As the interest in plant based food shows no sign of slowing down, we are finding more and more luxury hotels and resorts embracing this demand. It wasn’t so long ago that you would often struggle to find a veggie option let alone a vegan option on the menu so it’s exciting to see things are changing. These luxury resorts are leading the way for luxury vegan travel in the Maldives by offering not just vegan options but vegetarian restaurants, vegan menus and even the very first 100% plant based restaurant in the Maldives. Read on to find out more about how we were literally spoilt for choice with the huge selection of creative plant based cuisine during our last trip to this tropical paradise.
OBLU SELECT at Sangeli can be reached after a short and exhilarating speedboat ride from the international airport in Male. With a selection of beach and water villas, many with private pools, you can be sure to find the perfect residence for your Maldives vacation. The resort is owned and managed by Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts who previously opened the first ever vegetarian restaurant in the Maldives, Just Veg at Atmosphere Kanifushi. We’ve been. It was good. In fact, it was very good. Therefore we knew we were in safe hands.
Breakfast let us dip our toes into the impressive food on offer at OBLU SELECT at Sangeli. There was everything you would expect from a luxury resort buffet but there was also a Maldivian curry that produced serious silence and knowing stares across our table. That’s how we eat when we know something is spectacularly good. It had long beans, potatoes and a coconut gravy that was full of all the spices that have ever sailed across the Indian Ocean to grace the tables of food lovers around the world. And then there were pancakes, prepared for us ‘off menu’ by the super helpful Chef Khem. Made with flax seeds and wholewheat flour they were healthy plant based pancakes, so we felt virtuous and content when we polished off a whole stack with a selection of the freshly made compotes that were available.
Vegetarian restaurant in the Maldives – Simply Veg at OBLU SELECT
When dining at ‘Simply Veg’ you can expect gourmet vegetarian cuisine with plenty of dishes that can be prepared vegan. The menu reads well with a selection of dishes with Asian and European influences; despite only staying for a couple of days we were determined to eat every vegan friendly option on the menu. You’ll be pleased to know that we succeeded and were suitably impressed. We enjoyed Thai curries and Maldivian curries that were packed with flavour, samosas that were crispy, perfectly cooked noodle dishes and hummus served with beetroot pitta. Our ‘Riso Verde’ was a very good risotto and the ‘Simply Veg Carpaccio’ was the sweetest of pineapple with lemongrass syrup and mint granita.
We love that Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts have continued with their commitment to offering vegetarian and vegan food at their resorts and long may it continue…
Amilla Fushi translates to ‘My Island Home’ and oh boy, would we love to call this tropical paradise home. A collection of luxury villas sit either amongst the swaying palms on the beach or overlooking the azure tropical ocean; everywhere you look oozes luxury and style. We’ve stayed before and enjoyed the vegan options but since our last visit things had got really exciting with the introduction of a vegan menu available throughout the resort. We can confirm that our excitement levels were sky high.
Vegan menu in the Maldives – Amilla Fushi
The extensive vegan menu (and we mean extensive) is available resort wide at each and every restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is a great concept meaning that you can select an item from the existing menu in the restaurant of your choice or you can request the vegan menu (and that’s where all of your plant based dreams come true). Breakfast choices on the vegan menu included tofu scramble, vegan omelet, plant based pancakes and the most incredible ‘Blueberry Oatmeal Waffles’ that were so good we ordered them every day. On the standard menu there was an excellent ‘Indian Breakfast’ and an even better ‘Arabic Breakfast’ which Chef Ameen ‘veganised’ for us. Simply sensational.
Lunch and dinner was an absolute pleasure wherever we decided to dine. We enjoyed dishes from the standard menus and also from the vegan menu; being able to ‘mix and match’ was a blessing. Vegan calzone? check. Vegan calzone with vegan cheese? check. Vegan tacos? check. Vegan fish and chips? check. Yes, you heard us right, theres a fish and chip shop at Amilla Fushi and we enjoyed tofu fish, chips and mushy peas. OMG. We even had one of our favourite comfort foods of all time, vegan mac ‘n’ cheese which was divine. Don’t worry, there are cakes too and the ‘Dark Chocolate and Coconut Macaroon Tart’ served with coconut ice cream and fresh fruit was irresistible.
Amilla Fushi haven’t stopped with the launch of their vegan menu, since our visit they’ve worked with Swedish ‘vegan food designer’ Chef Tora Flora for a ‘vegan takeover’ with her creating beautiful, tasty and entertaining dishes for their lucky guests. Onwards and upwards for vegan delights at Amilla Fushi.
Last and by no means least is the peerless Soneva Fushi. It was the final stop in our luxury vegan tour of the Maldives and we were eager to experiece what is considered to be one of the finest resorts in the Maldives by many and even one of the finest resorts in the world. Their efforts to lessen the environmental impact are huge and they have been at the forefront of many planet saving initiatives. Soneva Fushi currently recycles more than 90% of their waste and is moving towards zero waste and becoming carbon neutral. There have been no plastic bottles on the island for more than 10 years (way before it was fashionable) and they filter, mineralise, alkalise and bottle their own drinking water. Being eco friendly is in their DNA at Soneva Fushi so it only makes sense that they have opened the first and only 100% plant based restaurant in the Maldives. Eat less meat, save the planet, it makes sense and is oh So Soneva.
When your vegan breakfast is served under the shade of majestic trees, on the pure white sand adjacent to the pristine ocean, life is good. When the plant based options include vegan croissants and vegan fermented coconut butter life is very good indeed. Breakfast at Soneva Fushi also featured vegan Danish pastries from ‘Vegan Corner’ in the bakery, and two of our all time favourite foods; masala dosa from just over the Indian Ocean in Southern India and Hoppers from the even closer home of Sri Lanka. Trust us when we say there was much more on offer, but we were more than content with our croissants / butter / pastries / dosa / hoppers combo. The perfect start to the day.
Vegan restaurant in the Maldives – Shades of Green at Soneva Fushi
This was the moment we had been waiting for, dinner at Shades of Green, the first and only 100% plant based restaurant in the Maldives. This unique farm to table concept is set within an organic vegetable garden and dining here was an experience for sure. We enjoyed home made kombucha shots as we were guided through the organic garden whilst picking, smelling and nibbling on leaves. We were encouraged to forage in the undergrowth to find ‘hidden’ amuse bouche. We were invited to sit around the fire pit awaiting the charred pumpkin which was spiced with Maldivian curry paste. We were offered organic and vegan wines that paired with our amuse bouche. We were in love with Shades of Green. Our multi course meal was served in six categories titled Cleanse, Raw, Crispy, Grain, Fire and Sweet. The dishes were creative and fused Maldivian and Southeast Asian with Nordic culinary techniques such as smoking, pickling and fermenting. The setting was extraordinary. The service was friendly and personal. The food was like nothing we’ve ever tasted before. We were in the Maldives, at a vegan restaurant savouring a plant based meal that we will never forget.
We were blown away with the creative plant based cuisine on offer at these ground breaking luxury resorts. They are certainly leading the way for luxury vegan travel in the Maldives and we thank them for their commitment. Others will surely follow and this can only be a good thing. The Maldives is part of a fragile eco system and anything to lessen the impact of tourism is a good thing meaning not only do these plant based and vegan dining options taste mighty fine they are saving the planet too!
Paul Eyers is Founder of Vegan Food Quest. Vegan Food Quest have become luxury vegan travel specialists as they continue to find, eat and write about the best vegan food in the world.