Olivia and Jordi
A Vegetarian Oasis Creating Community Bonds
Being a vegetarian in Thailand is not an easy task. Both the street markets and the restaurants offer a wide variety of dishes, but practically all of them are with meat and / or fish. In very few restaurants you can get to change it for tofu, but you have to do a good search. They are always surprised when you tell them that you do not want meat or fish. The constant “So no meat? Okay so I give you fish!” followed by the confusion of why we would ever want a meal with no meat or fish.
But, as always, there are oases in all parts of the world. In Chiang Mai, a beautiful city in the mountains of northern Thailand, we find a very interesting association: "The Vegetarian Society". This space brings together different local merchants who offer a cheap buffet of vegetarian food cooked with rice and seasonal vegetables from local farmers, thus supporting local trade and food sovereignty. In addition, they have also created a space to sell second-hand goods donated by the people who visit them and invest that money in the association. Along with these two spaces, there is also a store where they sell organic products (oils, natural medicines, coffee, tea, creams, etc.) from different parts of Thailand at very low prices.
As for the buffet area, each person chooses between the different foods and is charged depending on the number of "toppings" he has chosen. Prices range between 15 and 35 baths (40 cents-1 euro), and usually give a piece of fruit or natural juices, depending on their stock. Very close to the food, there are natural drinks made with different medicinal herbs and flowers, offering the option of sweetening them with stevia, at a price of 5 baths only (13 cents). Also, if you arrive before 11am, they also offer milkshakes. That's when you just have to sit down and enjoy healthy, organic and fresh food.
Once you have finished eating, each person cleans their own plates, utensils, glasses, etc. It may seem strange, since we are not used to it, but thinking about the prices of the products and the collaborative essence of the association, one can only surrender to this community feeling. The opening hours are from 6 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday. Therefore, if you are an interested person or curious to know associations that work for the empowerment of their community through the struggle for food sovereignty, by supporting local farmers and traders, and who are concerned about the quality of the products and from their lands, this is the perfect visit. And of course, if you want to enjoy vegetarian food and quality natural drinks, you can not miss it.