Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
I spent a few days in Vietnam. How easy was it to avoid soy?
Because I was only there for a few days, I didn’t approach Vietnam in our usual new country approach. I didn’t check the grocery store for soy products and I didn’t really look at the ingredients on packaging labels. Instead, I looked for soy-free menu options and considered how hard it would be to ask about ingredients.
It is relatively easy to eat soy-free in Vietnam. Vietnamese cuisine is extremely diverse and intricate; it isn’t just covered in soy-based sauces. While plenty of dishes contain soy, there were always options that were likely soy-free. Additionally, I always felt like I could ask about soy in English and be both understood and taken seriously.
I never had Vietnamese food for breakfast while I was there. Instead, I ate mostly western foods like pancakes and danishes. However, these western foods were likely made from scratch (not a lot of pre-packaged pancake mix available in Vietnam), which means they were likely soy-free. I never asked since Ashley needs to avoid soy and I don't, but was confident that I could have found something soy-free to eat for breakfast each morning.
Lunch and dinner foods were extremely varied. I ate things like stir fry, rice, vegetables, and banh mi (a Vietnamese sandwich). These foods all could have contained soy, but they weren’t necessarily dependent on soy. While the stir fry probably used soy sauce, the banh mi used freshly baked bread (likely soy-free). Even if a couple of dishes contained soy, there was so much variety in each menu that a soy-free dish was certainly able to be found.
Snack foods were a little more challenging. Since the ingredient label isn’t in English, I needed a translation app to read it. These translations might not be perfect, so I would recommend avoiding pre-packaged snacks in general. I also had some good local beer from a western-style craft brewery. This beer was definitely soy-free as it was made with local ingredients and flavors, instead of adding flavoring agents.
Overall, eating soy-free in Vietnam isn’t a no-brainer, but it isn’t as challenging as China. With the variety of dishes available and the prevalence of English, it was possible to find something soy-free to eat without too much trouble. As a result, Vietnam should definitely be on your list of countries to visit!