Vegetarian Food

Phuket Tourist Information Guide

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You might not think Thailand would have any vegetarian options, but you’d be wrong! Thailand is a meat-eating nation. Even Buddhist monks at the temples eat pork, chicken, beef, and whatever else is given to them. I think it’s a rule that they cannot refuse what is given. Of course, when they bring the food back to the temple after making their rounds, they can choose which food to eat – so some of the monks DO eat vegetarian food, but at times it is mixed with and touched meat… so, not so strict, but it’s possible.

For a while someone we know was eating a strict vegetarian diet in Phuket, and it wasn’t difficult to find places to eat. There are a good number of veggie only restaurants on the island mainly because of the Jae Vegetarian Festival which is held yearly. During that time, many Thais choose not to eat meat or drink alcohol for the period of the festival. Many little vegetarian food stands will pop-up all over the city to take advantage of this fact – and make some extra money. Other restaurants are always vegetarian, and the thousands of Jae parade-goers know where they are and visit them 'en masse' during the festival.

Some Buddhists will choose to eat only vegetarian food for a certain number of days, weeks or months, so there is always a market for the restaurants. Then too, Phuket receives millions of visitors per year, and with some fraction of them only eating vegetarian – and no meat – these places to eat can stay open year-round and do a decent business.

If you are lost for what to eat, and don’t know where to turn, just head for any open-air market and there will be many varieties of fruit and vegetables to buy, as well as rice dishes with vegetables called “Pad Pak Loo-um,” or noodle dishes with vegetables called “Pad See-yoo Pak.” You may have to emphasize a couple of times to the cook or wait staff that you don’t want meat. You can say “mai ow noo-uh” kup (for men) or ka (for women).

Phuket welcomes vegetarians! Book your ticket!

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