Vegetarian Culture in Vietnam

By: Tien Ly  

When thinking of the Vietnamese cuisine, people usually highlight popular specialties such as Pho, Nem, spring roll, vermicelli with crab and local pancakes, which are well known dishes that have attracted and pleased customers at restaurants inside and outside the country. These dishes started as non-vegan meals, but have now been transformed into vegetarian food, and are served on the first and last two days of the lunar month, aimed at the Vietnamese people. For a long time, Vietnamese inhabitants have increased their awareness of the benefits of eating more green vegetables, as part of limiting the intake of animal protein. Vegetarian dishes have increased in popularity, and are now enjoyed by more non religious people, from all walks of life, besides the more traditional Buddhists. The Vietnamese vegetarian culinary culture is a culture inherited from the tradition of the country melted by geographical features, regional art of cooking, local diversity - which are factors that make Vietnamese vegetarian dishes distinctive on the global culinary map. This particular culture reflects the Vietnamese identity in culinary art, food taste, eating philosophy as well as the point of view of people who lives in a tropical country rich in natural resources. This paper examines Vietnamese vegetarian customs in terms of culture and nutrition and answers on questions such as: What is so special with Vietnamese vegetarian food? How are they prepared? Why do Vietnamese people prefer vegetarian food? Where is it possible to find the best Vietnamese vegetarian dishes? Is there a special Vietnamese eating style? This paper also analyzes the role and impacts on the daily Vietnamese life style by examining people’s practices and behaviors. Through this research, we hope to share our personal point of view as well as to offer insights into this culinary culture that appear to be the Vietnamese pride on the dining table.

"Vietnamese", " Vegetarian", " Culture"
Food Policies, Politics, and Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Tien Ly

Head of Department of Southeast Asian Studies at HCMC Open University, Doctor Ly Quyet Tien has been guest lecturer at many universities in Ho Chi Minh City. He holds bachelor's degrees in History & in English from University of Social Sciences and Humanities. He also holds M.A. degrees in FLE from University of Rouen, in Vietnam History from Southern Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City. In 2008, he received his Ph.D. in Eastern Asia and Humanities from University of Paris 7- Diderot. Specialist in Vietnamese studies, he took part as presenter in international conferences: the 4th QS MAPLE Conference 2014, the 5th QS MAPLE Conference 2015, "I, too, remember dust" 2015, the 8th Annual International ADI Conference 2016, New York Conference 2016 on Asian studies, the 5th IAPMS Conference 2016, 10th International Convention of Asia Scholars 2017, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society International, Conference 2017 and QS-APPLE Conference and Exhibition 2017. He can be contacted at