For some in the Western world, vegetarian automatically implies tasteless, unattractive, low-protein meals. But the Vietnamese, whose culture and cuisine are rooted in Buddhism, know differently. They know how to creatively use ingredients such as bean products, roots, tubers, fungi, grains, and vegetables—all of which first sustained Buddha’s followers. The vegetarian diet has been with the Vietnamese for so many centuries that they are recognized for having some of the best vegetarian dishes around. And even though many Vietnamese are not strict vegetarians or vegans, their cuisine focuses on balanced meals with only small portions of meat and seafood dishes along with plenty of fresh vegetables and herbs. Balance, after all, is the essence of Buddhism, along with having a respect for karma and an understanding that everything you do will affect the world around you—people, animals, the environment, and so on.