House in Japan and Korea.
Just Sleep Ximending – Really nice vibe hotel that from what I’ve read is supposed to be an all-vegetarian chain. I cannot find it written on their website, just saw it referenced in a few vegans’ blog posts based in Taiwan so let me know if you stay! Their Kaohsiung location has a restaurant DoubleVeggie in it that’s vegan-friendly. Great for friends traveling together as they also do rooms with 3-4 beds if you want to share. Good location in the Ximending shopping (and gay) district, also near some vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants.
inhouse Residence – Moderately priced hotel in what ended up being my favorite neighborhood, Da’an. Near the university so there are tons of cute cafes, the beautiful Da’an park, street food, and close to lots of vegan spots. Kind of library-themed. It says they are vegetarian-friendly but you probably want to check ahead to ask if they can do some vegan options for breakfast.
Goodmore Hotel – Good affordable hotel option also in the cute, university district, Da’an. Prices for a room start at 35€/night.
NYS Loft Hotel – Putting this here as it seems to be a magical combination of chic hipster aesthetic hotel + affordable prices. You can get your own room with a single bed starting at 28€! For a hip hotel! Not bad.
Le Meridien Taipei – If you want a more luxurious hotel experience with a nice pool, spa, sauna and very vegan-friendly food, or your job is paying, this is a great option in the central business district. The breakfast buffet is supposed to be very vegan friendly and if you let them know you’re vegan they can make you even more.
Space Inn – I’m just putting this here because it’s space-themed and how awesome is that?! They also have a games room. Two locations, Space Inn Hengyang branch (in the west of the city) and Space Inn Xinyi branch (east side of the city).
Flip Flop Hostel – Main Station – I walked past this place a bunch as I was staying nearby and it looked awesome. They have dorms starting at around 10€/night, female dorms and single rooms with desks starting at 25€/night. Kitchen and planned activities so you can get to know people. It’s near several vegetarian restaurants with vegan options. Also right near Taipei Main Station so you can get there very easily from the airport, to the metro, and easily go on day trips around via the train.
Bouti City Capsule Inn – Also near Taipei Main Station this is a more upscale capsule hostel. They are rated for having super comfy beds and all capsules can be closed up for some privacy. They have double bed capsules too. Looks to be around 15€ per night, also has female dorms. Breakfast is included, but not sure how vegan. At least you get free tea and coffee in the morning though! Great ratings.
Star Hostel Taipei Main Station – Just putting this here because it looks so gorgeous. One for the hipsters, they are known for having great hand-brewed coffee and craft beer. Lots of reviews saying it is the “best hostel I’ve ever stayed in”. Loads of lounging space and they organize activities like Nintendo Switch night. They also have a location towards the east of the city.
Apartments and Single Rooms
So Sweet 3S Guest House – Lots of simple single rooms starting at 13-15€/night- Also have rooms with one bunk bed if you’re traveling with a friend. For the introverts among you!
Little Apartment C+D Welcome Taipei Long Stay – Really nicely designed apartments starting at 2 bedrooms. Good for families or friends traveling together who want their own private room. Maybe ask for a discount if you’ll be staying awhile. Some have full kitchens.
13 Apartment Taipei – Various levels of affordable apartments. Doesn’t seem to have kitchens though, but that seems to be a thing.
Gyms & Where to Workout in Taipei
It took me until my last several days in Taipei to realized that gyms are government subsidized in Taipei and that’s why I couldn’t find very many drop-in fitness spots like I was used to. Instead there is a Sports Center in each section of the city, each one generally has a fitness studio, pool, track, showers, the one I went to even had a ping pong room.
I was really nervous about going at first because the website was only partially in English and it seemed like somewhere where I’d confuse people as a foreigner. Then I found this video someone made on going to the Taipei Sports Center and it happened to be the one walking distance from where I was staying.
I have to say this was one of the things that impressed me most about Taipei! It’s only 1,50€ (less than US$2) per hour and the Sports Center was HUGE and SO nice! New machines, clean showers, lockers, lots of space.
