Life Life

02/10/2020 - 07:52

Young people choosing vegetarian food

Not only reserved for full moon days, a vegetarian meal is becoming an increasingly popular choice for many people. They view the vegetarian meal as a pleasant choice to achieve relief and peace.

Six months have passed by so quickly. In fact, I don't follow the lunar calendar, so I rarely keep up with the death anniversaries or full moon worship days like my mother and grandmother. It's just that whenever I walk around the market and see the two sides of the road dyed with colors of flowers, I will know, that night, our house will smell of incense. Seeing signs of beef noodles restaurants turned into vegetarian noodles is also an indicator that the full moon has come.

Young people love vegetarian food. Photo: Ha An

Not only reserved for full moon days, a vegetarian meal is becoming an increasingly popular choice for many people. They view the vegetarian meal as a pleasant choice to achieve relief and peace.

When I was a high school student, every time a young person said "I'm eating vegetarian today", s/he always got back surprised eyes and much questioning because it seemed quite strange. 5-6 years ago, vegetarianism among the young existed with such prejudices.

Yet when I grew up, knowing to put my hands in front of my chest to pray in the air of smoky incense and choosing meals for myself or with friends, eating vegetarian food was no longer a strange thing. I mean for myself and my peers. We were just about 20 years old.

Hue is tiny. It seems like going around the city a few times will be enough. Yet, the young people's vegetarian journey is endless. Hoa, my friend, told me that once she didn't know what to eat that day, so she went around the city and randomly chose a restaurant to have a meal. Ever since then, she fell in love with vegetarian food.

Bao Han thought that if we ate vegetarian food, we would quickly get hungry and that vegetarian food could be quickly digested. So at first, her intention when eating vegetarian was to lose weight. However, she quickly got hooked and has been eating vegetarian food a few times each week with a flatter stomach as well…

My young sister often suggested vegetarian food when I asked her to go out to eat with me. As for me, I just enjoy the fun of enjoying a new taste.

Vegetarian dishes are delicious and rich in nutrients. Photos: Tram Nguyen - Ha An

There are many different restaurants serving various different vegetarian dishes. At times I like to go out to eat with my friends at the restaurant, and at other times, I like to go to the pagoda with my mother and grandmother.

On the full moon days, or when the pagoda has an important ceremony, it is very common to see young women, young men in long dresses, or grey robes kneeling, reciting prayers and participating in table cleaning, and eating vegetarian dishes with their mothers and the monks. In the past, at the pagoda meal, I used to go to the kitchen to bring rice, soup to the table, and then help clean up the leftover.

On big worship ceremonies, "buffet at the pagoda" usually includes fried rice, porridge, and all kinds of vegetarian vermicelli. In small offerings, a pagoda meal has only a few dishes of beans, tofu, fried vegetables ... frugal, but still delicious. Despite not being as complete as at home and at the restaurant, the delicate taste of salt, soy sauce or certain kind of vegetarian seasoning powder that is a mystery to me – they just linger on.

In addition to going to the pagoda for vegetarian dishes, the young Hue people also choose vegetarian products suitable for their budget and taste according to their age.

Regarding this topic, Tam and Nha can quickly name restaurants such as "Thanh Lieu, Lien Hoa, Thien Tam, San May,...". Even small food stalls nestled next to the pagoda gates are named.

I'm also at the same young age, so I also often go to these vegetarian restaurants whenever I have time. However, we are still often surprised when seeing heads with dyed blond hair filling up the tables at these restaurants.

Looking around, it is very easy to see everyone happily choosing dishes from the menu and enjoying them. It is rare to see a frowning face due to a lack of shrimp or meat. Indeed, it’s understandable why. The food is delicious. One can get dizzy just by looking at all the numerous dishes offered, from kinds of cakes to hotpot. The price is affordable, only from VND 10,000 to VND 70,000 depending on the dish.

With the "experience" of more than a decade of eating out, 4-5 years of being a vegetarian, I rarely encounter people talking loudly in the vegetarian restaurants in Hue and also in many other provinces. Hue people who often talk loudly will automatically lower their volume to about 3/10 when sitting in front of a vegetarian meal of tofu and soy sauce.

Often, gentle laughs or nodding heads are witnessed. Scenes of people talking and laughing loudly like at the pubs are gone, or they would be reminded immediately to keep the volume down. The peace and tranquility from the pagoda bell, whether heard in the food stalls near the gate or played from the speakers of large and small restaurants, become strangely apparent.

There. Indeed, with such a small "investment" to buy delicious food and tranquility, what else could be better? I do not know what your reasons are for having vegetarian cuisine, or whether they are similar to mine or not. But simply in the land of Old Capital, we have grown up with the teachings of our mother, father, of the sound of wooden tocsin, the smell of incense, the faith and even a little bit of fermented tofu in our body. If eating vegetarian is an option to achieve a peace of mind, isn’t that a wonderful thing...?

By Ha An

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