Laos was colonized by the French in the late-19th to the mid-20th century and was also devastatingly impacted by the “Secret War,” in which the U.S. dropped more than 270 million cluster bombs on the country. This tragic war makes Laos the most-bombed country per capita in history and there are still more than 80 million cluster bombs in Laos that have not detonated. There are a few grassroots organizations dedicated to fighting for justice for the people of Laos by physically removing cluster bombs one by one.
Despite these tragic circumstances, Khon Lao (Lao people) are resilient and continue to honor Lao traditions, including their food. We hope you enjoy delicious versions of some of your favorite Lao dishes—or try new ones!
Many Lao dishes are naturally vegan, including som pak (pickled vegetables), nam van (sweet water aka coconut dessert), and the staple dish kow niew (sticky rice). Several other Lao dishes can also be made vegan by substituting ingredients and/or eliminating animal products from the dish. This includes other traditional dishes, such as thum mak hung (papaya salad), larb, and khao poon.
Vegan foods do not contain animal ingredients, including “meat,” sea life, eggs, dairy, and honey, all of which are products of suffering and exploitation. Of course, the produce we all eat is picked by farm workers, who often suffer and are treated unfairly, so we need to recognize just how important it is to support these workers whenever possible. Food Empowerment Project continues to raise awareness about the labor conditions of produce workers while simultaneously working with them to advance their rights by supporting corporate, legislative, and regulatory changes. We created veganlaofood.com to be a user-friendly resource for vegans and the vegan-curious alike, as well as the Lao community and beyond. We hope that you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!
Vegan Lao Food is a collaborative effort, and we thank everyone who has contributed: those who submitted original recipes; those who tested recipes; and those who cooked, styled, and photographed each dish!
More about Food Empowerment Project
Food Empowerment Project is a vegan food justice organization that seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices. We encourage healthy food choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the unavailability of healthy foods in low-income areas, unfair working conditions for produce workers, the depletion of natural resources, and the abuse of animals on farms. By making informed choices, we can prevent injustices against humans, the environment, and animals. To learn more about F.E.P., our work, or how to go vegan, please visit our website.
Food Empowerment Project is a vegan food justice organization and a registered non-profit 501(c)(3).