5 reasons why Vegetables are an Important Part of Thai Diet
Thailand is a country blessed by an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Navigate a local market and you’ll find a diverse selection of fresh produce in massive quantities. Vegetables as a food group constitute an important component of the Thai diet. They enrich the local diet with essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. As the trend of becoming vegan is growing rapidly, the focus on vegan intake is also growing in Thailand. Several people are considering going vegan for many reasons, whether it is because they advocate ethical treatment of animals or because they are hoping to reap the health benefits of a vegan diet. From acquiring fresh farm vegetables and fruits to getting vegan products like vegan-friendly testosterone supplements, vegan lifestyle is becoming the preferred choice of many. In this article, we bring you five reasons to explain why vegetables are an important part of Thai diet.
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CULTURE AND TRADITION
Thailand has deep ancient roots in southeast Asia and has a diverse relation with many neighbouring countries and cultures. Such rich history has blessed Thailand into developing simple dishes into an art, cooking with all the colours of the rainbow with beautiful presentation, intricately carved dishes, and with a balance between sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and fresh. Thai use many green vegetables in their foods, which are a good source of Vitamin B2, and Vitamin A.. Traditional Thai food is known for its emphasis on regional herbs, spices, and vegetables with impressive nutritional profiles and medicinal elements from herbs. Traditionally most commonly used veggies in Thai meals are non-starchy, such as peppers, tomato, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, and onions. These veggies are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a variety of compounds that contribute to your wellbeing.
HIGH AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND DEMAND
Agriculture is a major contributor in the Thai economy with more than 40 percent of Thailand labour force employed in the farming sector. Thailand ranks among the top of the world’s food-producing countries in several food products such as rice, an important source of carbohydrates, rubber, cassava, potatoes, sugar, coconut, lobster, canned fish products, and fruits. Improvement in agriculture production in the recent decade has also increased demand and consumption. There has been a decrease in the price of agricultural produce as Thai cuisine utilizes vegetables in a multitude of ways: cooked vegetables are consumed as a side dish or mixed in a stew, uncooked vegetables are commonly used as a side dish with variation including fried or baked. Thailand people prefer good quality fruits and green leaves that are available fresh all year long. The consumption ratio of meat and vegetables per meal is favourable towards veggies. Meals are usually consumed with fresh vegetables on the side with dips which can be consumed with a variety of recipes according to one’s taste.
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RAW FOOD MOVEMENT
An interesting development related to veggie consumption, although oriental southeast Asian culture has a history of consuming fresh uncooked veggies in their diet, is a trend known as Raw foodism. It is gathering up followers across Thailand. In simple terms, this is a diet with a high consumption of uncooked, unprocessed, organic gluten-free foods. Raw foods are easy to digest and provide more energy with minimum bodily effort. A raw food diet mainly focuses on eating lots of raw fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. Due to an increase in these diets among the masses, there are restaurants dedicated to serving delicious, fresh, wholesome, organic, vegan meals.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE IN VEGAN DIET
Thai foods are among the healthiest diets in the world. The most commonly used ingredients in Thai cuisine like turmeric, galangal, lemongrass, coriander, and chilies have benefits for a human body’s immune system in fighting off diseases. Thai recipes are usually based on rice or noodles and fresh ingredients, green papaya, lime juice, ground peanuts, spices paste, coconut milk, fish or chicken stock, palm sugar, lemongrass, cilantro, honey, sweet soy, garlic, coriander, basil, etc.
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Here are some of the ingredients widely used in Thai foods and their benefits:
Chili pepper: It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and also helps in our respiratory system because it clears up congestion.
Galangal (Thai ginger): Similar in appearance and flavor to ginger and turmeric roots, galangal is often used in sauces, curry pastes, and dishes like tom yum soup. Test studies show that this root contains compounds that may kill cancer cells.
Black peppercorn: it discourages intestinal gas from forming and helps in breaking down of fats.
Coconut milk: It contains medium-chain triglycerides, fatty acids that help us burn fat. Coconut milk can be found in Thai curries and soups.
Garlic: Garlic is rich in vitamin C and vitamin B6. It improves cholesterol levels and reduces high blood pressure.
Thai basil: the volatile oils present in the herb have many medicinal properties as they are good for digestion, anti-inflammatory, good for skin, etc.
INFLUENCE OF BUDDHISM
With Thailand being a destination for tourists and inspired by its food culture, veganism is becoming more of a personal choice for a healthy life. Many restaurants in Thailand are picking up on vegetarianism and veganism providing a variety of choices as an alternative. One thing that is helping this cause is Buddhism. The first precept of Buddhism is – ‘do not kill’. With the Buddhism population, about 94 percent of the total population and most Buddhist monks practicing veganism, a good selection of Thai cuisine is already available with a vegetable alternative. The expanding popularity of the annual vegetarian festival in Thailand has many people hooked on veggie meals. The benefits of a vegan diet have strongly influenced the people to approach their diet more consciously thus increase the consumption of a plant-based diet.
Vegetables offer many health benefits. And in Thailand, vegetables, as explained, form an important part of their diet and cuisine.