Banh mi can feature different many kinds of proteins. Unfortunately most of the time, people think of Vietnamese sandwiches as meaty affairs. I’ve had people tell me that the ‘usual’ banh mi is filled with grilled pork so why bother with any other kind? Pashaw! Yesterday on the Vietworldkitchen Facebook page, I linked to a Kansas City banh mi round up, which described the sandwich as an often porky affair. The article prompted Arisko Gato to ask if there were vegetarian options. Yes there certainly are. There has to be since Buddhism runs strong in Vietnam. And there are folks like me who regularly enjoy meat-free meals.
In The Banh Mi Handbook, there’s a chapter dedicated to meatless banh mi. The above collage includes most of the recipes in the book. For example, there's a vegan lemongrass sriracha tempeh banh mi recipe from Sriracha Cookbook author Randy Clemens. You can make an edamame pate to smear on your sandwich and layer on slices of baked Maggi tofu. Or try the crusty coconut curry tofu in your banh mi. The mayonnaise and pickle options enable you to vary your sandwich so that you never get bored. All the meatless banh mi were developed for omnivores in mind, not just vegetarians. That’s to say, they’re lovable by all. That’s my approach to vegetarian cooking. It's not about deprivation.