BANGKOK — Put a crown on your favorite “jay” street food vendor by casting your ballot from today until the Vegetarian Festival in October.
Root the Future’s Plant Based Food Awards allows anyone to vote for their favorite vegan dishes in Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai, in what was billed as the first-ever crowd-based vegan awards in the country.
“I think it’s the first of its kind globally that allows people, not a panel, to vote on the winners,” Max Hellier, the founder of Root the Future, said. “We wanted to build up the plant-based scene in Thailand, not just Bangkok.”
“Lots of companies are plant-based in Thailand, but they don’t get the recognition they deserve, especially in the jay community.”
Votes will close Oct. 4 and be announced Oct. 16, just in time for the annual Jay (Vegetarian) Festival. Five voters will win a 5,000 baht voucher for the restaurant that wins “Best Restaurant.”
There are 10 categories such as “Best Jay Food Seller,” “Best Convenience Store Snack,” and “Best Plant Meat.” There are no nominees – when voting, simply type in any restaurant or shop that sells the plant-based food item.
“We want to break down the misconception that it’s just mushrooms and carrots. Plant-based is pizzas, burgers, and eggs,” Hellier said.
For categories that rank dishes (“Best Burger,” “Best Dessert,”) the restaurant itself doesn’t have to be vegan, only the dish.
Root the Future is a website founded by Briton Max Hellier and Aussie Joanna Broomfield that promotes plant-based living in Thailand.
Hellier, 32, has an underdog vendor that he hopes will win for the “Best Food-Court for Plant-Based” – the jay food court cart in Pier 21 at Terminal 21.
“Oh yeah, it’s so good. It’s a dirt-cheap food stand,” he said. “For 40 to 50 baht, you get three types of vegan food, like a crispy shredded beef made from mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and steamed bean buns.”
Mika Apitchatsakol, 27, owner of the vegan Bangkok City Diner, hopes she will get some votes for her Tan Tan Ramen, which has a vegan egg yolk.
“I’m glad this is bringing awareness to a lot of plant-based places in Bangkok. There’s enough vegan places here to make me feel like eating plant-based in Bangkok is not hard,” she said. “The awards will generate publicity for different restaurants in the running, and convince people to go plant-based for even once a week.”