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.