Answer: it depends
We get asked all sorts of questions every day. Some are specific, some are very broad. This one is very broad in that it covers a whole culture’s cuisine. I’ll try to stick to the basics on this one.
First, let’s all agree that Thai food is awesome. Spicy, tangy, hot hot heat. Just good stuff. You just have to know what to look for when you are eating Thai food.
One of Thailand’s major exports is fish. And most dishes include ocean life, whether it’s shrimp or fish. There can be a hidden ingredient in most recipes too, fish sauce. That’s right, fish sauce. When preparing traditional Thai recipes at home, don’t add fish sauce. When ordering out, request “no fish sauce.”** Be aware that some restaurants prepare in advance large quantities of sauces, and may not be able to accommodate the request for “no fish sauce.” Also be aware that some restaurants may assume you mean, “no EXTRA fish sauce,” as many of these pre-prepared sauces will already have fish sauce.*** Another possible hidden ingredient is oyster sauce. Again, just avoid it and request none. Other dishes may include egg (like Pad Thai or fried rice), again, avoid or request none.
Beyond that, almost anything else can happily be made vegan friendly. We’re big fans of Thai food at the IsItVegan house. Big, big fans… Now I want some Hot Basil Tofu …
** I was once told by a waiter that my meal wouldn’t taste good without fish sauce. Guess what, it still tasted excellent. Crazy.
*** Smart tip from Alex. Thanks, Alex!