People there did not speak much English but I managed to fumble through the check-in process with some miming and everyone there was very friendly. The guy working even ran over to give me my money back when he saw I put my coin in the locker at the wrong moment and thus had to pay twice.
Make sure you bring a towel, it’s required!
Cafes for Digital Nomads in Taipei
Taipei has no shortage of hip cafes with great coffee. Finding cafes with outlets and non-dairy milk was another issue altogether. Luckily the coffee quality was usually so good that I didn’t mind drinking it black. By the end I had found some excellent cafes to work in in Taipei I’ll share with you here.
All Day Roasting Company
Let’s start with my favorite place, shall we? Not only is this cafe gorgeous, with plenty of seats and outlets, they also make their own non-dairy milk that blends in perfectly with their excellent coffee. This place is a little out of the center but worth it. It’s near Green Bakery so you can get awesome vegan baked goods before or after getting some work done.
Ecole Cafe (學校咖啡館)
This place was so damn cozy. They have a soy milk latte, which you can see on the menu image. The soymilk was the super beany tasting type, however so I personally preferred it black. Lost of outlets around, big space and plenty of other people on laptops.
Notch Front Station (咖啡工場 站前店)
This cafe near Taipei Main Station has three levels, tons of outlets, and is filled with students working. No non-dairy milk, but I ended up here three times as the wifi was good, plentiful outlets, and I was always able to get a seat. As it was so big, and so many other people working, I never felt at all like I was in the way or staying there too long.
GinGin Coffee Company
This place was completely acceptable to work in. Some outlets, nice design. No vegan or non-dairy options, and I felt slightly more in the way here. It was probably my least favorite of the bunch to work in, but totally does fine in a pinch if nearby.
I quite liked this spot even if they didn’t have any non-dairy milk options. What made it unique was the balcony with an outlet at each seat so I could work with a nice view of the tree-lined street in front. Beware: The smokers also sit on the balcony. There’s an inside main area and a sort of hidden back room as well to work in. They have ice coffee too.
Night Markets in Taipei
Shilin Night Market for Vegans
Mushyaki Stand (寶菇燒 ) – That link is to the Google Maps location of the stand. This is a plant-based version of takoyaki. I never had the original version but apparently it’s usually with octopus? My partner found this and it was definitely the best thing we ate there.
Some other accidentally vegan things we found at Shilin market were red bean steamed bao, sweet potato balls (kind of chewy with tapioca but good), a fried mushroom stand, fried corn. It was definitely a fun market to explore.
Vegan Street Food in Taipei
by Taipei Main Station
Can’t find an English name for this place, but it has stuffed and fried buns. You can fill your stomach here for pretty cheap. My favorite one was the pumpkin. I’m not sure all are vegan but the pumpkin, cabbage and bamboo ones definitely were. Let me just say I used the Google Translate camera translator a lot to read signs in Chinese. This place is right down the road from another vegetarian restaurant I frequented.
Liu-Jin Vegetarian Buns (六津素包)
I wish I had gotten to this place sooner because OMG those black sesame steamed bao! The black sesame (zhima in Chinese) ones were hard to find, but this place had them. They have all sorts of steamed buns filled with different things, savory and sweet. Amazing, and of course affordable. Go here for your carb fix.
I found a lot of assorted accidentally vegan street food while waling around too. Mostly in the morning and afternoon.
NUTTEA Nut Mylk Tea (堅果奶 · 茶)
Apparently bubble tea was invented in Taiwan. They do all these awesome cream topped tea concoctions but very few places have a vegan version. That said
Vegan Dim Sim in Taipei
Yang Shin Vegetarian Restaurant (養心茶樓 蔬食飲茶)
This place is slightly on the fancier side. They have main courses but we went for the dim sum. LoL at the “vaggies” in the first picture. Here’s what we got. The thing with the seaweed on top ended up not being vegan because it had some kinda mayo sauce on top, but we didn’t realize until it arrived at the table.
