Being Vegetarian in Bangkok, Thailand


I’m a spoiled American. There is so much food selection in America I can make a choice in what I consume. I live a very privileged life where I can choose to not eat meat to make an environmental and social impact. I’m also privileged to travel around the world. These privileges sometimes clash but I’m here trying my best to be a vegetarian and a respectful traveler.

The big thing in Thailand is street food.  Every where there are small stalls and carts cooking fresh amazing food. Going to Thailand, you can’t avoid street food, it’s delicious, it’s how locals eat and it’s stupid cheap.

So far in Thailand it’s been hit or miss. I got soup I thought was eggplant curry but it was fish. I’ve had pad thai and I found a small fish head in one then another had shrimp in it. Last night I ordered soup and I tried to clarify: no meat, only vegetables and what is in this? They said tofu. So I got the soup and it probably had chicken broth and definitely had meatballs. In all incidents I did not return my food. In a culture plagued by poverty I’m going to be grateful I can afford to have three meals a day. I did pick out what meat I could. Sometimes I ended up eating some of the meat. I did feel a little frustrated I couldn’t keep my strict vegetarianism. At the end of the day, as long as I am fed and not sick I will continue to eat street food.
While vegetarianism is important to my identity, I am more concerned with respecting the culture I am visiting. Many people may disagree with me on how I handle vegetarianism abroad but it doesn’t matter. Everyone travels different and the most important part of being a traveler is respect. I will try to communicate my needs as best I can and try to find food that won’t make me sick. Until then I’m going to enjoy this beautiful culture.




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