“Tôi ăn chay,” I said, sitting at a shinning metal stool at one of the many local food stalls during a lunch break from the CELTA course. This short phrase (which is pronounced like “toy on jey”) has been indispensible for me, because it means, “I am vegetarian.”
Being a vegetarian in Vietnam is fairly easy, but you just need to know how to order. Unfortunately, I’m still working on that.
I love getting local food, and depending on where you go, all you do is designate beef, chicken, or seafood, and a dish with your selection will be delivered to you. This time, unfortunately, I got what I asked for.
My friends received dishes loaded with beef, veggies, and greens. My dish was a plate of rice served nearly naked, save a few sprinkled greens and a few cucumber and tomato slices. My friends took pity on me, and let me raid their dishes for extra sustenance.
I’ve since learned my lesson; now I specify what I want. Since Vietnam is a coastal country, seafood is abundant, and as an ovo-lacto-pescitarian (extra points if you know what that means ), a vegetarian who eats eggs, dairy , and seafood, I have plenty of options.
One of my favorite lunch stops serves delicious crab meatballs in their pho noodle soup. Now I know to ask for con cua, or crab!