Can I be vegan in Nepal?

A comprehensive guide for vegans
  • Rajesh Neupane
  • Last Updated on Feb 20, 2024

Veganism in Nepali Culture

Although it's not the dominant diet in Nepal, many locals understand and respect vegetarian and vegan choices. Hinduism is the main religion in Nepal, which has many ties to vegetarianism. Many Nepali Hindus will not eat meat during certain festivals and religious ceremonies. There are even certain regions within the Himalayan mountains of Nepal in which the killing of animals is not allowed.

The words "veg" and "vegetable" are widely understood across Nepal, especially among servers and cooks, to denote a vegetarian dish. The word "vegan", however, is less known and might require an explanation. Many menus list the "vegetarian" item first and then have egg and meat options listed afterward for a higher price. Finding vegetarian food is quite easy across the country, but, as you are likely already accustomed to, you might need to specify, clarify, or modify a dish to make it completely vegan.

Table of Contents

Is it possible to be vegan in Nepal?

YES! Maintaining a nourishing vegan diet in Nepal is easy and delicious. Many traditional Nepali dishes are vegan or easily modified to be vegetarian.

Whether you find yourself in a busy teahouse while trekking or in a remote restaurant at the side of the road, you'll be able to fill your belly to your vegan heart's desire.

This article will help guide you through different vegan Nepali dishes so that you know what to order and when to look out for sneaky non-vegan ingredients.

Can I Trek in Nepal as a Vegan?

Yes, you will absolutely be able to maintain a vegan diet while trekking in Nepal and not have to sacrifice protein, nutrients, or, least of all, flavor! More and more vegan adventure seekers from around the globe are coming to Nepal to trek, which means teahouses (hotels that provide food along popular trekking routes) are well used to accommodating them. If you are in Nepal to experience the wonder of the Himalayas on foot, it is highly recommended that you go with a local guide. You can communicate your dietary needs to your guide, which they will then easily pass along to the kitchen on your behalf. It is not advised that guests enter the kitchen of restaurants or teahouses themselves (unless invited, of course) because it can be considered rude. It’s always better to have a capable guide act as a liaison between you and the kitchen staff to make sure you get exactly what you'd like.

You may choose any treks you are comfortable with; however, as per my experience, I would highly recommend very peaceful and vegan-friendly treks such as the Manaslu Circuit Trek, Tsum Valley Trek (since killing animals is extremely prohibited, Tsum Valley is known as a vegan valley too), Upper Mustang Trek, Kanchenjunga Trek, Langtang Valley Trek, Mohare Danda Trek, and more. Normally, we do not recommend eating meat for trekkers in the Himalayas due to hygiene reasons.

What to Order

If you're visiting Nepal for the first time, meal expectations are a typical concern for everyone, especially vegans. But don't worry! You still have a lot of options to pick from and enjoy.

Vegetable Dal Bhat

Dal bhat is a traditional Nepali delicacy that includes vegetable curry, dal (lentil) soup, and rice. Locals eat this dish every day for lunch and dinner and never tire of it; it’s that good!

It is beautifully balanced, and most restaurants and teahouses offer refills, so it quickly becomes a go-to meal for trekkers to refuel after a long day in the mountains. Many places will add beans or soy protein to their vegetarian curry for an extra boost.

As if local vegetable curry, fresh rice, and lentil soup weren't enough, you'll likely see dal bhat served with sautéed greens, papadam (thin, crispy bread), spicy pickled vegetables, and cut-up fresh vegetables. Flavors and ingredients vary based on the cook, the region, and seasonal availability, so it never gets boring. Sometimes you'll see the option for a meat curry, but it’s always cooked separately from the vegetable curry and would be listed as its own dish for a higher price.

Vegetable Dal Bhat
Typical Nepali Thali Dal Bhat

Watch out for

Veg dal bhat is almost always vegan; however, some places will serve it with curd (yogurt from buffalo milk) or with a mayonnaise-based dressing on a salad. Be sure to specify when ordering that you would not like these items. All of the parts of dal bhat are served individually, so if you get served something non-vegetarian by mistake, you can simply remove that portion and enjoy the rest.

