Today is the final day of the “Phuket Vegetarian Festival”, marking the ninth and final day that I’ve abstained from meat and animal products, in additional to alcohol, drugs and sexual activities (not that I had been engaging in such vice anyway).
While I didn’t go out and get involved with the parades and other ceremonies for which this festival is famous, mostly due to my busy work schedule, I did fully participate in the opportunity for abstinence, as I’ve done every year for the five years I’ve been based in Thailand’s largest island.
For me, it’s not about the spiritual, cultural or health reasons that motivate most participants; well, the latter reason to an extent, as I’m all for embracing the opportunity and challenge to sacrifice meat and animal products for the nine days, being as I consume so much the rest of the year.
That said, these past nine days, I’ve consumed an excess of wheat flour and soy protein – much of it deep fried in palm oil – which is arguably a lot less healthier than my normal meat-based diet (meat wise, I only consume chicken, duck and fish since I gave up red meat two years ago).
While each year it gets easier, psychologically and physically, to complete the nine day challenge of animal product abstinence, it still can be particularly challenging at times.
The hardest part is feeling so hungry (and unusually the other “h” word!) throughout the day, especially during the initial several days. This is not so much of an issue for those who actually go out on the streets, near one of the many Chinese shrines (Saan Jao ศาลเจ้า), where there are plenty of restaurants and stalls serving up some appetizing eats – crispy spring rolls, semi-spicy curries and stir-fried dishes and fried rice galore.
Following are some pics of some of my meals and Veg fest scenes this year; please excuse the low quality, as taken with my Samsung smartphone:
But the best part about the Veg Fest challenge: wrapping it all up tonight with a beer and fried chicken, and perhaps something else 😉