Special Diets In Thailand: Vegetarian, Vegan, Religious And Paleo

It’s possible to have a special diet in Thailand but remember that you’re a guest in another culture and you need to be open-minded and tolerant of theirs first. It’s funny that after being in Thailand, for just 3 months, I would say, “I lived in Thailand”. I believed I was like a citizen and had rights. Now after being here off and on for the past four years, I’ve realized that I’m a visitor (and always will be) and I need to respect that. Not eating pork or being Vegetarian in Thailand is relatively easy especially if you eat eggs. If you don’t eat pork for whatever reason, just learn to order “Gai” which is chicken, and if something is pre-made, just ask, “Gai, Mai?” You can also learn to say, “Mai Ow, Moo” which is “No Want Pork.” The easiest way, no matter what your special requests, is to have someone write it down for you in Thai and show it every time you order food. Have them write down specifically what you can and cannot eat.

Special Diets In Thailand: Vegetarian, Vegan, Religious And Paleo Photo Gallery



If you do it verbally, there is a big chance you’ll get something you didn’t expect but, honestly, you just have to be flexible. The other option is to do all of your own cooking. There are plenty of supermarkets in Thailand and you can buy a stove-top and gas cooking set for less than 1,000 baht ($33US). Cooking your own meals will be the only 100% sure way you’ll get what you expect all of the time. If you choose to eat out at restaurants realize that I get something random that I didn’t expect at least once every two weeks. I usually just try a tiny bit of it and eventually end up eating around anything I don’t like. Not many people know this but I was strict vegetarian for six months. Even after I stopped, during my time at Phuket Top Team I would eat vegetarian for breakfast and lunch every day along with Ilya Grad, who was training there at the time and had just recently won the WMC I-1 Championship at 72kg. We didn’t plan it but after eating vegetarian food every day, we noticed that we wouldn’t be tired, sluggish or need a nap, which gave us more energy to train in the afternoons. I don’t know if he still does it or not, as I haven’t talked to him in a while, but it worked. There are many benefits of being vegetarian and I respect people that are; they’re usually good people who care about animals and the environment.

After doing more research while keeping an open mind I came to realize that life – and food – is all about balance. The reason why I initially stopped eating meat was I found out how factory-farms treat animals and I continued to not eat meat for health benefits as eating vegetarian is healthier than the standard western diet. However, I subsequently discovered it’s not as healthy as eating a sustainable Paleo diet. As a vegetarian you end up eating a lot of pasta, bread, French-fries and other things that are terrible for your health and actually not very good for the environment either. I’ve stopped eating wheat completely, cutting out bread and pasta, and I avoid deep-fried foods. I’m not here to try to change your diet or views, but I do encourage everyone to do their own research and stay open-minded to what they find. I now believe that the perfect diet for your health (and also the environment) as a whole would be a Paleo diet: where 80% of your diet consists of fresh, organic non-Monsanto GMO vegetables, and the other 20% is healthy fat and protein from coconut oil, butter from grass-fed cows, whole eggs from happy free-range chickens, and meat from grass-fed animals with a bit of sweet potatoes added for some healthy carbohydrates. The underlying problem isn’t eating meat or not.

It comes down to money and greed from trying to produce the cheapest meat possible. If everyone stopped eating wheat, sugar, only ate grass-fed beef and truly free-range eggs, we would all be healthier, animals would be treated well and there wouldn’t be this problem. If you are vegan or vegetarian and really want to make a huge difference, lobby your politicians to make all prisons 100% vegetarian. I’m sure people would riot in the beginning, but it’ll also make people never want to go back to prison again. 2,019,234 or so people in the U.S. will be forced to stop eating meat, saving the country money and reducing the amount of animals slaughtered each year by tons. It’ll do 2 million times more benefit than just you not eating meat. Also, if you are vegan or vegetarian for health reasons and you smoke, drink alcohol or eat French-fries, you are simply being hypocritical. Now, I came to Thailand trying to eat healthily but realized that there needs to be a balance.

