Vegetarian festival in full swing

Vegetarian festival in full swing

Hundreds of adherents in white fill a road as they join a procession carrying a tiger statue from the Chao Pho Sua (Tiger God) Shrine, near City Hall during the annual Vegetarian Festival celebration. WICHAN CHAROENKIATPAKUL
Hundreds of adherents in white fill a road as they join a procession carrying a tiger statue from the Chao Pho Sua (Tiger God) Shrine, near City Hall during the annual Vegetarian Festival celebration. WICHAN CHAROENKIATPAKUL

The nine-day vegetarian festival kicked off last Saturday (Oct 1) and lasts until Sunday. Adherents abstain from all kinds of animal meat and animal products, including fish sauce, oyster sauce, shrimp paste and pla ra.

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Neither fish nor fowl


The yellow flags at restaurants and food stalls all over Thailand signal the start of the annual vegetarian festival, which falls in the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar.

This year, the nine-day celebration kicked off last Saturday (Oct 1) and lasts until Sunday. Adherents abstain from all kinds of animal meat and animal products, even including fish sauce, oyster sauce, shrimp paste and pla ra (fermented fish). Also "off" are eggs, dairy products and honey.

People who practice Chinese-style vegetarianism during the festival must also not consume five plants with pungent odoursgarlic, onion, Chinese garlic (rakkyo), chives and tobacco. These are believed (by Chinese myth) to damage the heart, kidney, spleen, liver and lungs respectively.

Cooks at work in Yaowarat. PATIPAT JANTHONG

Vegetarianism in the 21st century sees huge differences from the old days, where choices of food were limited to tofu, pickled vegetables and mixed vegetable stew, or jab chai.

Today's vegetarianism greatly expands not only in terms of food selection where practitioners can enjoy all types of meat substitutes, mock meat and food innovations, but also in terms of convenience where vegetarian food is available on the shelves of convenience stores year-round.

But besides fine-dining restaurants in shopping malls or roadside food stalls that serve meat-free food during the annual vegetarian festival, there are also vendors and small shops hidden in several markets across Bangkok where vegetarian dishes are freshly cooked and served at affordable prices. Many of these places offer vegetarian food throughout the year.

Life takes a stroll through Bangkok's markets in search of good-quality meatless treats that are not just friendly to the palate but also to the purse.

Yaowarat Old Market

Yaowarat 6 (Soi Itsaranuphap)

Yaowarat Old Market is probably Bangkok's biggest and most vibrant source of vegetarian food, especially during the festival.

Since last week, Soi Itsaranuphap has been transformed into food shops and stalls offering meatless edibles. The street is lined with not just ready-to-eat dishes (mostly for takeaway) but also ingredients for vegetarian food such as mock duck, mock chicken, mock seafood, dried mushroom, wheat gluten products, vegetarian sauces and seasoning powder to name but a few.

This is why the Yaowarat Old Market is flooded with people who come to eat, and restaurant owners who want to buy ingredients for the festival of compassion.

Shops and vendors at Yaowarat Old Market are mostly open all day, from the early morning. But due to high demand during this festive period, a visit before 10am might see a huge crowd. The soi is quite narrow – only a few metres wide – but visitors often have to make way for motorcycles and delivery carts.

This is the nature of this colourful neighbourhood.

A Chinese opera performer with her one-month old daughter behind a stage in Yaowarat. PATIPAT JANTHONG

For 10 days, Yaowarat Road, which starts from Chinatown Gate (Odian Circle) to Chalerm Buri intersection is closed during the evening and becomes a vegetarian food street fair. Among the highlights are fried dumplings, takoyaki (a Japanese snack made from wheat flour and vegetables), deep-friend taro, tofu and spring rolls.

