Bangkok — the capital of street food according to many. Where hunger will always be satiated, 24/7. This world-renowned city of culinary delights is bursting with amazing food everywhere and at any time of the day. From Joke or Moo Ping for breakfast to Kao Ka Moo for lunch, Look Chin Ping for afternoon snacks, and a late-night feast of Krapao Kai Dow! But what about Vegan food? I can almost hear you scream out loud “Say what now?”. We can’t deny the fact that Veganism has been on the rise for the last few decades and has been on everyone’s lips at one point, whether it was for good or bad. It’s also a fact that globally more and more people are embracing the Vegan lifestyle. But does it have a place in a city where every corner you go to is filled with meat-based food? Can Thailand embrace this plant-based lifestyle like the rest of the world? Today, we’ll take you to the latest up-and-coming plant-based restaurant in Ekamai and have a chat with the Owner/Chef of Earthling Cafe, and ask her some questions about her unique menu and take on the Vegan food scene.
My name is Samantha Häberly. I’m a plant based nutritionist and the chef for a resort company in Thailand and the Maldives. I’ve been plant based for eight years and that’s
how I got interested in plant based nutrition. Eight years ago, when I stopped eating meat, there was nowhere to eat. There was nothing in any restaurant except a salad in Thailand. It was really hard to find anything to eat. So, that’s when I got interested in it.
The Path to Plant-based Lifestyle
I was always supposed to be a vegan, I think. When I was little, I would love to cook with my mom, but I never wanted to touch meat. When I was really little, I asked my mom, how do cows make meat? I didn’t know that animals were meat. I think we need to be honest with kids now, too, because I think a lot of people would choose to be vegan if they really understood the meat industry. For me, the first reason was the meat industry. I don’t agree with mass farming, the treatment of animals because I’m an animal lover. I love nature and the planet and I personally think that you can’t eat meat and be an animal lover at the same time.
The whole concept is plant-based. I don’t like the word “vegan”. I think veganism is misleading. People usually think that if something is vegan then it should be healthy. But that’s not true. Because vegan food often has sugar, processed ingredients. It’s not natural. It’s not from the earth. Like potato chips are vegan, but they’re not good for you. We’re all about really looking at nutrition, the link between brain health and gut health, about healing the body from the inside out and about doing it in a delicious way. The concept is nature, nutrition, earth.
Logo and Name
I designed the logo and drew it myself. To me, Earthling is just any soul that lives on planet Earth. Any life that lives on planet earth: a tree, a cow, a cat, you, me. I thought that it was a good name for what I wanted to do.
Why Choose Bangkok?
I think anywhere is the right place to open a plant based restaurant. I think that in 2022, people have become much more conscious of what they eat, what it does to the body, and what it does to the planet. I think Bangkok has a very quickly growing plant based community and people that are open minded. I think that’s the main thing, and it’s not just foreigners who come here. We’ve been open less than two weeks, but we’re getting Thai people coming in as well.
Why Plant-based Lifestyle
For the planet, for your health, and for your soul. Everybody knows that the meat industry is one of the worst in terms of global warming. Also, we could feed the whole world with the amount of food that we feed to animals that we grow to kill. So, that’s the main thing. The second is nutrition. It’s proven. People will argue with me, but I believe that it’s proven that people who live a plant-based lifestyle generally suffer less diseases, chronic illnesses, less heart disease, less obesity, less diabetes, less types of cancer. That’s a big reason not to eat animals, or at least to eat less animal products.
And also for your soul, your energy. If you believe in energy, then if you think about how these animals die in pain, if they’re scared, and they’ve never received any love in their life, then the energy goes into that meat, and then you consume that energy into your body.
What I specialize in is holistic nutrition. So, it’s more than just food, it’s about healing the mind as well as the body and physically getting people to move. We thought that tying in a little bit of wellness in the creative space fit perfectly with the concept. Because of that, we invite people to come and do yoga, pilates, sound healing, and then tie it together with nutrition because plant-based is a lifestyle, not a diet.
Past and Future of Plant-based Food
I think that because people are more aware now of the information, the truth about the meat industry is much more available now and the meat industry is continuously getting worse and worse; the amount of land that they use, deforestation, global warming, people know more about it now. Maybe 30 years ago, people didn’t know about it as much as today because we’re connected through the internet and are able to share the information.
Advice for Meat Lovers
So, just don’t be scared of it and also don’t feel scared to try or to fail. I hear from a lot of people that they try and after a week or two weeks, or a month or two months or six months, they want to eat meat, then they eat meat. As a result, they feel like they have failed — but that’s not a failure. That’s still a huge success if you’re able to even make a small change at a time. So, just if you need advice, you can always come here. I’m more than happy to help anybody and just experiment in the kitchen. Just practice and you’ll see how delicious vegan food can be. You can do it for sure. You can also start with one meal a day or one day a week. It gets easier and you’ll feel good. Also, I like to challenge people to do two weeks without animal products and tell me how you feel. I promise you’d feel the difference in your body.
I think that in Thailand, it’s the same as the whole world and I think it’s gonna grow bigger. I think it’s exponential, and that we’re just at the beginning of a wave of change and we’re gonna see some really amazing mass adoption of plant-based diets. It’s the best way to feed the whole planet as well. You know, it’s gonna happen more slowly in places like Vietnam, where maybe there’s less of an international community. Thailand has a huge international community that brings this in.
I think it probably brought a big part in the sense that it brings the food here, and then it gives the access to Thai people. I think Thai people are really interested in it too, once they start getting used to it or trying; when it’s more accessible. I also think that plant-based food can be quite expensive, then maybe less people have access to it. So, we don’t want to do that here. We want everyone to be able to come here to eat, and to feel comfortable. We really focus on creating a homely-friendly environment.
So, besides plant based eating, I believe that the healthiest way for the body and for the planet to eat is seasonally. You can reduce your carbon footprint by eating local food instead of imported food, like locally grown vegetables. This is because a lot of the restaurants imported the ingredients for their food. Like imported herbs, imported tomatoes or fruit and there’s really no need to do them, because Thailand has amazing produce. Of course, produce is seasonal, like it’s not always in season to eat local avocados. It’s not always in season to eat strawberries. So, when it’s in season, that’s what we design our menu around and when it’s out of season, we’ll change it and put it in the front of our menu. Some days, if the market doesn’t have certain ingredients, then maybe we exchange this ingredient for something else. We’ll probably change the menu 3 times a year.
Made with organic tofu and locally grown produce. This breakfast is the perfect start to your day. Because of the tofu, it’s high in plant protein. Turmeric also helps promote a healthy heart and helps the body to fight oxidative stress.
Made with 100% natural ingredients from the earth; no sugar, nothing processed. All ingredients are locally grown.
Homemade and without highly processed ingredients. Our burgers show that plant-based food can be fun and satisfying, even when you have a junk food craving.
A lighter option that’s perfect for lunch, with homemade tofu “chicken” and homemade creamy mayo.
Help you feel more balanced with warm spices, adaptogens and homemade plant based milks.