Cabbages and Condoms Provides a Message with the Pad Thai
By Kit Snedaker
A free vasectomy from the clinic next door is one of the perks for males dining at Bangkok’s Cabbages and Condoms. All diners get a condom with coffee, instead of an after-dinner mint because C&C is the only restaurant in the world dedicated to birth control.
Luckily, it also serves delicious and innovative Thai food. Spicy Condom Salad, for example –- fried Shanghai noodles spiced with herbs.
In the adjoining gift shop, bouquets of condoms, looking disconcertingly like bunches of Black-eyed Susans, stand in vases next to silver bracelets, vests and other handicrafts made by villagers.
Piles of T-shirts are emblazoned with the message, “Cabbages and Condoms, Our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy.” Proceeds from the sale of these items and the restaurant’s meals are given to the Population and Community Development Association, a non-profit organization founded in 1974 by Mechai Viravaidya, the former Thai Minister of Health.
Viravaidya, whose Scottish father and Thai mother sent him to Australia to be educated, is Thailand’s leading philanthropist. His non-profit association backs birth control, environmental conservation, rural development and AIDS awareness. Although Viravaidya has held four cabinet posts in the government, his champion cause continues to be birth control.
To this end, he wants to make condoms as common–and as accepted–as cabbages. He has passed them out to surprised bankers and CEOs at sober World Bank meetings and paid farmers to paint ads and public service announcements for condoms on the sides of their water buffalo. Thanks in part to his effort, Thailand’s birth rate has dropped below 1 percent a year.
Cabbages and Condoms is only one of his many attempts to make birth control a popular and populist message in Thailand.
And business at the bustling downtown eatery is excellent. It’s been consistently rated as one of the best restaurants in Bangkok. So far, however, there’s no rating — good or bad — for the vasectomies next door.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
There are several Cabbages and Condoms restaurants in Thailand. The first, and most popular, remains the downtown Bangkok location
Cabbages and Condoms Sukhumvit Soi 12
Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Nakhon Ratchasima86/1 Suebsiri Rd., Nai Muang Sub District
Muang District, Nakhonratchasima
Tel: 044-258-1002 Vieng Pa Pao153 Moo 6
Pa Ngiew Sub District, Viengpapao District
Chiangrai province 57170
Tel: 053-952-3113 Chiangrai620/25 TanalaiRd.
Chiangrai Province 57000
Nangrong81 Moo Chokchai-Dej Udom Rd.
NongBoth Sub District, Nangrong District
Buriram Province 31100
COST: Reasonable–between $15-$30 per person.