You can see the full story which includes information on the Chatuchak Market, Klong Toey Market and the Huai Khwang Market here:

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  • abstain (verb): to decide not to do or have something, especially something you like or enjoy, because it is bad for your health or considered morally wrong - เว้น,ละเว้น,อด
  • adherent: a supporter of a set of ideas, an organization, or a person - ผู้ยึดมั่น, ผู้สนับสนุน
  • affordable: not expensive - ไม่แพง
  • annual: happening once a year - ประจำปี
  • available: that you can get, use, find or buy - มีอยู่, หาได้
  • calendar: a printed table showing all the days, weeks and months of the year - ปฏิทิน
  • cart (noun): a small vehicle with two or four wheels that you push or pull to transport large or heavy objects on - เกวียน, รถเข็นหรือรถลาก
  • celebration: a party or special event at which you celebrate something such as a birthday, a festival or a religious holiday - การฉลอง
  • chives (noun): the long thin leaves of a plant with purple flowers. Chives taste like onions and are used to give flavour to food. - พืชคล้ายหัวหอม,หอมเล็ก
  • compassion: a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering or bad luck of others and a wish to help them - ความเห็นใจ, ความรู้สึกเศร้าใจไปกับความทุกข์ของผู้อื่น
  • consume: to eat, drink or use something - บริโภค
  • convenience: the quality of being suitable for your purposes and needs and causing the least difficulty - ความสะดวกสบาย
  • convenience store: a shop/store that sells food, newspapers, etc. and often stays open 24 hours a day - ร้านสะดวกซื้อ
  • dairy: made from milk; connected with the production of milk rather than meat - เกี่ยวกับผลิตภัณฑ์นม ผลิตภัณฑ์ที่ทำจากนม
  • demand: the amount of a product or service that people want - ความต้องการ
  • dumpling (noun): a small ball of dough (= a mixture of flour, fat and water) that is cooked and served with other dishes - เกี๊ยว
  • edible: fit or suitable to be eaten; not poisonous - ซึ่งกินได้
  • expand: to make or become larger - ขยาย
  • fermented: changed chemically through the action of living substances, such as yeast or bacteria - หมัก
  • festival (noun): an event that is held to celebrate a particular thing or activity - เทศกาล
  • festive: connected with a festival or celebration - รื่นเริง, เกี่ยวกับเทศกาล
  • fish sauce (noun): a salty, brown liquid made from fish that is an important flavoring ingredient in Thai food - น้ำปลา
  • flood: to go in large numbers - เข้ามาอย่างท่วมท้น
  • flour (noun): a fine white or brown powder made from grain, especially wheat, and used in cooking for making bread, cakes, etc. - แป้งทำอาหาร
  • fowl: a bird that is kept on a farm for its eggs and meat - สัตว์ปีกที่เลี้ยงไว้ใช้เป็นอาหารในครัวเรือน
  • garlic: a vegetable of the onion family with a very strong taste and smell, used in cooking to give flavour to food - กระเทียม
  • highlight (noun): the most exciting, impressive, or interesting part of an event - จุดเด่น, จุดสำคัญ, เหตุการณ์สำคัญ,
  • huge: very large - ใหญ่โต
  • in terms of (idiom): regarding; used to show what aspect of a subject you are talking about or how you are thinking about it - เกี่ยวกับ, เกี่ยวข้องกับ
  • ingredients: foods that are used with other foods in the preparation of a particular dish - ส่วนประกอบ
  • innovation: the introduction of new things, ideas or ways of doing something; a new idea, way of doing something, etc. that has been introduced or discovered - นวัตกรรม, การคิดขึ้นใหม่, สิ่งที่นำเข้ามาใหม่
  • intersection: a place where roads, lines, etc., join or cross each other - สี่แยก
  • kicked off: began; when an event begins or is launched - เริ่มต้น, เริ่มทำ
  • kidney: one of the two organs in your body that clean your blood and remove waste - ไต
  • last: to continue for a particular length of time - กินเวลา
  • limited: stopped from increasing beyond a particular amount or level - ถูกจำกัด
