It is not unusual for Thai’s to turn vegetarian at some point in their lives. There are a large number who stop eating meat for their entire lives. However, it is more common for them to do it on a temporary basis. Most Thai’s become vegetarian or mang sa wirat in Thai, as a way of cleaning their body after being ill or sometimes as a way of improving their karma.
Phuket, like most Thai cities, is a city of food and it’s not really known for its vegetarian dishes. However, if you’re one of the Westerners who’s brought your vegetarian diet with you, getting meatless meals is easier than you think. Among the chicken, beef, pork and seafood dishes, there are a number of vegetarian options for you to discover. Thai dishes, along with the people who cook them, are very adaptable for different tastes, flavours and dietary needs.
When it comes to restaurants, the best or safest options for vegetarians are Indian and Chinese restaurants and the noodle shops, which can be found on nearly every street on the island. Indian restaurants have to have vegetarian dishes for their Hindu guest, whilst Chinese restaurants have Chinese Buddhist customers who also need to keep to their strict vegetarian diets. The Noodle shops are a great option as their dishes are cooked in front of you and you can tell them exactly what you want or don’t want in your meal.
There are two very good Thai vegetarian restaurants in the heart of Phuket Town. Ruam Jai and Hoesan on Ranong Rd are popular and clearly labeled, serve a buffet style breakfast and lunch (both close around 4pm). Choose from different Thai-Chinese style veggies and curries to go with your steamed rice or opt for a noodle dish. The staff at both places is friendly and can point out which dishes are spicy and which are not.
Meals are around 45/50 baht per person.
If you really want to try out some of fantastic Thai dishes which usually use meat as part of a dish, the meat can easily be removed, or substituted for tofu, egg or another vegetarian protein. Here we give you some of the most popular dishes that are full of flavour, spice, and aroma!
Phuket Vegetarian Festival: 15-23 October 2012
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is an annual event held during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that the vegetarian festival and its accompanying sacred rituals bestow good fortune upon those who religiously observe this rite. During this time, local residents of Chinese ancestry strictly observe a 10-day vegetarian or vegan diet for the purposes of spiritual cleansing and merit-making. Sacred rituals are performed at various Chinese shrines and temples and aesthetic displays such as walking barefooted over hot coals and ascending ladders with bladed rungs are performed by entranced devotees known as “Ma Song”.
Throughout the festival hundreds of food stalls will sell a variety of vegetarian food such as curries and sweets, noodles and more. Many restaurants will offer special vegetarian menus and many stop selling meat. Participating restaurants will fly a yellow flag showing their participation in the event.
10 RULES FOR THE VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL
- Cleanliness of bodies during the festival
- Clean kitchen utensils and use them separately from others who do not join the festival
- Wear white during the festival
- Behave physically and mentally
- No meat eating
- No sex
- No alcohol
- People mourning should not attend the festival
- Pregnant ladies should not watch any ritual
- Ladies menstruating should not attend the ritual