Vegetable Momo

These gorgeous little Nepali dumplings are deeply loved across the country as a snack or a meal in themselves. Momo consists of a specially flavored filling wrapped in homemade dough and served with a spicy dipping sauce or swimming in soup. The best part? They are vegan!

The dough is made with only water and flour, and the delicious filling is finely chopped vegetables sautéed in cooking oil. Momo can be enjoyed steamed or fried and eaten with a fork or fingers.

Watch out for

Order "veg momo" (instead of chicken!) and confirm that they are not paneer (cheese) momo. The accompanying sauces and soups are almost always naturally vegan, but to avoid potential waste, you can double-check when ordering. Momo is also tasty with ketchup, which is what it is typically served with at teahouses in the mountains.

Vegetable Dumpling
Vegetable Momo - Dumpling


There are usually many veggie soup options available, from sweet pumpkin to spicy noodles. Nepali dal soup is a brothy lentil soup served on a dal bhat platter but can be enjoyed on its own. Dal soup is different from what they call "dal fry," which is a thicker lentil curry found in India and Sri Lanka and is sometimes cooked with butter. You will also see Thukpa, which is a vegetable soup cooked with noodles in a spicy broth. Nepali cooking is simple (although incredibly tasty!) and they don’t typically add sneaky things like fish sauce or chicken broth, as many other cuisines do.

Watch out for

You might find a soup that’s served with a boiled egg, but it's usually noted on the menu at a slightly higher cost. Some vegetable soups are milk-based; however, teahouses in the mountains keep it simple with water. And finally, if instant noodles are used, there might be some milk powder in the seasoning packets.

Vegetable Soup
Vegetable Soup

Veg Fried Rice and Veg Fried Noodles

Delicious and filling, these dishes are more naturally vegan choices! Both vegetarian fried rice and vegetarian noodles are simple dishes cooked with oil, vegetables, and spices. Sometimes you'll get a little protein boost with added peanuts, but usually, these dishes are exactly as they sound: vegetables and rice, vegetable thenduk, or vegetables and noodles. If there is an egg added, it will be listed on the menu as a separate item at a higher cost.

Watch out for

There aren't many sneaky ingredients in these dishes, except if a restaurant goes off course and uses butter instead of cooking oil.

Typical Tibetan Meal Thenduk
A Tibetan Meal - Vegetable Thenduk

Bread Items

Some of the breads you find in Nepal are vegan, some are not, so it’s good to have an understanding of what to order or when to ask.

Chapati is a flatbread-style bread locally enjoyed at breakfast alongside curry. Chapati is completely vegan, so you can try it with a vegetarian curry or take a more Western approach with jam or peanut butter.

Watch out for

Sometimes chapati is served with honey for tourists.

'Tibetan bread', served in the northern mountains, is traditionally vegan; however, Nepali bread, Gurung bread, is made with eggs.

The issue for vegans is that these breads are often written interchangeably, and there's no way to know whether or not they're vegan without asking.

Chapati with Vegetable Curry
Chapati with Vegetable Curry & Pickle

Sel Roti

It is a sweet dough made from rice flour that is deep-fried in a circular (sel) shape. You likely won't see it on a menu, but rather at a street vendor or in a local home. Most often, it's vegan, so give it a try if you get the chance.

Watch out for

Some people use butter instead of oil, so you can always double-check before indulging.

Sel Roti
Sel Roti


You can enjoy a tasty local savory breakfast of curry and chapati or go for a sweet alternative. If you’re trekking, there will be many vegan breakfast options to choose from. Oat porridge and muesli are on most menus, sometimes with fresh or dried fruit or nuts. Depending on the experience level of the chef, you might be able to get delicious, fluffy vegan pancakes! This isn’t always available, but it’s worth asking. If you’re spending time in the mountains, it’s highly recommended to try Champa (sometimes written as Tampa), a local porridge made of a mixture of wheat flour, buckwheat flour, barley, and other local grains.

