Vegetarian in Thailand

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  • Every autumn, a bit depending on the Chinese calendar, but always in October, a large vegetarian festival is held in Thailand. From Phuket to Chiang Mai, the emphasis is on dishes without meat and fish. It has been a good custom in Phuket for almost 200 years, where once a company of Chinese opera singers settled down to entertain Chinese workers. After an epidemic broke out and people died, it was thought that this happened because the Chinese had shown too little respect for the gods. Therefore it was decided not to eat meat or fish for nine days each year.

    Every autumn, a bit depending on the Chinese calendar, but always in October, a large vegetarian festival is held in Thailand. From Phuket to Chiang Mai, the emphasis is on dishes without meat and fish. It has been a good custom in Phuket for almost 200 years, where once a company of Chinese opera singers settled down to entertain Chinese workers. After an epidemic broke out and people died, it was thought that this happened because the Chinese had shown too little respect for the gods. Therefore it was decided not to eat meat or fish for nine days each year.

    In Bangkok the party is most exuberant in Chinatown. Yaowarat, the main street is partly closed off for the festivities. There are stalls everywhere with delicacies, there is music (Chinese opera) and a parade.

    Is such a festival necessary, you might think. Yes, I do. Despite the richness and versatility of Thai cuisine, vegetarian dishes haven't gotten a place on the menu everywhere yet. Probably because Thai Theravada Buddhism does not forbid the monks to eat fish, pork and chicken, as long as the animal has not been slaughtered especially for the monks. Thai Buddhists do not assume that Buddha advised against eating animals.

    Still, due to the growing demand, you find more and more vegetarian restaurants (recognizable by the yellow circle with red letters). In addition, if you ask for it, there are always enough possibilities for a delicious meal without meat (and fish). In this way, the versatility of Thai cuisine comes in handy again.

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