I don’t drink alcohol, juice, soda or anything with sugar. I don’t eat pizza, pasta or bread. I tried asking Thai restaurants to cook my food with butter instead of vegetable oil, and even went as far as bringing a tub of grass-fed gee (clarified butter) to have them cook with. When it comes down to it, though, the traditional Thai diet is actually pretty healthy, and if you look at most Thai people, they aren’t fat – unless they eat a lot of western food. The reason why I stopped requesting my food to be cooked in butter is first, it’s kind of a pain in the ass and second, it makes the Thai food taste funny. I thought about using coconut oil instead but it would still give the food a unique taste – plus, it’s not practical to carry it around with you all the time. I carry a piece of paper in my wallet that I asked Chon, my trainer at the gym, to write for me. It basically says, “Please use less oil in my food, and also please don’t add any sugar.”

So, now my modified Asian Paleo diet consists of ‘bulletproof’ coffee for breakfast, which you can Google but it’s basically: coffee or green tea, grassfed unsalted butter (you can get Anchor brand in Thailand) and MCT Oil/Coconut Oil all blended together. Sometimes, when I get sick of drinking it, I have a glass of coconut milk instead that I mix with cold water and ice. For lunch and dinner, I have a standard plate of Thai food with a fried egg or two. Usually, it is chicken or pork with mixed vegetables and rice. I make sure to have 2 fish oil tablets afterward to balance out the omega 6 fats from the vegetable oil that all Thai restaurants use. Another more Paleo friendly meal I have is buying ½ a roast chicken from the Chicken stands you often see parked in front of 7-Elevens and Supermarkets. I’ll go into the market to buy a bunch of raw vegetables and then for lunch I would have ¼ to ½ a roast chicken with the veggies. When I have access to a kitchen I simply scramble 4 whole eggs with onions (or chives) in grass-fed Anchor butter and salt which I’d then have for breakfast or lunch. For dinner you can go to Thai BBQ restaurants and have ‘all you can eat’- usually for 129-200 baht ($4.30 – $6.66US). The Japanese-style ones in the mall cost 330 baht ($11US) and are Shabu-Shabu style only, which is where you boil the meat in broth (kind of like fondue). Recently, I discovered ‘nonall you can eat’ versions that have veggies for 10 baht (33cents) and most meat items for 19 baht.

My bill normally comes to around 120 baht ($4US) per person – slightly less than the buffet. The service and food quality, I think, is higher plus you don’t end up over-eating. At the above restaurants you can have just grilled meat and boiled vegetables making it extremely Paleo friendly as long as you don’t use the dipping sauces which contain tons of sugar. Random snacks include Coconut milk and raw almonds for healthy fats. As a treat, I eat a few squares of dark chocolate and, once in a while, I have some fruit which is often cut up in coconut milk. A great (easy) recipe for a delicious healthy dessert is my mango coconut milk tapioca. In a bowl, you just reconstitute some chia seeds into a tapioca-like gel, and then add cold coconut milk and some chilled fruit – I usually use mango, dragon fruit or banana.

This is better for you than just eating the fruit straight. My modified Asian Paleo diet isn’t perfect but it’s cheap, simple, doesn’t confuse Thai people – and it’s healthy. I’ve lost 5kg (11lbs) of fat on this diet (so far) while keeping all my muscle. It tastes great, I have plenty of energy to train hard and, best of all, it’s something that I can get at any restaurant anywhere in Thailand. Plus, it’s so easy to follow that it’s something I can see myself doing for as long as I’m here. When it comes down to it, unless you are willing to cook at home, you need to be flexible and open-minded. *Update: In the past 2 months after starting ‘CrossFit’ here in Chiang Mai I’ve decided not to compromise and started cooking all of my own food. I moved into an apartment that has a fridge and a bar area with a kitchen sink and I’ve set up a stove top which only cost 400 baht ($13.34US). My diet has been eggs, fresh vegetables and meat all cooked in Anchor grass-fed butter. When I feel like I need more energy, I add in sweet potatoes but, in general, have been more-or-less carbohydrate free. Twice a week I will go out to eat BBQ with friends and then I just have grilled meat and vegetables. With this strict Paleo diet I’m feeling even better and have lost a ton of weight and fat around my midsection.

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