Kiana Mckenna

Eating vegetarian in China is seen as a real challenge. Admittedly, it was something I was worried about before arriving here. Meat is a common ingredient in many Chinese dishes. Even some of the vegetable dishes will have miniscule pieces of meat for flavour or as a garnish. However, I'm glad to let you know that eating vegetarian in Guangzhou isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

1. Explore

Moving to a new place can be an excellent opportunity to venture out and try some new food, especially in China, which is renowned worldwide for its delicious cuisine. Of course, being new to a city means being unaware of ideal places to eat, especially as a vegetarian. Not to worry, there are many online resources which can aid the process of finding suitable restaurants. HappyCow is a vegetarian or vegan’s best friend when it comes to exploring the world of food in a new city. Simply type in the city you are located and the website finds an abundance of suitable restaurants nearby!

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2. Chinese Food

Although it can be daunting at first, ordering vegetarian dishes in a Chinese restaurant can be easier than you think. Many Chinese restaurants can accommodate vegetarian or vegan diets if you simply ask. It’s important to be clear and let the waiter know exactly what you want or don’t want, as their idea of vegetarian may not be the same as yours!

Despite the fact that meat is often a central part of Chinese food, it must be known that many of China’s cuisine,like hot pot (huǒ guō) or barbecue (shaō kǎo), have a whole host of vegetarian options, including eggplant, potato, green beans and tofu. Not only that but, some of the most delicious street food may also be vegetarian. Take this quaint family-owned restaurant at Tiyu Xilu (Exit B) for example. Everything on the menu is vegetarian and cooked right in front of you. Their soups and fried rice are divine!

3. A taste of home

Guangzhou has a host of Western style restaurants across the city. They have a wide range of vegetarian options. You can find everything from American style, Indian, Mexican and Italian to name but a few, all here in Guangzhou. Some of the most notable Western style restaurants in the city include: Morgan’s, Social & Co, Bandidos, Little Papa’s, Go Vegan and 13 Factories.

Go Vegan has a variety of delicious salad bowls, burritos, wraps and soups.

Bandidos is one of Guangzhou’s most famous Mexican restaurants. They serve delicious vegetarian tacos burritos and nachos!

Little Papa’s Indian restaurants serves some delicious vegetarian curries!

4. Ordering In

Living in China can often mean a busy lifestyle, and you may fancy ordering delivery rather than cooking or eating out. No problem, China’s food delivery services are convenient and affordable. Meituan is one of China’s largest food delivery apps and makes ordering lunch or dinner quick and easy. The app is all in Chinese, so I would suggest having a local friend or coworker help you to set up. After using the app a few times, it’s easy to navigate. Simply use the photos and dish descriptions to help you. You can also add notes to your order to inform the restaurant of any dietary requests or requirements, take a look at the useful phrases below.

5. Useful Phrases

Having a few Chinese phrases in your pocket can help when ordering in a restaurant or adding notes to your Meituan order

I’m vegetarian                                   wǒ chī sù                                             我吃素

I don’t eat meat                                wǒ bù chī ròu                                     我不吃肉

I don’t eat fish                                   wǒ bù chī yú                                       我不吃鱼

No meat                                             bù yào ròu                                          不要肉

No fish                                                bù yào yú                                            不要鱼

No egg                                                bù yào jīdàn                                       不要鸡蛋

Does this dish have meat?            zhè gè cài yǒu ròu ma?                  这个菜有肉吗

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