Restaurants / Bars

Mona Lisa Neuboeck Shows Us How to be a Vegan in Manila

October 27, 2014

A friend once told me: It’s hard to be vegetarian in Manila. The choices for vegetarian, more so vegan, produce is slim to none, and  is limited to the fruit and vegetable aisle or expensive specialized grocery stores. Raw vegan chef and advocate Mona Lisa Neuboeck thinks otherwise; if you’ve got the knowledge, you can treat your body well and eat excellent vegan food in Manila without compromising on flavor and breaking your bank. There are a lot of choices on Happycow.com – Just type ‘Manila, Philippines’ into the search bar. (You can even download the App for free on iTunes to get instant vegan/vegetarian dining options directly on your phone, even when traveling to whatever country in the world!). Here are Mona Lisa’s personal tips for eating vegan in the city.

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1. Corner Tree Café

Not all of the ingredients used are certified organic on this place along Jupiter Street in Makati, but it is still a great lacto-ovo vegetarian restaurant with that cozy French Brasserie feel to it and jazz tunes playing in the background. This is where I usually meet up with people who are very dear to me.

2. Satinka Naturals Bistro & Café

This is an earthy little establishment located at 1137 Kamagong Street in Makati. The owner duo, an artsy couple from the mountain province of Kalinga offers organic dishes with vegetarian, vegan and a few raw food options.

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3. JuJu Eats

Juju Eats is not a strict vegetarian restaurant but a very raw food / vegan friendly, healthy ‘fast food’ place along Pasong Tamo in Makati. Because it also offers non-vegetarian ingredients, I often take my non-vegan friends here to chat over a refreshing stainless-steel bowl full of salad and some mexican chocolate raw nut milk for dessert.

4. ‘Alive!’ at The Farm in San Benito

Located in The Farm in San Benito, Alive is my favorite vegan/raw food restaurant in the Philippines. Because it’s quite far from the city (it’s in Batangas). We usually only go there on special occasions to enjoy their world class 5 course raw food meals with epicure plating after an excellent massage treatment at their resident spa.

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5. Sunday Market in Legazpi Village

Since we moved to Subic, we no longer go there religiously but we always try to pass by and grab some organic produce from the Kalinga Farmers whenever possible. My raw food ‘classmate’ Asha Peri (from way back in Bali where we both completed our raw food chef training with Elaina Love) sells some selected homemade raw food items such as cakes, cookies and dehydrated items at her ‘Leafkitchen’ stall there every Sunday morning.

6. Landmark Supermarket Makati

Believe it or not, but this is where my Partner Corey and I buy most of our organic green leafy vegetables at times when we aren’t growing our own. They have an alright organic produce section in their veggie chiller including Romaine, Chinese Kale, spinach, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, curly lettuce and herbs. Rustans Supermarket Makati also offers the same selection as Landmark.

Have you ever tried going vegan? What are your favorite vegetarian or vegan restaurants in Manila? Do you have your own tips or recipes to share? Let us know below!

Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez

Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.

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9 responses to “Mona Lisa Neuboeck Shows Us How to be a Vegan in Manila”

  1. My “vegetarianism” has been on and off for several months now because it’s admittedly more pricey than a normal diet, which is really ironic because vegetables are supposed to be cheaper than meat. It’s baffling. That’s why my resolve to go on a full veg diet is directly proportional to the amount of cash in my wallet. Best options for me are Likha Diwa in Krus na Ligas, Green Wok in Matalino, any decent Indian resto (Little India in Malingap is full Ayurvedic vegan, they don’t use garlic and onion) and my own steamed kangkong with kecap manis and fried shallots for iron. Good Food Community is also worth following for updates on where to get beautiful organic veggies.

    Anybody know where I can get tempe in Manila? I have been craving for it since discovering its deep-fried goodness in Jakarta.

    • Junessa says:

      I’m vegan, and I’m a college student (living in a condo now). It definitely works! It helped me cut down my food budget by half. I don’t buy my greens from the grocery (nowhere near one either, so I have no choice really), just from the palengke. It’s pretty much the same thing (for me, at least). I eat a lot of rice too! A cup costs 8 to 12 pesos. A bunch of pechay and kangkong costs 20 pesos. Bam, instant dinner. Also, veganism/vegetarianism doesn’t have to focus solely on vegetables. You have grains and root veggies too! Fruit is actually more expensive than greens.

      • Too bad, I can’t cook. I live in a student dorm in Diliman that explicitly bans cooking. Still, I managed to sneak in a rice cooker which I use to steam my veggies. Hahaha I would cook up a storm if I had a kitchen, though.

        • Jaq A says:

          We’ve been teaching plant-based cooking workshops and use a rice cooker to cook our dishes. We decided to do use a rice cooker because of a comment from a student at a health forum, where we were speakers. He also can’t cook in his dorm room and we suggested using a rice cooker. So far, we’ve been able to make stir-fry veggies, soups, and rice dishes. It works as a slow cooker so you don’t need to be an expert cook to make delicious food. Just dump in the ingredients and wait for the food to cook. You can make a dish that’s good enough for several meals. I can send you some recipes if you’d like. 🙂

          • Thank you! I actually do the same, toss in ingredients and leave it to simmer. I have done quite a lot of wonderful stir fries and soups in my cooker. I can also whip up a mean vegetarian pilaf but I am just restricted to food that do not really smell when they are cooking, lest I get in trouble with my landlady who has forbidden any kind of cooking in our dorm. I need to move to a studio apartment. Haha

  2. Junessa Rendon says:

    Thanks for the ideas! I just wish people here in the Philippines would know the difference between “vegetarian” and “vegan” (especially servers and/or cooks in restaurants). Vegetarians can still eat cheese, whereas vegans choose not to consume any animal products.

  3. Elise Garcia says:

    There are a lot of restaurants now that offer vegan meals on their menu. Earth Kitchen/Kitchen 56, Pipino and Wabi-Sabi are just a few of my favorite (that are not included in the list)! I thought going vegan in Makati is hard, but its becoming friendlier. There’s also Salcedo Saturday Market in Salcedo Village, Cocogreen and co. in Picasso Boutique and Edgy Vedgy in Kapitolyo.

  4. […] seen a lot of local and organic spots lately, but none have gone the totally vegetarian or vegan route. The healthy living and eating lifestyle has turned into a full-fledged campaign for […]

  5. Nizzie says:

    I highly recommend Satinka Naturals. 🙂

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