The Thailand Vegetarian Festival is Here Again

This year the Thailand vegetarian festival will run from 7th until the 17th of October. I’m a vegetarian so this is a time of year that I enjoy. That is not to say that I go to many of the festival activities, but it does mean that there is a bit more vegetarian food floating around. One of the other benefits of this type of year is that being a vegetarian (คนกินเจ Kon gin Jay) isn’t seen as such a strange thing. Most Thai people eat meat; although probably no more than people in the west and less than a lot of other counties.

When I first arrived in Thailand I was a bit surprised to see that people here would eat meat. I imagined that the fact that it was a predominately Buddhist country would mean that meat would be avoided. After all, the Buddha advised that it was not good to harm any living thing; although he did refrain from insisting that his followers be vegetarian. Many Buddhists in the west are vegetarian, but in Thailand most people eat meat. Buddhism does not have a list of sins as such, and when left with the choice of paying some karmic debt for eating meat or doing without it then most Thais choose to take the chance. It is even more problematic for the Thai monks, because they are not really meant to refuse any type of food as this will deny the person offering it the chance to make merit.

History Behind the Thai Vegetarian Festival

The Thailand Vegetarian festival is a chance for people to abstain from harming animals; if only for a few days. The tradition is believed to have originated in China, and it is ethnic Chinese in Thailand who really make the most of the occasion. The time of year that the festival takes place depends on the Chinese calendar, but it is usually around the end of September and the start of October; it lasts for nine days in most places. The biggest and most popular festival takes place in Phuket; it is celebrated all over the country though.

The Thailand Vegetarian festival is a great way to experience all the country has to offer in the way of this type of food. The choice available is impressive and many people find that their favorite Thai dish can taste just as tasty without meat. There are also many new dishes to try. If you are a vegetarian then you will be spoilt for choice during the Thailand Vegetarian festival. If you aren’t then you might start to believe that it isn’t such a bad idea. My wife is great at cooking Thai vegetarian food but we might be eating out a bit more over the next couple of weeks.

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12 thoughts on “The Thailand Vegetarian Festival is Here Again

  1. It’s actually quiet nice, isn’t it? I remember complaining about the lack of vegetables when I first arrived. But the funny thing is apparently restaurants here will serve vegetarian/jay fare for the time following but then will revert to the ‘normal’ menu. Luckily there are some excellent veggie restaurants here. I’m working on a vegetarian only list for CM. I’m not vegetarian per se but I don’t like to eat meat often and I don’t eat pork.

  2. I’ve found problems finding vegetables in many SE Asian countries. Or, perhaps I should rephrase that… I’ve had difficulties finding green veg that I actually like to eat. After years of being a vegetarian, I finally gave up and started eating meat. I mostly eat chicken and fish, rarely pork and red meat. Maybe I should try out the fare at the festival…
    Catherine recently posted..Claudio on Stu’s Cracking Thai Fundamentals

    1. Hi Cat, I went back to being a vegetarian a couple of years ago. I did find it hard in the beginning and for the first year I just lived on the same dishes that I cooked over and over again. Then last year my wife bought a vegetarian Thai cookbook and things haven’t been the same since 🙂 I don’t mind cooking for myself, but my wife seems to have developed a passion for it.

  3. Paul, Duen is about to embark on her two week veggie “pilgrimage” when she doesn’t eat meat. Which makes me smile slightly since she was stuffing herself with all manner of meat stuffs yesterday and will do the same at the end of the festival.

    I enjoy both meat and vegetables, but probably eat more here than I did in the UK.

    I am surprised by the comments about lack of vegetables in Thailand,here in PKK, the central market always has a good range including “greens.”

    Perhaps BKK is different?
    Mike recently posted..Thai Visa-Volunteer Thailand

    1. Hi Cat, the details of the book are
      อาหารมังสาวิรัติ by เฉลิน ศริภิรมย์ (2552)
      ISBN: 978-974-387-124-5

      We purchased it in Asia Book 275 THB
      I think it is part of a series.
      To use a lot of the recipes you need this soy protein meat substitute stuff that you can purcahse in any of the big supermarkets like Carefour – it is kept with dry goods.

    1. Hi Megan, I often think about going vegan but it seems like it would take a lot of discipline; maybe in the future. I hadn’t even thought about going vegan for the time of the festival; something to think about. I suppose most of the dishes are vegan.

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