If you spend any time in Vietnam, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find a banh mi stall nearby. Literally translated as “bread”, banh mi is a tasty and affordable sandwich often eaten for breakfast or a snack. Made with fresh baguettes and pâté brought over by French colonists, banh mi is not only a fusion of cultures, but also of flavours. People absolutely love banh mi, so much so that this food item was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011. What started as street food in the late 1950s in then-Saigon has permeated into other countries, brought by Vietnamese immigrants after the fall of the city. The banh mi is so exquisite and delicious because it’s an explosion of tastes. With a soft, yet crunchy baguette filled with pickled veggies like carrots and radishes; juicy meats such as pork sausage, cold cuts, and meatballs; spicy sauces like chilli and mayonnaise; and delicate herbs such as coriander, banh mi is customisable and accessible to everyone. Going vegan: first steps – and why more of us are making the switch The vegan banh mi in Vietnam Although traditionally a meat-heavy food item, the baguette sandwich is often enjoyed in chay or vegetarian circles. Vietnam has a large Buddhist population, so the sandwich has been traditionally prepared at temples. These days, you’ll find vegan banh mi all over the country, feeding not only local vegetarians but also the hordes of vegan tourists who (pre-Covid-19) visit Vietnam in large numbers. According to Grace Nguyen, founder of vegan restaurant Karma Waters who now lives in Hong Kong: “Vegan banh mi is even more delicious because there’s no animal cruelty involved.” She uses shredded tofu and soy curd ham at her restaurants in Hoi An and Da Nang. According to Grace, the key to a fantastic banh mi is the sauce – and the home-made vegan barbecue sauce used in her sandwiches speaks for itself. 7 best vegan restaurants in Metro Manila Visit Hanoi’s famous Bánh Mì 25 and you’ll see a huge queue across the city’s old quarter, with demand so high that the overflow of customers has spread to multiple locations. This street stall has a separate vegan banh mi menu that caters to tourists with ingredients like stir fried garlic oyster mushrooms, avocado and home-made vegan pâté. In Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll find entire restaurants and street stalls purely dedicated to vegan banh mi. Chaystation boasts vegan fillings such as tofu sausage, dried papaya salad and roasted tofu. Fingerprint Vegetarian Bánh Mì offers ultra-realistic mock meats with vegan “fat”, deep fried mushrooms, fermented pomelo skin and a home-made vegan mayonnaise. 6 traditional Japanese dishes that vegans can try in Kyoto Worldwide explosion One of the reasons Western countries have been quick to adopt this remarkable sandwich is the familiarity of its ingredients – most Westerners are already fans of fluffy bread, cold cuts and creamy sauces. Today, this means that foodies no longer need to travel to Vietnam to get their banh mi fix. For vegans, the options are endless. For faux meat lovers, Just Green in Sydney offers a vegan banh mi with shredded tofu, vegan chicken, and vegan pork wedged in between all the usual fixings. For American veg heads, Xe May Sandwich Shop in New York City has a healthy version made with soy glazed portobello, spiced tofu and a vegan cauliflower spread. View this post on Instagram A post shared by BOMB ASIAN FOOD. ALWAYS VEGAN (@eatchayclub) on Dec 18, 2019 at 12:30am PST There’s even a Korean take on the banh mi. Eat Chay in London’s trendy Shoreditch has a tasty option with bulgogi barbecue seitan, kim chi and vegan sriracha mayo. A quick look at this all-vegan eatery’s Instagram and the banh mi will have you drooling. Even if you’re a major meat eater, you cannot deny that the evolution of the vegan banh mi is impressive. With innovative and tasty toppings, this ever-changing sandwich is giving major food envy to omnivores and vegans alike. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .