Veganism: a Comparison Between Thailand and America

ka-phun-ka-chinatown-bangkokRainy dinner, Chinatown, Bangkok

Thailand: the land of smiles and flavours. In any given meal, a Thai tongue seeks to taste salty, savory, sweet, and sour all at the same time. Markets offer fresh fruit and vegetables (what a novelty compared to the GMO-ridden produce of the United States), as well as seafood that has been caught a couple hours earlier. American food is bland, dull and uninteresting in comparison (not that I eat “normal” pizza or cheeseburgers anyway).

morning-veggies-som-lom-thailand_-copy-2A morning market at Som Lom

However, Thai people also eat lots of meat- practically at every meal! Usually it is made up of chicken, cow, and mystery meat;). But being in the city of Bangkok, I have yet to see any of these animals. Which begs the question: where do they come from?

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Pig Heads, Ban Tai

Similarly as in America, Thai meat is produced in the countryside in large slaughterhouses that mistreat animals and cause environmental degradation and pollution. According to The Guardian, in June, Thai police found a tiger slaughterhouse used to raise tigers for their skins on the black market. The act of raising animals unjustly for human consumption is equal in both countries, although Thai people eat more seafood, leading to less of a demand for meat than in the US.

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Chili crabs at the floating market

According to Forbes, America is the second largest meat consumer in the world after Australia. Reducing our meat intake is the most environmentally conscious action we can take to reduce our carbon footprint. That, combined with how energized I feel when eating vegan, and how great I feel about not mistreating animals, is why I have been vegan for a year and a half. Interestingly, under Buddhism one must not harm any living creature, yet Buddhists eat meat (so they must harm these animals which they eat).

black-chicken-ban-tai-thailand_Black Chickens, Ban Tai

In regards to the ease of being a vegan, I would say that it is about equal in Thailand and the United States. It has been more difficult for me in Thailand because I cannot fluently speak Thai, and it is therefore difficult to communicate my dietary needs because all I can say is “jay”, or “vegan”, but often the Thai people are not familiar with that word. It is not popular for people to not eat meat or animal products here; there is fish sauce in most stir fry and curry, and almost always milk in coffee. “Thai sweet” describes how drinks such as coffee and tea are served here; sugar with a little bit of liquid.

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Jay pad thai with tofu, one of my favorite dishes near our dorm, Green Park

However, I have found a few places where I can eat “jay” and the workers remember me and make delicious vegan options! Above is from pasta lady, a wonderful woman near our dorm Green Park who makes delicious noodles. Pad Thai with fresh peanuts and lime juice is hard to beat.

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Yum, Chinatown, Bangkok

In America, being a vegan is much easier in some instances. Living in Los Angeles, I was constantly surrounded by healthy, vegan food options (ironically, most of what I ate was vegan Thai food). Even back home in Maryland during the summer, we grow corn and zucchini in our own garden. However, if one is living in a food desert in a city like Baltimore, then they will not be able to have ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

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Ladies sell their fresh seafood at a local floating market.

But regardless, in most American cities one can purchase produce from a local supermarket or Walmart. I am greatly missing kombucha from back in the states, but have been enjoying the delicious desserts that make use of lots of sweet rice and coconut milk. Thailand offers many vegan desserts, while in America it is difficult to find enjoyable ones unless made at home or living in an urban place.

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Delicious, Chinatown, BKK

Mango sticky rice and coconut pudding, both delicious vegan desserts, Chinatown.

West Trippin’

During a break between festivals a couple of weeks ago, my friend Dani who had been at my college in Maryland for a bit came and picked me up from Vegas. We drove through the Grand Canyon and Arches National Park in Mohab, Utah, before arriving at our final destination in Boulder, Colorado. Mohab was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and being a desert person I could totally see myself migrating there for a bit and enjoying their yuppie community they have there. Sometimes sleeping in the car and driving for hours with no clear destination is what you need to escape from the crazy that is Los Angeles.

