By Robert Clunie
“Take up a cause,” they said. “It’ll benefit your health,” they might say. Now, vegetarians, for all their other subtleties, aren’t exactly ones to remain quiet about their lifestyle choice. This is all fine and dandy, but there is a group of radicals that take a more hardcore stance on vegetarianism. Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival in Thailand spans a hefty 170 years and commemorates the ousting of disease after locals began adhering to a strict vegetarian diet. What followed may leave outsiders shuddering in disbelief. Attendees forgo the traditional placard and picket line. They would rather voice their stance in an extreme display of body mutilation. Bloodstained men would pierce their cheeks with any imaginable object – household or otherwise. Some may stick to ‘safer’ knitting needles and skewer rods, but others feel this to be inadequate. One might argue that that these men create a metaphorical cage in their mouths by piercing it with umbrellas, branches and even a full-sized spade of all things. Mind-boggling at the very least. The reward? God will gift them with superb health and a cleansed spirit. Appaz.