Gallery: Ditch those steaks. The Bangkok Vegetarian Festival is underway
The Bangkok Vegetarian Festival is in full swing so good luck finding a nice bowl of duck soup in Chinatown these days. Every year during the 9th Chinese lunar month (October 17-27, this year), Thailand’s Chinese communities come out to celebrate the 10-day vegetarian festival.
It’s thought that the festival began in the early 1800s, when a troupe of visiting Chinese opera singers got sick and decided to give up meat for 10 days to get better and atone for ignoring their religious dietary beliefs.
Skip forward a couple hundred years, and many Thais -- even some non-Chinese -- take this opportunity to purify their body by cutting meat out of their diets.
While not as extreme as the heavily publicized Phuket Vegetarian Festival, Bangkok’s Chinatown during this time is nonetheless a vibrant and exciting place to be, a huge mishmash of color, smell and ceremony. (See above gallery.)
One of the best places to see this in action is Talad Noi, a little community, just south of Chinatown veined with tiny alleys, that heaves with crowds during the festival.
When it comes to cuisine, this is the best time of year for full-time vegetarians as supermarkets, shopping malls and even roadside stands all over the city put up little yellow flags to signify they are selling 100 percent vegan cuisine. Even the ubiquitous bottle of fish sauce gets put away for the 10-day Bangkok Vegetarian Festival.