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Vegetarian Food In Thailand

Suggestions And Tips For Finding Vegetarian Food In Thailand  

Thailand is a popular tourist destination, beaches, modern cities like Bangkok, shopping malls, temples and a lot more to see and enjoy. One thing that is not very easily seen is, vegetarian food in Thailand. Most Thais are non-vegetarians, seafood and meat in various forms is easily available. For a vegetarian visitor to the country, it is advisable to have some basic understanding of what to ask for and where to look when seeking Thai vegetarian food. Cookbooks and vegetarian Thai dish recipes are not of much use as, very few tourists actually cook their own food. In this brief article on leisure we will try to provide you with information that will make your search for vegetarian food in Thailand easier. You might want to eat vegetarian food for various reasons, you possibly are a vegetarian or have taken to eating vegetarian food for religious or even health related reasons.

Before we get into the discussion on vegetarian food in Thailand, let us clear the meaning of two confusing terms or words commonly used by the Thais. When you talk about food that is strictly vegetarian, you should use the Thai word 'chay', the 'ch' is pronounced as in the English word channel. The 'ay' is pronounced as it would in the English word hay. Such vegetarian food would exclude all types of meat, seafood and even eggs. It is not uncommon for Thais to exclude dairy products like milk from 'chay' food too. Now comes a bigger word with a bigger scope for confusion, 'monk-sa-vee-raat'. Pronounce monk- as in the English word monk. Sa- is to be pronounced as 'sa' would in the English word saline. Vee- is pronounced much like the English word we but, a bit longer on the 'e'. Finally 'raat' is definitely not like in the English word rat but, rather like 'art' in the English word mart. If you want strictly vegetarian food in Thailand, you do not want to try 'monk-sa-vee-raat' but, should ask for 'chey'. This is because monk-sa-vee-raat Thai food might include eggs, dairy milk, fish sauce and sometimes even fish! You could say that it is a more lenient type of Thai vegetarian food.

Just how easy it is to find vegetarian food in Thailand depends on how far you are from the main cities like Bangkok. Most hotels would be able to understand what you mean by vegetarian food, speak slowly and repeat your words softly if the staff seem confused. Do not forget to keep using the word 'chay' and watch out for them uttering the word 'monk-sa-vee-raat'. Whether in a hotel or restaurant, you can consider yourself to be lucky if the menu has a separate section for vegetarian food. Such an eating place would rarely mess up your order for true Thai vegetarian food. What you need to be more careful about is when eating in a place, where you need to explain that, you need vegetarian food. Some places can make simple vegetarian Thai dishes like, vegetable fried rice, simple soups or sauteed vegetables.

When staying or visiting a place in Thailand outside the cities, you might need to try some innovative ways to ensure that the people understand what you mean by vegetarian food. If you are very strict about eating vegetarian food in Thailand, prepare yourself right from the moment that you arrive at the airport. Note down what exactly you need for example, no fish, no meet, no eggs etc and mention the word 'only' vegetarian on the same paper. Next to find an airport ground staff who does not appear very busy, request him or her to write down what you just wrote but, do it in the Thai language. This is something that you almost certainly need to do if, your first destination from the airport is far away from the main cities.

There is a time in the October-November period when, Thailand celebrates the Chinese Vegetarian festival. This normally runs for around 8 to 10 days and you should find a lot of vegetarian food during such days. Generally food stalls or eating houses hang or place yellow pieces of paper or plastic sheets with the word, 'chay' in Thai during that time. These yellow sheets are cut in a triangular shape and sometimes stuck to sticks to make small flags. Just keep in mind that not all yellow pieces of paper signify, vegetarian food - so make sure that you double check. The good thing about travelling to Thailand during the Chinese vegetarian festival is that, you can get vegetarian Thai food all over the country.

Let us talk about some big and famous eating houses and see what vegetarian Thai food you might get there. For strict vegetarians names like McDonalds, KFC and Chester Grill are a waste of time. You might however be surprised to know that Chester Grill does keep a tiny vegetarian menu ONLY DURING the Chinese vegetarian festival. The big shopping malls like Central, The Mall and Robinson might have restaurants or food stalls that serve Thai vegetarian food. If you enter the mall from the main entrance, you might be lucky to find the reception / information desk to guide you with that. The convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Family Mart and AM-PM would offer little besides bread, chips or roasted nuts. An interesting store is FoodLand, which generally has outlets in localities frequented by foreigners. Some of these do offer some vegetarian food but, it is unlikely to be Thai vegetarian.

We do not expect to live your entire trip to Thailand on fruits but, short term bouts of hunger could be satisfied by eating some of the many fruits available in the country. Fruit juices are available in most supermarkets or convenience stores but, watch the sugar content if you need to take care of sugar levels. Almost every department store or mall that you come across in Thailand will have a supermarket - foodstuffs like bread, butter, jam, fruits, sliced fruits, water, fruit juices and cheese would be available there.

Road side food stalls abound in Thailand, their numbers increase dramatically as it nears lunch time. However if you are looking for strictly vegetarian food in Thailand, avoid such stalls. The sellers are way too busy to work up customized menus for you and it is very likely, that they speak little or no English. You might find some of these stalls selling, sliced fruit and roasted or boiled corn. Though roadside food in Thailand is quite hygenic when compared to similar food in many other Asian countries, do not expect spotless tables, stools or even plates in such places!

If you are looking for vegetarian food in Thailand and cannot seem to get the local people to understand what you need, foreign restaurants might be one place to look for. The staff in most foreign restaurants would be able to speak and understand English, they are more likely to undertand what you mean by vegetarian food. An Indian restaurant in the bustling business district of Silom (in Bangkok) once told us that, many of the foreigners (even non-Indians) who ate there did so because, they wanted authentic vegetarian food. The vegetarian concept with Indians is quite strict because, it is generally related to religious traditions.


We do hope that you have found this article to be interesting and useful. We at Kaisilver are not in any way involved in the food business in Thailand or elsewhere. Our support team ocassionally takes time to compile useful information on various topics. We share this with the general public and feel that it is our way of thanking society and the people in general. We do hope that you have a nice stay in Thailand and will be honored to have you back more often. We have published a more complete report related to Thai vegetarian food, the link below the image shown below will take you to rhe resource.

Some Popular Thai Food Dishes, Cooked In Vegetarian Style

thai vegetarian food dishes, tom khaa in vegetarian format
The very popular Thai Tom Khaa soup adapted to vegetarian style. Some restaurants in Thailand can customize any Thai food dish on their menu to be made as a vegetarian dish. The above Thai soup, is very famous and the white liquid in the dish is coconut milk. The interesting thing about this popular Thai food dish is that, it is served on the table with a burning lamp underneath. Almost the entire cooking process happens right on your table, with the lamp below providing the required heat. You can see more such dishes and also, a complete report on vegetarian Thai food here.



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