The annual Vegetarian Festival is about to start here in Thailand. It happens every year in the tenth Thai lunar month on the first new moon after the equinox. This year it is celebrated between 26th September and 5th October 2011. Most people make the mistake in thinking that this is a festival only celebrated in Phuket. Although it is true that their version is certainly livelier, it is actually celebrated in many places around Thailand wherever there are large Chinese communities. Samut Prakan is no exception. All through the town we have had large yellow banners hung across the roads for the past week. Also, food stalls selling vegetarian food have been flying little yellow flags. This will now be my fourth year of taking part in this festival.
At school, about 15% of our students and teachers have signed up for vegetarian meals. As well as a vegetarian meal for lunch, the students will have soy milk during break time. Not everyone has Chinese ancestors as there are people like myself who are doing it as a kind of purification of the body and mind. Personally I think it is a great form of detox not to eat animal products for ten days. However, some teachers have already admitted to me that they will probably only do it for three days. Most of them are worried about gaining weight. But this is mainly because of the deep fried snacks. Some of them are very addictive. Strangely, I usually lose weight during this period.
For my preparation I went to Tesco Lotus to see what I could eat. A large section of the supermarket had shelves stacked with food that we can safely eat during the vegetarian festival. It is easy to spot as there are always yellow flags with the word “jay” written in Thai in red letters. In the picture above, you can see some of the things I bought. These include soy bean milk and mama noodles. There were even cup noodles of tom yum with mushrooms and tofu. Last time I also bought plenty of vegetables as I was planning on cooking for myself. However, there are so many food stalls here that are selling vegetarian food that it is usually easier to eat out every day.