Vegetarian Festival in Trang

Every year in Thailand there’s a 9 day Vegetarian Festival, sometimes also known as the ‘9 God’s Festival’ or ‘Tesagan Gin Je’  so we headed to Trang and checked it out.

It’s famously celebrated in Phuket, so most people head there, meaning not many tourists visit the Vegetarian Festival in Trang, but as we have a huge soft spot for the place, it was our first choice of places to go and experience the festival.

The Vegetarian Festival a religious festival where everyone eats ‘jay’ food (which is totally vegan and also contains no onions or garlic). There are ceremonies and daily visits to the temple and all devotees must wear white.

This is the sign to look out for...sort of like a red '17' on a yellow background.

This is the sign to look out for…sort of like a red ’17’ on a yellow background

In Thailand, eating ‘jay’ food is seen to be ‘merit making’ and whenever people hear that we eat a plant based diet 365 days of the year, they always tell us what good people we must be, which is of course lovely.

One half of Vegan Food Quest 'making merit'.

One half of Vegan Food Quest ‘making merit’

It’s funny how in our culture back in the UK, when someone knows you are a vegan they will normally either ask you to solve an ethical dilemma about being on a desert island with only chickens for food.

Or they ask you if you miss bacon, or what you eat and then tell you that they couldn’t possibly give up bacon, or cheese, or both. But in Thailand (as well as other South East Asian countries), people consider you to be a very spiritually good person, which as we said earlier, is lovely.

Like a vegan dream come true, at the Vegetarian Festival in Trang, vegan food is everywhere and even shops that usually serve meat change their whole operation and serve only ‘jay’ food.

New vegan restaurants spring up on the street...

New vegan restaurants spring up on the street…

Deep fried snacks appear everywhere to tempt us, served with spicy, sweet chilli sauce.

Hard to resist a deep fried vegan snack from someone who is so happy.

Hard to resist a deep fried vegan snack from someone who is so happy

Vegan fried food. Mmm...

Vegan fried food. Mmm…

But there is proper, balanced, healthy food too and our local vegan restaurant extends it’s opening hours until late into the evening to cope with the demand from people coming back from the temple and wanting to eat.

Rice, green veg and mock meat from the vast selection that changes on a daily basis.

Rice, green veg and mock meat from the vast selection that changes on a daily basis

And there’s ‘special’ vegan food too. We ate our very first vegan ‘fried egg’, made from tofu that has been deep fried, covered in sweet chilli sauce and served with a sausage on a stick (because we’re in Thailand and it’s important to serve things on sticks here for some reason).

No need for chickens to suffer here, this tofu fried egg was amazing!

No need for chickens to suffer here, this tofu fried egg was amazing!

Also, because it’s Thailand, there’s no shortage of the sweet stuff, from vegan ice cream to sweet pancakes filled with more sweet stuff; dessert is never far away.

Vegan ice cream - yum.

Vegan ice cream – yum

Cute vegan sweeties.

Cute vegan sweeties

Vegans who have a sweet tooth never go hungry in Thailand.

Vegans who have a sweet tooth never go hungry in Thailand

But the Vegetarian Festival in Trang is about much more than just eating vegan food and we got to observe and experience some of the most intense and unusual things we’ve seen on our travels for a long time.

Everyone wearing white making their offerings.

Everyone wearing white making their offerings

Not quite sure what was going on but the chap at the front was possessed I think?

Not quite sure what was going on but the chap at the front was channeling spirits we think?

Imagine incense smoke so thick that you can barely see in front of you, firecracker explosions that take you by surprise, spirit mediums in a deep trance.

At one stage everyone sat down....and waited.

At one stage everyone sat down….and waited

The whole experience really was like nothing we had ever seen before.

The whole experience really was like nothing we had ever seen before

There’s lot of information online about the spirit mediums who are central to the different ceremonies during the festival.

The chap wearing green was certainly possessed....

The chap wearing green was certainly channeling something….

These ‘mah song’ become taken over by ancient Chinese gods and acts of self mutilation are carried out like putting skewers or even larger objects through their cheeks (with no anaesthetic although all claim to feel no pain).

We missed this part of the festival as we were still in Vietnam (eating this amazing vegan meal as it turns out) but at least it gives us an excuse to go back next year.

And then everyone went home...

And then everyone went home…

Check out a selection of other vegan travel blog posts…

2019-03-05T07:22:07+00:00

6 Comments

  1. Katie @WorldWideVegetarian.com November 10, 2014 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    Wow! Look at all that vegan food. I have never seen a vegan egg like that, so crazy. I am glad that vegans are seen as spiritual beings in Thailand, and you are right, what a nice change from the West!
    Katie

    • VeganMush November 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm - Reply

      The egg was unreal and something we have never seen before – sort of a shame we only had one and even more of a shame we didn’t find out how to make them!

  2. eileen November 23, 2014 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    What an amazing place to be at festival time. Worth the journey to have such a great experience.

    • VeganMush November 23, 2014 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      it certainly was amazing and we may well head back next year for more of the same 🙂

  3. ThailandBreeze October 10, 2015 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, choose to visit Thailand during Vegetarian festival! You’ll be in heaven with all kinds of vegetarian food (look for yellow flags). Otherwise, it can be quite difficult with the limited vegetarian food choices other time of the year because there’s usually meat in the food.

    • Vegan Food Quest October 11, 2015 at 12:20 pm - Reply

      It’s great to visit during the vegetarian festival you’re right, but we also find eating in Thailand to be pretty easy as a vegan at all other times… being a vegetarian would be even easier There are always local vegan that restaurants and plenty of naturally vegan food too… we love vegan travelling in Thailand!

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