Is China a vegan and vegetarian friendly country?
If you are a vegetarian or vegan and you are planning to work, live or travel in China, you might be a little bit concerned about the food. Here is the best Chinese vegan and vegetarian food I found out there.
Is China a vegan and vegetarian friendly country? What type of Chinese vegan and vegetarian food will I find when I make it there? Do people understand what veganism and vegetarianism is? China is not a vegan or vegetarian country as a whole, but you can find great vegan and veggie options
Let me start from saying that you should never be discouraged from travel due to your different eating habits and beliefs. It is absolutely possible to travel widely in China and find Chinese vegan and vegetarian food. It just takes some effort and a bit of flexibility. Although Chinese people do not understand neither the concept of veganism nor vegetarianism, it does not mean you will starve to death if you live accordingly to one of these practices. In fact, you might find China a food paradise if you know what it has to offer in terms of fruits and vegetables and it’s not only about the greasy pork meat, oily veggies and rice. China is a vegan and vegetarian country indeed.
The best Chinese vegan and vegetarian food
Tropical fruits and fresh vegetables.
When you finally make it here, you can indulge in a juicy rambutan, star fruit, lychee, jackfruit (the most delicious fruits here) or baked sweet corn and grilled jacked sweet potatoes. You can have there on the run as they are sold nearly everywhere in the street. Have them as a snack and it will keep you full till lunch and dinner time.
Vegan/ vegetarian menu
#1 Chinese buns
Breakfast buns are a great breakfast option for vegans and vegetarians. They are usually filled with all sorts of tasty goodies – jam, jelly, fruits and steamed green veggies. You can acquire these from street side vendors. Topped with soy milk taste like heaven!
#2 Crispy-Skin Tofu
Blocks of tofu served with sweet red sauce. It might not smell nice, but it is very delicious and so nutritious. If you don’t like spicy food, you might ask for sweet or slightly salty sesame oil instead.
#3 Vegetarian Baozi or Jiaozi
These are one of the most delicious breakfast options on the go when in China. Baozi and jiaozi are the names for dumplings filled with radish, parsley, onion and pumpkin. You can have them served with soy sauce, chilli, vinegar and sesame oil. They are great
What’s the difference between baozi and jiaozi? Baozi are much bigger than jiaozi and they are normally steamed so they seem to be much healthier. Jiaozi are crescent-shaped, often deep-fried, but can also be served like baozi or in a soup.
#4 Egg and tomato soup
A simple soup made of eggs and tomato. Salty, and available country-wide.
#5 Noodle soup
You will surely enjoy a simple noodle soup with carrots, parsley, chives and onion. The noodles eaten in the morning are thick and long so you can feel fuller for longer. Add some herbs and spices and you are sorted for half of your day.
#6 You Tiao
They are deep fried bread sticks made of dough and served as an accompaniment for rice congee or soy milk. They are soft and taste best with some melted chocolate or peanut butter. Be careful: they are extremely oily.
#7 Jian bing
Jian bing are Chinese pancakes made at street vendors. They do not taste like Western style pancakes (thick, filled with sugar, served with fruits and nutella, sprinkled with powder sugar) as Chinese don’t like sweet food. Jian bing are spicy and served with chives. They are light and very filling.
#8 Hot pot
Hot pot are rice or noodles based dishes. There is a huge pot placed in the middle of the table where you can put all veggies in and wait a couple of minutes till they are cooked properly. You can add some chilli, oil and different herbs and spices to make it taste nice.
#9 Porridges (Congees)
When it comes to porridge, China offers a great variety of them. You can either go for red bean porridge (sweet), white rice porridge (sometimes sweet), black rice porridge with jujubes (sweet), millet congee or green bean porridge (sometimes sweet).
#10 Soy yoghurt
There are few places in China where you can soy yoghurt in glass bottles with tinfoil or paper lids from street vendors. These are most active in the morning. Also, in other areas you can often buy yoghurt in larger food stores or convenience stores.
There is no easy and direct way to say “I’m vegan” or “I’m vegetarian” in Chinese language. However, you can easily express it by saying: “Wo chi su” which means “I eat vegetables”. Locals will understand you well and nobody will ask additional questions.
As you can see, there is a great variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes you can try when in China. You might find the food a little bit stodgy at first, but you will quickly get used to it. No matter what part of China you are staying in or going to, there will be always street vendors from where you can purchase fresh fruits, raw veggies, nuts and peanuts.
Chinese vegan and vegetarian food is varied and delicious, so no need to worry about traveling to China!
Agness is a photography passionate, food lover and adventure hunter. She stands behind eTramping – a travel website where you can find plenty of budget travel tips on how to travel the world with $25 in your pocket. If you would like to read more about China, you can check out her “Add the Brick to the Great Wall:” Experience-based Advice for China from Expats” e-book which sums up her two-year experience of teaching, living and travelling in the Land of Dragons.
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