Vegetarian cooking is something I’ve been exploring after completing yoga teacher training. After eating an Ayurvedic diet for three weeks whilst undergoing our teaching training program, I realised that I could no longer stomach red and white meat. Since exploring alternative foods, I have found an abundance of recipes, businesses and cafes offering wholesome, unique and nutritious options for non-meat eaters. Reducing your meat intake is good for the environment and good for your temple (your body that is). I’m very aware that every Instagram Yogi and her dog is a clean eating vegan but at Statera Collective we are about balance.

 One of Statera Collective’s objectives is to take volunteers on a culinary journey, enjoying delicious and diverse vegetarian cuisine and show off Siem Reap’s amazing array of eateries.

We have picked three of our faves so you can try meat-free in Siem Reap..

VIBE CAFÉ / vibecafeasia.com

Vibe café is such a COOL vegan place! Don’t worry there’s not a plain lettuce leaf in sight. The café itself is nestled away in a quiet street off the main strip but boy, they are up-to-date. Anything you want - raw treats, seed and nut mixes, good coffee, cooked vegan meals; your breakfast lunch and dinner is covered if you end up getting hooked like I did. Upstairs is a beautiful bright open space where you can hang out in a rattan swinging chair or work away on your laptop at their long wooden table. You’ll be surrounded by plants, sunlight and delicious wholesome vegan food. Their food is so interesting, that’s why we love it – they’ve reinvented some good old favourites but kept it vegan which is incredible. We’ve visited this café with avid meat eaters who were a little apprehensive of the V-word but they left having almost licked their plates clean.

Our top picks are the Buckwheat Flatbread (Gluten-freers this one is for you!), super simple but hits the spot and their Honest Burger – you’ll have one of those “I can’t believe it’s not butter’ moments – the monster sized chickpea patty, all the trimmings and sweet potato fries with special vegan ketchup will leave you full, extremely satisfied and returning the next day for more. If you need a mid-morning pick-me-up, try their beautiful coffee with fresh nut milk. If you’re feeling nostalgic and missing your local café back at home, it’ll give you a familiar piece of home.

FOOTPRINTS / footprintcafes.org

Footprints is a social enterprise founded by expats and operated by local Cambodian superstars. Read their story on their menu – these guys are genuinely hearts on legs and their vision is H-U-G-E! We love being a part of their journey.

Pheak Day and the team will bend over backwards to give diners an amazing dining experience and their food is FRESH as you can get! Whilst Footprints café is not solely a vegetarian eatery (there are so many awesome choices on the menu for our meat-eating friends – their Fish Amok…*drool*), they do veggie dishes REALLY well! It’s the perfect place to dine with friends, grab a coffee, or pull out one of their books from their overflowing bookshelf. We recommend a locally written Cambodian novel called ‘A Proper Woman’ which gives tourists an honest account into the life of a Cambodian woman and how she broke cultural norms to study, travel and pursue a career.

Try Footprints’ Mango Peanut salad (this is an OMG dish and not your typical light salad but rather is loaded with fresh ripe mango and flavour) and their quirky smoothie combinations are to be reckoned with! Chocoholics, try the Fudge Brownie Smoothie – if you’re watching your sugar intake, maybe don’t.

BANLLE / banlle-vegetarian.com

This little place is quiet and more of a local dining experience. The restaurant is actually outdoors and little tables are positioned under the veranda to steer you clear of any rain or direct sunlight. It is actually quite relaxing to dine there as lush plants and old tall trees surround you. Banlle has a very homely feel to it and it almost feels like you’re eating at someone’s house. You will make friends with the restaurant owners’ pets who roam free – they’re friendly so even if you’re not an animal person, they won’t impose on your dining experience. This place is 100% vegetarian and it’s best experienced if you order a few dishes to share with your table – try a bit of everything. We recommend the BBQ Mushroom Sandwich which mimicked ‘pulled pork’. Very tasty and satisfying. It’s a messy dish but oh-SO worth the dash to the hand basin to wash your hands afterwards.

On our Changemaker Trip, we do visit and recommend these cafes as part of our welcome and farewell dinners. We also include a BEAUTIFUL vegetarian cooking class where a local Cambodian chef guides you through a few local dishes, made from scratch. Later, enjoy a long table lunch sampling the fruits of your culinary labour of love.

These recommendations are shared with love

Enjoy x

Valentina is the Founder of Statera Collective. Statera Collective offers affordable responsible volunteering and wellness trips to Cambodia across different projects and start from one week in length so you can give back, fill up and afford the time away from your day job. Enquire at info@stateracollective.com

Vibe Cafe's Acai Smoothie bowl

Vibe Cafe's Acai Smoothie bowl