  • liver: a large organ in the body that cleans the blood and produces bile - ตับ
  • lunar: of or relating to the moon - เกี่ยวกับพระจันทร์
  • lungs: the organs in your chest that fill with air when you breathe - ปอด
  • make way for (verb): to change things so that something that is waiting to happen can happen; remove obstacles or impediments so something can pass - หลบสิ่งกีดขวาง
  • mock: not real, but intended to seem or look real - จำลอง
  • mushroom: a fungus (a type of plant) that usually has a short stem and a round top. Some mushrooms can be eaten, but many are poisonous - เห็ด
  • myth (noun): an ancient story or set of stories, especially explaining the early history of a group of people or about natural events and facts - นิทานปรัมปรา, ตำนาน
  • narrow: not wide; having a small distance from one side to the other, especially in comparison with the length - แคบ
  • nature: the basic quality of something - ธรรมชาติของสิ่งต่างๆ
  • neighbourhood (noun): a particular area of a city or town or other area - ละแวก, ย่าน
  • odour: a smell, often one that is unpleasant - กลิ่น
  • oyster sauce (noun): a dark brown sauce made from cooking oysters - น้ำมันหอย
  • palate (noun): the top part of the inside of the mouth; the ability to recognize and/or enjoy good food and drink - เพดานปาก, ความรู้สึกในการรับรส
  • pickled vegetables (noun): sour vegetables prepared and preserved in vinegar and salt water - อาหารดอง, ผักดอง, ของดอง
  • practitioner (noun): a person who regularly does a particular activity, especially one that requires skill - ผู้ปฏิบัติ, ผู้ประกอบกิจ
  • pungent: describes a very strong smell or taste, sometimes one that is unpleasantly strong - ฉุน
  • purse (noun): a small bag made of leather, plastic, etc. for carrying coins and often also paper money, cards, etc, used especially by women - กระเป๋าใส่เงินขนาดเล็ก
  • respectively: in the order in which they were mentioned - ตามลำดับ
  • seasoning: substances added to food to improve its flavor - เครื่องปรุงรส
  • selection: choice; the process of choosing - การเลือก,การคัดเลือก
  • shelf (plural: shelves): a flat board, made of wood, metal, glass, etc, fixed to the wall or forming part of a cupboard/closet, bookcase, etc, for things to be placed on - หิ้ง, ชั้น
  • snack: a small meal or amount of food, usually eaten in a hurry - อาหารว่าง, อาหารเบาๆ
  • source: the place something comes from or starts at, or the cause of something - แหล่ง, แหล่งกำเนิด
  • spleen (noun): a small organ near the stomach that controls the quality of the blood cells - ม้าม
  • spring roll (noun): a type of Chinese food consisting of a tube of thin pastry, filled with vegetables and/or meat and fried until it is crisp - เปาะเปี๊ยะ
  • stall: a large table or a small building that is open at the front, used for selling things (or for giving people information) - รถ หรือแผงขายของ
  • stew: a dish of meat or vegetables cooked slowly in liquid in a container that has a lid - อาหารตุ๋น,อาหารเคี่ยว
  • stroll: walk in a slow relaxed manner, especially for pleasure - เดินเล่น
  • substitute: a person or thing that is used instead of another person or thing - คนหรือสิ่งที่เข้าแทน
  • taro: a starchy vegetable that looks like a potato - เผือก
  • tobacco (noun): a substance that people smoke in cigarettes, pipes etc - ยาสูบ
  • tofu (noun): a soft white substance that is made from soya and used in cooking, often instead of meat - เต้าหู้
  • transform: to change from one form into another - เปลี่ยนไปสู่อีกสิ่งหนึ่ง
  • treat: something very pleasant and enjoyable, especially food - อาหารที่น่ารับประทาน
  • vegetarian: containing only vegetables and no meat - เจ
  • vendors: people who sell things, e.g., food or newspapers, usually outside on the street - พ่อค้าแม่่ค้าหาบแร่แผงลอย
  • vibrant: lively and exciting - ซึ่งมีชีวิตชีวา
  • year-round: doing for the whole year without stopping, without a break -
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