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"Notes for Vegetarians and Vegans" Thailand Favorite Tip by riproy

Thailand General: 598 reviews and 421 photos

Favorite thing: A vegetarian acquaintance said that she started to eat chicken in Thailand because she saw that they were raised ethically (ie free range). True, some are, but the vast majority of chicken available in markets are not raised that way. Thailand went from being a corn exporter to a major Asian importer of corn to feed the growing poultry industry (Thailand is now a large frozen poultry exporter), and the farms are typical high density raising with antibiotics used heavily. The chickens running around villages are a delicacy called gai bahn – less meat but better taste. Unless you are ordering gai bahn, you are getting “factory-style” chicken.
If you are vegetarian it is not hard to eat well in this country (but you are missing out on some wonderful tastes). Veg dishes abound and almost any dish can be made veg. If you are vegetarian, just say that you want your food jay. Add this word to the end of the dish names, like gang pet jay or tom yam jay, and they will bring you these dishes without meat.
There is tofu to be had in just about every restaurant It is called tow hoo. There is also textured protein available which has a pork-like consistancy in your mouth, but it isn't. There is a vegetarian society in Thailand called Mung Sa Weerat that use this a lot. You can usually find that a member has opened up a restaurant in most towns, but they are the type of restaurant that open for lunch only.
Unfortunately in Thailand when you order jay, it also means that you don't want your food very spicy. If you like some heat in your tom yam or whatever, say you want it pet. pet mak means very spicy, pet nit noy means a little spicy. If restauranteurs see that you are foreign, they will tone the spice down for you automatically.

Fondest memory: Being vegan is a little harder in Thailand. Fish sauce is ubiquitous in Thai cooking and eggs are used quite a bit too. Get used to the terms like ahan jay (veg food), mai sai nam blah, (no fish sauce), mai sai kai (no eggs), mai sai ahan telay (no sea food). You have to be vigilant – you can ask for a vegan pad thai and sometimes it will still come with little dried shimp in it. Watch the diet as well, as beans and legumes are not common in Thai cooking (other than yard-long beans which are receivers of heavy pesticide applications, but that’s another story) so keeping protein levels up may be a challenge. Tofu is popular however.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Sep 20, 2002
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