Sri Lanka: Vegan in Colombo

Our journey began in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. We arrived late in the afternoon, so we had some hours to explore the area around us before leaving the city direction Hatton/Nallathanniya.

Colombo: warm and chaotic

It was the kindness of all the people around us, that’s left us fascinated from the beginning of our journey through Sri Lanka. 

Our first accommodation was located a bit out of town, so we were almost the only foreigners in the area. We arrived just before New Year’s Eve and everyone we came across on the busy streets smiled at us and wished us a happy new year.

The Streets of Colombo at Night

“Ah, you are Vegetarian?!” - Vegan in Colombo, Sri Lanka

When you are looking for delicious plant-based food, Sri Lanka is the right place – but you should rather enjoy the traditional food on the countryside! It sounds strange, but we really had trouble finding something (traditional) vegan at the most touristic and crowded places. Sure, you will always find something (have a look at HappyCow), but the best food we’d got during our journey were the home cooked curries at the homestays far away from “official” restaurants.

Sriyani

All the restaurants in Colombo listed on HappyCow were located in the city centre or on the completely other side of the town. That’s why the only restaurant we visited on the day of our departure was a place called “Sriyani”. The Sriyani is located near the central station and was quite busy when we got there. It was an adventure eating here only with locals and staff which didn’t speak English at all! We don’t know how, but we eventually managed to order some rice and various small bowls with spicy but tasty vegetables inside. When we left the restaurant, we bought some sweet buns for take away. You want to soak in the culture of Sri Lanka? Visit this restaurant!

The Sriyani Restaurant offers delicious vegan food

Green Life - Vegetarian Restaurant

When we explored the city at our first evening in Colombo, we saw a bright green sign with the letters “Green Life – Vegetarian Restaurant” on it. Would we find our first delicious Sri Lankan Curry here?? 

The restaurant just opened back in November 2019 and seemed to be nice and modern. We were the only guests. As we were not able to decode all the things on the menu, we asked for something vegetarian without milk, butter and egg. Maybe we were not precise enough, as we got rice with vegetables, and something like cheese on top. We ended up leaving the cheese aside and eating an okayish bowl of rice with vegetables.

colombogreenlifevegetarian
Rice with vegetables at "Green Life" restaurant in Colombo

It took some time until we figured out that the word “vegan” was not common in Sri Lanka. When we explained not to eat any animal products, we often heard something like: “Ah, you are vegetarian?!”. Fortunately, almost all vegetarian curries in Sri Lanka are vegan, anyway. For locals in rural areas, it is quite uncommon to cook with dairy or butter.

After our first and disappointing meal in Colombo, we decided to only pick some bananas and oranges for breakfast in the morning. So, what else would you need?

Bye, Bye, Colombo

As usual, we were happy to say “goodbye” to a large city like Colombo. Not hard at all, as the most beautiful landscape we’ve ever explored was waiting for us! We took the first train in the morning to get to Hatton/Nallathanniya and enjoyed a spectacular train ride.

Jessica
Author

Sri Lanka Travel Log

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