San Francisco Pride

I am so grateful for all of the love that I experienced in San Francisco at Pride! Many people said that there were much less people because of the incident in Orlando, which is hard to believe because of how many people were there! It’s such a beautiful thing to experience people loving and appreciating each other regardless of  sexual orientation, race, class, and what is considered “normal” (there is no such thing).

Transcendence: Lightning in a Bottle

One of the coolest festivals I have worked because of the wide variety of people and art present, as well as the huge stage and set work built by the amazing Do Lab! Although I enjoy Woogie Weekend more because of its smaller size, LIB was nothing short of entrancing. Below I have combined photos that I took at LIB and snippets from the Hinduism teachings I experienced in my semester abroad in India for a lovely read:)

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TimeisFake, LIB, Bradley, CA

“Moksha” is the liberation, cycle of rebirth recycled physically and spiritually, liberation in this life and after life/death, have to fulfill dharma in this life to have a good one next time, freedom from bondage, you are one and the same with the world, vice versa, used in Hinduism. LIB represents the freedom to express yourself in any way you want for a few ways, making you a better person than you were prior to attending. Grateful. I wish that I had had more time to take more pictures when off work, but this will suffice. Until next time:)

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PretzelMan, LIB, Bradley, CA

Anu means “the love between us”

thewasteland
TheWasteland, LIB, Bradley, CA

We have too long looked to people of the past; we must now move forward with our own ideas as we face a new world every second of everyday.

woogie
Woogie, LIB, Bradley, CA

“Each and every day I am, too, learning”

taco
Taco, LIB, Bradley, CA

Knowledge and education are more important than wealth will ever be.

whatislove
WhatisLove, LIB, Bradley, CA

Story: a teacher (guru) told his students to bring back a plant that has no medicinal purpose. Many came to him, but finally one student returned with no plant, saying, ” I couldn’t find a single plant with no medicinal properties”. He was right.

sunrise trailer
sunrise trailer, LIB, Bradley, CA

All knowledge is simply a drop in a larger ocean, finding the good in every person leads to helping change their minds

wetrippy
wetrippy, LIB, Bradley, CA

our human lifespan is very small, making us unreal from the real we experience (they are both connected) . After death there is nothing, but the memories are unreal. from the unreal, we are led to the real

warrior
warrior, LIB, Bradley, CA

Everything has an opposite reaction, and by managing our mind we are able to create our reality and our connection between what is real and unreal

vinewalk
vinewalk, LIB, Bradley, CA

lifestyle disorder- the way we live our lives determines our health

sunrise pano
sunrise pano, LIB, Bradley, CA

“There is no meditation without wisdom and vice versa, one with both can attain peace and happiness easily”

sunrise heart
sunrise heart, LIB, Bradley, CA

A constant balance between being and becoming

starz
starz, LIB, Bradley, CA

A meditator will have empathy, kindness, bring harmony, are selfish because they are so fond of themselves and know that negativity will only hurt them, selfish to make themselves happy, therefore making others happy and knowing how to get into other people’s minds to make them happy

stage
stage, LIB, Bradley, CA

When you love yourself, you are like the ocean- accepting anyone and everything, vast and infinite all the time, practice is essential

soulman
soulman, LIB, Bradley, CA

“the mind can be a cruel master and a faithful servant”

sleepysunrise
sleepysunrise, LIB, Bradley, CA

Human life is a struggle to exist and understand the consciousness; the human personality is a staircase, with the lower rungs of ego known and open and the higher areas not yet explored (ability to become invisible- highest state of consciousness)

shrooms
shrooms, LIB, Bradley, CA

disassociation of awareness: obstructions in the mind which prevent the free flow of awareness, conflict between desire and need, true freedom lies in detachment from desires and memories

sellasell
sellasell, LIB, Bradley, CA

yoga is the journey of the self, to the self, through the self (action/selfless service karma, devotion khati, mind control raja, knowledge jnara)

r00f
r00f, LA, CA

samadhi- the super consciousness of experience, sublime, the goal of existence

praise
praise, LIB, Bradley, CA

they who attain freedom are free of delusion

noodle
noodle, LIB, Bradley, CA

In the act of creation, the mind becomes one in the subject and object with no separation between them, unity between the soul and mind which produces true art

