Students and professors from the University of Montana learn about how people are dealing with life and livelihoods under dynamic conditions

A Veg-Head in Vietnam

January 15, 2011

Story By Monica Lomahukluh

Photos by Kevin Radley

As a vegetarian it’s hard to find a fantastic cuisine in Missoula, Montana.  The basic restaurants may not even have a vegetarian option.  Most markets carry only a limited amount of items for vegetarians.  Most of my meals come from home–cooked vegetarian recipes because no one can live solely off of grilled cheese with a side of tomato soup.  Now however, my taste buds call Vietnam paradise.

While traveling throughout Vietnam, I have experienced the best curry, fruit and vegetables of my lifetime.  The culture embraces vegetarianism as being a pure soul through Buddhism.  Although most of the people love fish, pork, chicken, and many other types of meat along with vegetables they try to offset the balance by being vegetarian only on the 1st and 15th during the lunar months.  Most monks are vegetarian, as Buddhism teaches a refrain from the act of killing. At times, the religion sees the use of pesticides and tilling as indirect killing and an unnecessary taking of life.

My experience in Vietnam has been amazing.  The country cooks tofu in so many different ways that it blows my mind.  The people are true artists with every meal I have been served.  I have never seen a culture so thoughtful of the presentation of meals.  Every piece of food has a balanced place on the plate. The people truly recognize the harmony of food.

My taste buds will long to be in Vietnam while I am back home eating my tomato soup and grilled cheese.  Thank you Vietnam, for showing me a new variety of cooking and thank you for the fruits that I have never experienced in the United States.   I will be leaving from this beautiful country, not only what my eyes have embraced, but rather what my whole body and soul has experienced.

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