Vegan Bakeries in Taipei
I went to four different ALL vegan bakeries in Taipei. FOUR. They were my favorite things. Usually it’s harder to find good vegan sweet food in Asia. With the mock meat ambiguity in Taiwan, savory ended up being more eh for me. BUT THE BAKERIES. Go for the bakeries alone.
HIP PUN (嬉皮麵包)
HIP PUN is a Japanese style all-vegan bakery. They have some affiliation with Mushyaki as sometimes there’s a mushyaki stand there. They also do lunch specials and have wifi, but maybe not the best place to work as not so many tables.
Yiihotang (一禾堂 )
I was originally told that only the Songshan District location was all vegan, but I went into a couple other locations (the one in Da’an District for example) and everything I saw was labeled vegan.
Anyway, this place was AMAZING. Epic even. Possibly one of the most exciting vegan bakeries I’ve ever been in. They had a lot of Taiwanese stuff veganized, like these salted vegan egg pastries that I actually kinda loved.
This is 100% a vegan Taipei MUST.
This place was so lovely, you can tell they really put their heart in it. It’s a bit further out but worth it. I found my favorite cafe for working in down the road (that has plant milk!) so was a win for me.
Vegan Heaven (純素天堂)
A tiny fancier vegan bakery that also puts a loving touch into everything you see. Not so many seats inside.
Vegan Restaurants in Taipei
Here are some of the ALL vegan restaurants I went to where you can be confident there is no accidental egg or something slipped in.
Ooh Cha Cha (自然食科技大樓) – Da’an Location
This is their smaller location with more sandwiches, salads and cakes. Definitely a good lunch stop and all-vegan so no guessing here.
Ooh Cha Cha (自然食古亭) – Zhongzheng Location
This is the bigger location. During the day they have a basement co-working space. You have to pay but then you get a discount on all your food. At night the co-working space turns into a bar with an all-vegan Mexican menu. Thanks to The Caffeinated Vegan for telling me about this as it was really not mentioned much online!
all-vegan bar with Mexican food in the basement of Ooh Cha Cha above
Opens from 5pm on from what I can tell. Beer, wine and Mexican food. They do game nights and stuff as well.
All vegan but kind of expensive place. Super tasty healthy food and they sell vegan cheese! Some reusable zero waste containers, water bottles, etc. Really great cakes.
Loving Hut – Guangfu Branch (愛家國際餐飲 台北 光復店)
I always travel alone and hot pot requires at least two people. Since I my partner was visiting for a few days I finally achieved my hot pot goals. There are several Loving Hut branches in Taipei, but this one specializes in hot pot. The hot pot was good, but nothing to write home about. I actually liked the appetizers the best. The cakes were still frozen when they got to us so maybe skip that.
A note about Loving Hut – they are very strict with their mock meats so anywhere that uses Loving Hut mock meats is definitely vegan.
Taiwanese Vegetarian Restaurants (with vegan options)
Zhongzheng District (by Taipei Main Station)
If you’re looking for cheap and simple this is the place. They have a special English menu if you ask. On it is labeled “vegan” and “vegetarian” but there is definitely a “vegan egg” that’s real egg so again, take it with a grain of salt. I got the mock meat here my first time but later I went with some local vegans and they said they wouldn’t trust the mock meat here is vegan so YMMV.
Not mind.blowing but cheap and accessible so I went here three times.
Another all-vegetarian Taiwanese restaurant. They have an English menu if you ask that has a vegetarian on one side and vegan on the other. Basically everything but stuff with mock meats is vegan. Tofu is okay though but I was a bit jealous of the people with mock meats! Pretty affordable. Wouldn’t go extremely out of your way but this was walking distance to where I was staying and I wanted to explore the area.
Ji Yuan Vegetarian (吉緣素食)
This was my fav of the Taiwanese vegetarian restaurants. This area was also pretty fun to explore as there was an open market nearby.
