We’re a bit late reporting on this one but it’s still worth mentioning for those of you visiting Thailand this week and next (and in the weeks following too). From October 10th to October the 18th, Thailand has a nationwide vegetarian food festival. The Phuket Vegetarian Food Festival gets most of the publicity, with it’s iconic images of religious devotion and human mutilation (and some very fine grub!).
The Vegetarian Food Festival with coincides with the 9th Chinese calendar month, in which the local Thai people of Chinese ethnicity undertake a ten day vegetarian diet, abstaining from all forms of animal meats and by-products. Various merit-related rituals are performed at Chinese temples, as well as processions of ascetic devotees performing remarkable feats such as fire-walking and climbing ladders with knife-edge rungs.
However, few people outside Thailand realise that this is actually a nationwide festival, with special vegetarian dishes available from restaurants and street vendors across the country. Look out for the yellow flags hanging above street food stalls and shop-fronts – this flag symbolises the fact that special vegetarian dishes are on the menu. Many of the dishes will use soya and other bean-based products as imitation meats, whilst other places go for a full range of vegetable delights.
If you want to read in more detail about Thai Food, and particular hawker and street food, then have a look at the excellent blog called Enjoy Thai Food, where there is heaps of photos and information about the joys of cheap eating in Thailand. I personally spend too much time eating to compile anything as comprehensive as this, so hats off to the creator for finding time between courses. The page on the vegetarian festival is particularly colourful and worth inspecting in more detail, as is the excellent guide to Thai street food.