When we first looked at coming here, to Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, I googled. Naturally. What I found was pretty disheartening. I found tales of woe from vegans, stories of vegetarians who ate fish, or gave up and left the veg-life for good. I admit, I was worried.
Three months later and we’re leaving tomorrow. It has been a perfectly acceptable place to be happy vegans. Sure, we’ve missed mock-meat and some other vegan things, but it was hardly the torturous experience that some would have you believe.
Here’s my vegan Micronesian round-up, which I’ll cross post over at Thorntree and anywhere my lovely readers suggest, so future vegan-travelers don’t avoid the place.
There are a number of choices for vegans who want to eat out in Kolonia, Pohnpei.
Nantuelek, PCR (Pohnpei Surf Club)
This restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Sunday through Monday (closed Saturdays). The menu may not look very veg friendly, but you can ask for fried rice or noodles without meat, vegetarian spring rolls (lunch only), fried vegetables, and tofu (which comes with ginger and spring onion). It makes for a pretty good meal, and though the staff may laugh at you a little, we have gotten reliable vegan food here.
The bar has vegan pizza!! Just ask Wayne, or if he isn’t there, ask for a pizza with no meat or cheese. Easy.
The Village has some of the best western food on the island. We have had quite good breakfast here – tropical fruit, english muffins with jam, and oats (the porridge is made with water here as a matter of course). We bring our own soy milk if we want coffee. They also have fantastic vegan sorbet (called sherbert, not noted as veg on the menu).
The menu has falafel in pita pockets, french fries, a vegie burger, and a vegetarian plate. Unfortunately only the french fries are vegan. The falafel could be vegan, however we didn’t find communication easy and it came out with ranch dressing. It is very important to specify no dressing. Also, specify no butter on toast or muffins. Vegetarians should find it very easy to get food here.
I liked the place, which serves many vegetable and tofu dishes, however Mr got spooked by what he felt was chicken flavouring, so we only went the once. Try for yourself and decide.
Beautiful view! We had fried noodles (claimed to be vegan, but may have had non-veg seasonings) and pizza here. The pizza was ok, but not amazing. Worth it for the amazing view though.
There are many vegan foods you just can’t get here on Pohnpei; nooch, agar agar, mock meat, tempeh, hard tofu, spices for Indian food, bread, chocolate, most vegetables and fruits.However there is so much you can find in stores.
Things you can buy include:
- silken tofu (box kind)
- soy milk
- flavoured soy milk (chocolate, coffee, vanilla and green tea flavoured, sometimes available from Palm Terrace)
- coconut – meat, oil, milk, cream
- beans and pulses (lentils, chickpeas, black beans, split peas etc) – tinned, dried
- vegetarian re-fried beans and baked beans
- tinned vegetables
- frozen vegetables
- vegan apple pie (frozen)
- tropical fruit (beware, the mango is ultra stringy)
- pumpkin, potato, cucumber, eggplant, taro, yam, breadfruit, oyster mushroom, kangkong (like spinach)
- nuts and nut butters
- olive oil
- dried fruits
- cereal and oats
- brown rice, white rice, pasta and sometimes wholemeal pasta
- flours, sugar (make sure its CSR or it isn’t vegan), shortening, yeast, cornflour etc to bake
The stores to find these products in are:
No sign, ask where it is. This is the only place that has oyster mushrooms, thought not every day- monday is your best bet. The place next door sometimes has local tomatoes (which are fab).
The only place with soy milk – buy in bulk. Also has veg (sometimes, when a ship has come in) and other groceries. The only place with natural peanut butter.
Best place for tofu and Japanese and Korean grocery – pickled ginger, spices, nori, wakame, miso, soba, rice flour, mochi,
kimchi and the like. Check labels for vegan credentials.
Ace has the best freezer section by far, including vegan apple pie, frozen spinach, english muffins and the like. Ace also does the best job at keeping their vegetables fresh when they come in. Other places don’t seem to refrigerate them well enough, and they begin to rot within a few days, which is awful if you didn’t hear they were in until a little later on (a new boat arrival is pretty exciting given the lack of veg otherwise).
No, I didn’t spell that wrong, it is in fact the Mart of Walls. Wall Mart has a lot of USian junk food, which means it isn’t my favourite supermarket. However it has been trying hard lately to order in veg and keep it fresh, and they are becoming one of the best kept secrets for fresh vegetables on the island.
Random advice for vegos in Micronesia
- Peanut butter helps fill the protein gap if you’re not cooking for yourself
- Start using beans where you would normally use tofu/tempeh, as you’ll most likely get sick of baked beans and chilli beans pretty quickly.
- Bring or order some nutritional yeast
- Orange bananas for B vitamins (but don’t eat them at night, they keep you awake)
- Get on a text message tree about the arrival of fresh veg – make friends with expat women to find out when the ships are in
- Check the local markets most days, as tomatoes, spring onions, kangkong and mushrooms are snapped up quick.
- If you see something you love, buy in bulk. There are no garuantees it will be there tomorrow, or ever again.
Ho has been helpful.
And now, its on to Hawaii!