mollay
mollay, LIB, Bradley, CA

Today’s action determines tomorrow- if you want to change tomorrow, then you must change your mode of actions TODAY

h00pa
h00pa, LIB, Bradley, CA

10 sins: killing, theft, gossip/prostitution, irritability, lie, no irritating anyone, craving/greed, not helping others when you can, acknowledging the beauty in fellow animals/humans

godiisa
godiisa, LIB, Bradley, CA

evolution- 5 sense organs, 5 motor organs, 5 subtle elements, 5 gross elements

feelnow
feelnow, LIB, Bradley, CA

chittavirtti- modification of the mind

euphoria
euphoria, LIB, Bradley, CA

Must remove memories to reach a higher state, limitations: ignorance, ego, thirst for possessions

divinity
divinity, LIB, Bradley, CA

cosmic order- when we do bad things (such as kill), we throw that off of balance

dance
dance, LIB, Bradley, CA

karma- duty in life to be rewarded when you die

craylights
craylights, LIB, Bradley, CA

happiness is not a thing, but rather a state

bunnyfoofoo
bunnyfoofoo, LIB, Bradley, CA

suffering is a result of too much want

buddha
buddha, LIB, Bradley, CA

8 Mantras for Hump Day

Another Wednesday – getting through a week of work that may seem endless, stress that may seem pointless, and conflict that is eating up your energy. Finding happiness in the simple is essential for moving forward! I have to put together some thoughts during my recent times of stress from moving across the country that have kept me going:

Palmz
Palmz, Trivandrum, Kerala

2. Appreciate the beauty in every being. Everyone has a purpose to fulfill, and we must appreciate their path. We must constantly act as both teachers and observers for every interaction we have with everyone we come into contact with. That homeless man might just have some great tips on how you can be less of an asshole today.

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RiversideMorning, Riverside, CA

3. Appreciate the beauty of yourself and recognize that your beauty resides in all other things as well as yourself, so that the world, as a whole, is beautiful and as worthy of appreciation, just as you are. Failure to recognize self worth is often what leads people to undermining themselves and prevents them from moving forward into self growth. Embracing the elements that make you different from any other person will bring you strength.

SunDown
SunDown, Trivandrum, Kerala

4. Find the gifts and talents which have been bestowed upon you by practicing what you love. Allow this love to guide you on the path which will bring love and light both to yourself and others. Yes, money is the root of desire and evil in the real world, but it must also be acknowledged as a source of restoration for positivity by placing funds in the hands of people who will share it.

ArrowheadJPG
Arrowhead, Kumily, Kerala

5. Recognize that others will doubt your purity and the extent to which you are able to do anything which the mind creates. Allow your dreams to prod you forward, reacting to negative influences with positivity to allow the growth of both yourself and others.

Birthdaybr33zzyy
Birthdaybr33zzyy, Venice, CA

6. Do not be intimidated by the prospect of lost opportunity, or failures that you may have. Focus on what you want everyday to achieve that- it will always happen, but not as you plan it. Fate chooses what will best serve the universe. The law of attraction will bring you all of your desires- you must just have trust in its omniprescence. “I know where I’m going, I just don’t know how I will get there”.

Blades
Blades, Venice, CA

7. This is especially true of love: you must appreciate how beautiful you are, your partner is, and the entirety of you together with mutual understanding. By straining to make a relationship work and being anxious about whether or not someone likes us, we continuously put stress on ourselves and force ourselves into relationships with people that may not always be constructive.

G0ldeneye
G0ldeneye, Kerala

8. Appreciate the beauty of all things constructed by man- although most of it is detrimental to the Earth’s well-being. This has happened for a reason: we must see the pain that can be felt in the world before we can reconcile with each other and realize how beautiful it could be instead. Whatever the object may be, it was created by a combination of animals and nature, it just as much a part of us as we are of it. Objects define us: how can we use this to our advantage and change the way in which the objects we have created define the world?