Fantasy or Reality?
Take a second to imagine this…
Every year in the month of October, an entire country goes plant-based. Every cafe across the country suddenly has a plant-based menu, convenience store bakeries are suddenly plant-based, huge plant-based sections appear at the entrance of every supermarket and dedicated plant-based markets pop up across the country offering vegan noodles, dumplings, burgers and more. We’re talking even 7-Elevens, Dairy Queens and Starbucks.
Sounds like a fantasy doesn’t it? This happens every year in Thailand and has been happening every year for hundreds of years. This is Thailand’s Vegetarian/Jay Festival.
This year’s Dairy Queen Jay Vegan Menu in Thailand
Every year in Thailand millions of people participate in the Jay Festival (Jay food is essentially vegan food minus garlic and onion). People across the country eat strictly Jay food for a period of 10 days, so shops and restaurants have no choice but to accommodate.
For the month of October every year, when the J festival comes around the entire country is suddenly the most vegan-friendly place in the world; it almost feels as though you have stepped into the future.
The World Can’t Just Go Plant-Based Overnight… Or Can It?
When opening a line of conversation about how society needs to switch to a predominantly plant-based food system for the planet, the argument is often that big businesses cannot simply flip the switch and go plant-based overnight. The argument is usually that the change of suppliers, change of recipes and customers expectations would be too difficult and complicated to change overnight.
But every year, when October 1st comes, the switch gets flipped in Thailand. Every restaurant chain, supermarket, convenience store and cafe has suddenly made their standard products vegan, or have suddenly veganised pastries, noodles, meats, eggs, milk, croissants, coffees, sandwiches and entire menus… It makes you wonder, would it really be that hard for the rest of the world to do the same… and to stay this way for good?
Plant-Based burgers by Nove Eats at this years Jay Festival
In many cases, the recipes during Thailand’s Jay season shouldn’t need to be altered that significantly. With so many plant-based upgrades for animal products like meat, milk, cheese and butter, the only thing that would need to change is the supplier for 1 or 2 ingredients.
Furthermore, the jay menus and products presented every year often taste so similar and have the same price point as their animal-based counterparts, in most cases, customers wouldn’t even notice the difference.
What Problems Would This Solve?
Climate change has never been a more urgent topic than it is today, and it gets more and more urgent by the second. The single biggest action we can take to reduce our environmental impact is to switch to a plant-based diet.
Just imagine if all the big restaurant chains, cafes, convenience stores and supermarkets were able to do this on a huge scale, the impact would be enormous. And guess what? Thailand has been proving how instantaneous and easy this shift can be, for hundreds of years.
Thailand might just be the best and most realistic case study and model for a sustainable future of food. So what’s stopping the world from making this simple switch for good to save our planet?