Vegetarian Festival sets blander menu amid mourning period, higher prices

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Vendors, such as those at Wat Chaimongkol Market, report business remains strong, as do area vegetarian restaurants.
Vendors, such as those at Wat Chaimongkol Market, report business remains strong, as do area vegetarian restaurants.

This month’s Vegetarian Festival will be a bit blander than in previous years, with organizers cutting out entertainment during the end of the royal mourning period.

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Prasit Thongthitcharoen, chairman of the Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan Foundation, told reporters Oct. 14 the Oct. 19-29 festival will not kick off with its traditional parade and entertainment, such as the popular Chinese dragon and lion dance shows, which will be put off until after the Oct. 26 cremation of HM the late King Rama IX.

Other aspects of the annual fest – merit-making, food stalls and more – will go on, as well as an Oct. 26 tribute at 4:49 p.m. The timing will allow people time to travel to Chaimongkol Temple where the main activities in Pattaya will take place.

The theme of the Vegetarian Festival this year will be old times/ancient era and colors will be toned down accordingly.

Of course, there will be plenty of vegetarian food and raw ingredients available, but vegans already are feeling the impact of nationwide flooding in their wallets, with their favorite veggies and dishes costing noticeably more than in previous years.

Quantities have fallen and prices skyrocketed at markets all around Pattaya, as most of the supply comes from the hard-hit Northeast.

Coriander (300 baht per kilogram) and morning glory (70 baht per kilo) have doubled in price while mixed greens and cucumbers have risen even more. Celery has gone from 120 baht per kilogram to 200 baht and mushrooms from 90 baht to 120 baht per kilo.

Still, vendors, such as those at Wat Chaimongkol Market, report business remains strong, as do area vegetarian restaurants.

Eateries along Naklua’s Phognam Road on Oct. 18 reported robust business as diners get a jump on the vegetarian season. The dishes look like familiar meat and rice, but actually are all vegan, including soups, sweets and Issan specialties for 40-60 baht each.

Public-health workers have already been around for food inspections to ensure that restaurants are serving clean, fresh and standard quality food.

In addition, takeout orders are being wrapped in banana leaves, instead of the ubiquitous Styrofoam boxes that end up washing up on Pattaya’s beaches.