Not just a question of taste.
By Dan Johnston
Nowadays there is a great deal of hype supporting the case for more of us to become vegetarians. This is mainly due to pressures that meat production has on the environment, not only due to its production but also the carbon footprint of transporting meat products around the globe That being said, you can gain a wealth of benefits on a personal level, even if you don’t consider yourself to be an eco-warrior. Also, switching to a more veg-based diet may not necessarily mean eliminating meat consumption entirely from your diet.
I have been a full vegitarian on a number of occasions in my life and have, as recently as April this year, reverted back to such a diet. I chose to go back to being a full vegetarian due to the host of benefits I have experienced from this culinary preference..Apart from the elevation of the weight on my conscious from the impact we all have on the environment, for the reasons mentioned before, I feel more invigorated, have more energy daily, am able to focus better and my health has improved enormously – I rarely make trips to the doctor anymore and seldom need any prescriptions.
Although I have seen a sharp improvement in my well-being, it isn’t as easy as simply switching over to eating just vegetables every meal, as there are so many things to consider when constructing a completely vegetarian diet; such as protein, iron and calcium intake..
Fortunately, this is far less difficult in Asia than back in the West due to the long standing cultural traditions of vegetarianism through various forms of Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism – all of which have fully vegetarian sub practices that align with aspects of their religious practices. Whether it is for a season or as a strict practice,. All these religions offer a collection of plates that will keep your diet balanced, ensuring you acquire all the necessary vitamins and minerals you need for a healthy transition.
Then, there are extensive collection of products available from your local convenience store, like the well-known brand of soy milk, who offer concentrations of calcium, iron and proteins needed to maintain such a diet. Talking of produce, the wide range of vegetation on offer across the country for you to chomp on is enormous and eating the recommended seven-a-day is more than attainable with the variety of fruits and vegetables available all year due to the climate.
Local food markets are the best source for a mass of fruit veg that is both locally grown (with infinitesimally small carbon footprints), and guaranteed to be in season. Plus, regular trips to these vibrant places light up the senses beyond imagination and draw you closer to your local community.
If you are a vegetarian already, then you might be aware of the local restaurants up and down the land that serve up only vegetarian food known as Jay Restaurants, Jay being the Thinglish description of the Thai word for vegetarian. So, for example, if ordering food in an establishment that caters to all diets one would explain to the waitress that you are a vegi by saying ‘Kin Jay na kap’, basically translated into ‘Eat vegetarian, thanks’. To ask for fried rice as a vegi, you would say “Kao pat si Jay na kap’, ‘Kin Jay na kap’ and then there is sure to be no confusion. Any food you would want to ask for, you can add that you are a vegi and it will be understood. The only thing you might get quizzed on is if egg is ok ie. ‘Khi mia?’ meaning egg no? Although the spellings of the above might differ from those that our favourite translator would suggest,I find that they work a lot better phonetically and I have used them myself for some 3 years or more.
However, enough of the insider knowledge/survival kit for the pre-existing or budding vegies. Why become a vegi ? Or, like many of the islanders of Greece, reduce your meat intake to just once or twice a week?.
As with previous writings across the pages of the Trader, I could simply list an enormous collection of resources explaining with much accuracy as possible the medicinal benefits of such a transition. Quoting references from the scientific community,nutritionists, biologists, medical professionals and more. However, that would probably just push you to flick over to the next page or, if interested, consume so much of the space I have to propose my lifestyle choice that our editor, Gloria, wouldn’t have the space to fit it in.
The long and short of it is that veggies live longer, have heightened abilities to focus, are generally more successful and have above average IQ’s, the latter being something that is more than adaptable over time with practise, than one would think (a topic for another time), and so much more, including better sleep patterns.
Then there is the case I opened with, which is the conscious choice to reduce your individual impact on the sustained pressures on our planet. I’m not suggesting you read this and then sell your car and purchase an EV replacement or go to even greater extremes such a bicycle but there is an argument as old as time that ‘every little thing you do’…..’
Switching over to a completely vegi diet or even just cutting back your consumption plays its part in preserving the planet which graces us with shelter; for us and future generations to grow. If you’re anything like me, then your inner voice will be shouting back at you now saying ‘How am I going to make any difference, just me?’, ‘I love my bacon butties’, ‘No more Sirloin?’, ‘Don’t they say eggs are bad for you now due to all the antibiotics?’ but as I said, you don’t have to stop eating at all, just cut back and I swear you’ll feel the difference in your mental well-being and your general energy levels almost immediately and as for the eggs, yes they do but that is predominantly in the west. If you buy your eggs from a local market or even from the side of the road, you’ll find that they are birthed from a family-owned collection of hens and in some cases you can even see the coops behind the vendor.
Another blessing from living in such a wonderful country where the inhabitants hold food dear to their hearts and regards it as a central part of the culture is that being a vegetarian or even just eating more fruit and veg couldn’t be easier. It’s relatively cheap and by shopping at markets it helps support your local economy in ways that you would never truly appreciate. This is especially true if you live in a village and even more so if it is one in Northern Thailand as I am experiencing now where I can guarantee that our hosts, the Thai people will thank you for it.