Batam, located in the Riau Islands, is a small island in Indonesia with a bustling and vibrant city! Indonesia's cuisine is highly underrated, possibly as it is not yet a part of the wider global food scene.
The majority of traditional dishes may appear to be centred around meat and seafood, but take a closer look into the local menu, and you will find a huge array of vegetable meals suitable for vegans. Keep reading to find out more.
Think spicy sambal, salty yet sweet peanut sauce over green vegetables, the home of the humble tempeh and an abundance of fresh tropical fruit - that is vegan food in Indonesia. The best part of Indonesia's food culture is that the majority of dishes are assembled to order, made as you choose, with as much or as little ingredients that you want to pay for.
This makes life easier for vegans, vegetarians or anyone else on a particular diet, as you can simply ask the food seller not to add the ingredient you don't eat; such as egg. The next best thing? The price! Street food or even a meal at a Warung (restaurant) will be well priced and meals usually cost around $1.00 with a cup of hot kopi (coffee) for 50c. In Indonesia, you can always find a range of fresh fruit everywhere you travel!
A special thanks to my local friend Sabrina for hosting me and showing me around. Batam Island is easily accessed by ferry from Singapore, but it is not frequented by western tourists, so the local experience would be a great opportunity for you to learn how to navigate this new location.
Ready to learn more? Let's start our Vegan Food Guide for Batam Indonesia.
In this article, I want to share what I learnt about street food in Indonesia and give you some examples of how you can manage a vegetarian or vegan diet whilst visiting this destination. Traditionally, the local cuisine is centred around rice and meals bring the family and community together.
Overall, "vegan food" is not yet at the forefront, but it is still possible to find. Tourist hot spots such as those in Bali are fast becoming some of the more popular destinations for plant-based restaurants, wellness retreats and healthy living. Remember that Indonesia is made up of over 17,000 islands, the type of food you can find is incredibly different from place to place.
No matter where you go, the street food will help you stay on a backpacking budget, but be ready for some interesting flavours and a decent amount of spice! The desserts and sweets are part of daily life, with no shortage of options, made with ingredients such as coconut milk, grass jelly and banana. Herbal drinks like Jamu, based on turmeric and ginger, are healthy and delicious. My top tips are simple; eat where the locals eat, avoid food that isn't cooked fresh to order including the self-serve street stalls, and remember to stay hydrated!
What To Order
Fresh Coconuts - Es Kelapa
These are your best friend when you are travelling in extreme heat and humidity or for when you find yourself fatigued. Coconut water is hydrating and is packed with vitamins.
Vegetable Fried Rice + Tempeh + Tofu - Nasi Goreng Sayur + Tempeh + Tahu
A simple mix of rice, vegetables with tempeh or tofu on the side. Tofu is commonly prepared with garlic and turmeric giving it a bright yellow colour. This is the staple dish that you will likely eat during your stay in Batam if you want to eat both local street food and vegan.
You can swap out the rice for different varieties of noo