Watch out for

If ordering oat porridge, Champa porridge, or muesli, be sure to specify that you would like hot water and not milk. Honey is sometimes added to breakfast items such as pancakes or chapati.


Tea, tea, and more tea! Tea is a huge part of the culture in Nepal, so you'll see locals drinking it from first thing in the morning right up until bedtime. Tea is served as a welcome offer at meetings, meals, and social gatherings. Masala tea is a flavorful, sometimes spicy, tea made from local spices that is different everywhere you go.

Drinks such as hot lemon, hot ginger, or hot mint are common while trekking because the boiled water is safe to drink and warms you up at high altitudes.

Watch out for

Milk tea is the norm for both regular and masala tea, so be sure to specify that you’d like "black tea" or "black masala tea". The same goes for ordering coffee; saying "black coffee" will be well understood.

In the northern mountains, you might see Tibetan tea, which is a truly unique blend of milk, butter, salt, sugar, and tea. Unfortunately, there's no vegan alternative at this time, but let's hold out hope for the future!

Honey is often added to hot drinks, so be sure to ask for no honey or sugar instead of honey if you'd like it sweet.


Nepal has a long way to go in the world of producing plant-based milk, meat, and eggs, but it’s not completely unheard of. If this is what you're after, you'll have more luck finding soy milk masala tea, cashew cheese, and tofu scrambles in city tourist areas such as Thamel in Kathmandu or Lakeside in Pokhara. These areas also house international cuisines such as Indian or Mediterranean, which have their own plethora of delightful vegan options.

Nepali Vegan Vocabulary

As mentioned, you will be well-understood when saying "veg" and "vegetable" at most restaurants and teahouses to request vegetarian dishes. If you want to clarify or double-check ingredients, you can use these terms.

  • I do not eat meat - Ma Masu khadina
  • I do not eat fish - Ma Machha Khadina
  • I do not eat eggs - Ma Anda Khadina
  • I do not eat or drink milk - Dudh khadina or Dudha piudina
  • I do not eat butter - Ma Ghee Khadina

Here are some other useful Nepali food phrases to use to impress the locals:

  • Vegetarian - Sakahaari
  • I would like - Dinus
  • It looks good - Ramro Chha
  • Delicious - Mitho chha
  • That's enough (for when they give plentiful refills of dal bhat!) - Bhayo/pugyo
  • Not spicy or a little spicy - Piro narakhnus/thorai piro rakhnus
  • A little bit - Thorai
  • A lot or very - Dherai
  • Thank you - Dhanyabad
  • Thank you very much - Tapai Lai Dherai Dhanyabad
  • See you again - Feri bhetaula

About this blog and writer: I am Chris Brooker, a Canadian yoga instructor who has been traveling around the world as a vegan for well over a year.

I’ve spent a total of five months in Nepal practicing meditation and trekking. I have done the Manaslu Circuit Trek, Mardi Himal Trek, Langtang Valley Trek, and Annapurna Base Camp Trek, and I have my sights set on Everest Base Camp next. Having been to many countries around the globe, I found Nepal to be one of the easiest places to maintain a nourishing vegan diet, especially with the help of my trekking guides.
The information I have written is an authentic reflection of my own personal experience while spending time in Nepal as a vegan. I hope it is useful and interesting to you.

Rajesh Neupane

Rajesh Neupane

Rajesh, known as Raj, is the founder and owner of Nepal Trekking Experts, as well as the company's main guide. He was born and raised in the mountain region of Manaslu and has a deep and abiding connection with the culture and nature of the Himalayan mountains. With more than 20 years in the trekking industry, from working as a porter and guide right through to his present role as the head of the company, Raj has the knowledge base and wealth of experience to customize and organize treks that fulfill each and every requirement for a successful journey,  including permits, equipment, clothing, medical supplies, and safety, as well as a familiarity with the fitness levels and experience required for each of the treks on offer in our portfolio. Having traveled most of the trails available in Nepal he has a deep affinity and connection to the broad spectrum of people and their cultures, as well as a deep appreciation for the various religions, history, flora and fauna of the mountain regions and their scattered valleys. 

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