While many Indonesian dishes are not inherently vegan, it is still a vegan-friendly place to travel to, as the animal products are often served separately, and thus can be easily excluded. Most Indonesian street food vendors, GoJe?k/Grab drivers, and restaurant waiters won’t know what vegan means, therefore you, as a traveler, should adapt to them, by taking the initiative and memorizing a couple of words, which you will significantly benefit from throughout your travels to different islands. Time to get educated about the must-try Indonesian streetfoods and how you can veganize them!

1. Gudeg

If you google Gudeg, you will most likely be put off by the appearance of that dish. And yes, while a lot of exceptionally 'gross' animal products can be found in the dish, the veganized version is a hearty young jackfruit-dish you simply must-try! It is very unique to Indonesia and bears no similarities to any type of western dish.

How to veganize Gudeg: tanpa krecek, tanpa telur, tanpa ayam, tanpa kerupuk udang. 

2. Nasi Rames

Nasi Rames is basically a portion of rice accompanied by various side dishes and (typically homemade) sambal. While some Indonesian buffet restaurants who sell Nasi Rames aren't vegan per se, you can easily order vegan Nasi Rames only. 

How to veganize Nasi Rames: Tanpa ayam, tanpa telur, tanpa sambal terasi. 

3. Gado-Gado

Gado-Gado is also known as the Indonesian Salad. It consists of various types of steamed vegetables, fried tofu or tempeh, lontong (rice cake), crackers, and is topped with peanut sauce. 

How to veganize Gado-Gado: Gado-Gado is basically a vegetarian dish, so if you're vegan, you can order it without a boiled egg. Just say tanpa telur. 

4. Nasi Goreng

Who doesn't know Nasi Goreng? Almost every Asian country has its own version of Nasi Goreng. What makes Indonesia's Nasi Goreng unique is the use of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) and Sambal. It is easy to veganize Nasi Goreng. 

How to veganize Nasi Goreng: Indonesians love to put any kind of meat and animal products in their Nasi Goreng! So for this one, you might need to be a little extra. When ordering Gojek or ordering at a restaurant, get Nasi Goreng Biasa (basic nasi goreng) and then clarify the following: Tanpa ayam, tanpa telur, tanpa daging, tanpa bakso, tanpa sosis, tanpa terasi, and tanpa kerupuk udang!. 

5. Bubur Ayam

From sweet to savory, Bubur (rice porridge) is Indonesian's all-time favorite breakfast. The most common Bubur you'll probably find is Bubur Ayam (chicken porridge.) Good news is, you can always order porridge without chicken! 

How to veganize Bubur Ayam: Tanpa ayam, tanpa telur, tanpa daging, tanpa kerupuk udang. 

Spicy Disclaimer

Most sambal is vegan. However, some Indonesians can be crazy about Terasi (shrimp paste), so when in doubt, always remember to ask and say tanpa terasi (without shrimp paste.) Some sambals, like green sambal from Padangnese eateries, are usually vegan, however ensuring it is by simply asking tanpa terasi doesn’t hurt, right?

Sambal that is typically vegan:

  • Sambal Ijo: Green chili sambal
  • Sambal Matah: Chopped chilies and onion with lemongrass and lime leaves
  • Sambal Dabu-Dabu: Big chopped chilies with onions and tomatoes
  • Sambal Bawang: Red chilies with garlic
  • Sambal Kemangi: Red chilies with Indonesian basil leaves

Extra credits if you care about the environment:

Tanpa Sedotan Plastik - Without plastic straw

Tanpa Peralatan Makan Plastik - Without plastic cutlery

Tanpa Plastik - Without plastic (Avoid unnecessary plastic bags while paying for your groceries)

Vocabulary essentials: 

Tanpa – Without

Hanya – Only

Sayur – Veggies

Terasi - Shrimp Paste

Telur – Egg

Ayam – Chicken

Daging – Meat

Krecek - Cow's skin

Krupuk Udang - Shrimp Crackers

Tidak Pedas - Not spicy