Updated: Oct 15, 2020
Getting ready to move to China, there were quite a few things I was nervous about. How will I survive without any Chinese? Is it going to be scary crossing the streets? How will I get around the city? What will I eat? Wait, what will I eat? I’ve been vegan for over five years. Not being vegan is not an option for me.
I began googling every "vegan food in China" article and watched every "vegan in China!?!?" vlog on youtube.
It was beginning to seem possible, but still daunting. Not eating meat in China seemed like a paradox. It finally came time to leave my hometown Los Angeles, CA, a.k.a a vegan’s sanctuary. I packed a week's worth of protein bars and hoped for the best en route to Beijing. This is actually my second time in Beijing. I was here with my boyfriend and his best friend who had been a resident in China for over 20 years. He handled all the ordering for us with his pristine Chinese, and I was fed plentiful. This time, it was only my boyfriend and I with not more than a Nǐ hǎo and a Xiè Xiè.
My first meal in Beijing was breakfast in the hotel. Google translate, let's call her Nat my new foreign best friend, began to shine. I translated via Nat that I did not eat any meat, chicken, fish, eggs, or dairy. I've learned in the past that if you say meat, it will often be assumed you eat chicken. The waiter understood my request and recommended a delicious garlic cauliflower dish. The fruit for dessert included dragon fruit, my new favorite Beijing thing. Vegan life in Beijing, sign me up please.
As my days in Beijing continue, every single meal has been drool worthy. Not only is it possible to eat vegan in China, China's vegan based cuisine is extraordinary. I’ve discovered tofu noodles for the first time in Beijing, which are incredible. I’ve never seen tofu made in so many different styles. The local markets are also stocked with great fresh produce and all my vegan heart desires.
There have of course been some upsets. On a few occurrences, I began getting a bit too comfortable. Without translating, I began to point to what looks like a complete vegetable dish. To my surprise, the dish had bits of pork and other meats. I have now learned it is completely normal to put meat bits in veggie dishes. Since then, I always make my dietary needs clear from the start, and alas, this not happened again.
To say that I have eaten, is an understatement. The greatest thing I have learned being vegan in China is that I am not limited to only vegan spots. When I first arrived, I started to only search for vegan places using my phone. This rarely turned out a result. Instead of focusing my attention on my phone screen, I keep my head up. The first place that catches my eye will be the one to try.
Post by: Maya Bernstein