Again my dish ended up having a tiny bit of mock meat and who knows if it was vegan in retrospect. They have an English menu if you ask but it didn’t seem to have all the dishes on it. I just ended up showing them a picture of something off Google Maps that I wanted.
Another all-vegetarian restaurant just down the street from the previous one. I saw this on HappyCow with barely any reviews and went to check it out because there was a picture of a sushi burrito kinda thing. I got one and ate it for dinner later, it was tasty. Had some kind of mock meat in it in the end…so another one that was in retrospect maybe not vegan?
Vegetarian Buffets in Taipei (They’re a Definite Thing)
Evergreen Vegetarian Restaurant (長春素食)
This is that buffet that exploded ALL over YouTube awhile ago as the “world’s largest vegan buffet”. Turns out those journalists or YouTubers or whatever are really not so great at their research. It is DEFINITELY not all vegan. It is all vegetarian though. I also don’t even think it’s the biggest one.
The first time my partner and I went for lunch and it was very lackluster. The second time I went for dinner and it had WAY more food out.
Shy away from anything creamy looking or with mayo and you should be good. As for mock meats, probably safe to avoid if you want to be 100% certain unless you can speak Mandarin to really check in detail.
I didn’t take so many pictures as I was eating with someone and didn’t want to be rude. There were like 5 other sections besides these ones I took pictures of though. A soup section, a fried stuff section, mostly non-vegan desserts section, an area with teas, coffee and ice cream (including sorbets), an area where you pick the ingredients and they will make you a soup or stir-fry, a sushi area.
This was a HappyCow find and I definitely think it was even bigger than the Evergreen vegetarian buffet. I came more prepared this time and wrote on my phone in Google Translate “I can’t eat egg or dairy, can you show me which dishes are okay?”. It worked perfectly and a woman there walked be through the WHOLE buffet pointing out yes and no for me. The rest of my time there they also kept pointing different things out to me I could eat. I made a couple mistakes but this buffet felt way more approachable than the other.
Unfortunately the mock meats were not vegan as confirmed by the restaurant.
…and that was my two weeks in Taipei! My first time in Asia proper and I definitely need to get back to explore. Have you been? Let me know in the comments if I missed one of your favorite spots!
What to Do in Taipei
Hike up Elephant Mountain – You’ll be with a billion other people taking selfies, but it is a great view and a good workout with all the steps! It’s 500 steps to the rock viewpoint and 600 steps to the top! If you keep walking after you get to the top, that’s where it gets good and all the other people depart. Most people do it for the selfies, but if you walk further you can actually get a nice peaceful hike in!
Go to a Speakeasy – Alchemy Speakeasy was pretty cool and had great cocktails. There’s another bar downstairs and the reception will pretend they don’t know what you’re talking about at first. Tell them you are there for the speakeasy bar. Eventually they’ll open up a secret door and voila!
Pin this Vegan Taipei Guide for later:
Traveling around Asia? Check out my other guides and posts!
- Vegan Penang Guide – Does Georgetown, Malaysia live up to the hype?
- Vegan Street Food in Penang, Malaysia
- Vegan Bangkok Guide
- Super Thorough Vegan Chiang Mai Guide
- Vegan Kampot, Cambodia: Go Live in a Treehouse in this Hippy Mountain Town
- Koh Phangan – Vegan Heaven or New Age Hell?
- Vegan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – A 4-day Layover
- I got in touch with my inner hippy in Pai – Vegan Pai Guide
- Vegan Bali Guide – All you need for a week (or more) in Ubud
I always loved Chinese culture as a kid, but I am not sure if I am willing to visit mainline china unless there is a major change in government. But slowly I am learning how cool Taiwan is, and how vegan friendly Taipei is. Stinks about the confusion about meats, but I agree, it is probably just confusion on what vegan is compared to vegetarian. Food fraud isn’t anything new, it happens everywhere, even the states/european countries.
Yeah for sure, and there’s still plenty of vegan stuff in Taipei! I’d go for the steamed black sesame buns alone!