Being Vegan in China
Today’s guest post comes from Jenny Hoper, a Teach China Graduate Program participant currently teaching in Foshan, near Guangzhou. Here Jenny shares her experiences of being Vegan in China.
But how will you cope with being Vegan in China?
Before moving to China one of the questions I was asked most frequently was ‘how will you cope as a vegan there?’ and I often asked myself that question too. Leaving the UK where veganism is really beginning to kick off to a country where there is not even a word for vegan was daunting to say the least. While it can be very limiting in certain situations, for the most part I have been overwhelmed with choice and I’m very relieved to say that I am managing to keep up veganism which I feared I would have to compromise whilst living in China.
How they season the vegetables makes them taste incredible…
The basis of most food in China is rice and vegetables, so having a basic meal is not hard to come by at all. It may sound bland and simple but there’s something about how they season the vegetables here that makes them taste incredible. There is a dish called ‘qié zi’ which is eggplant and green beans and it is so delicious I would gladly eat it every day. Vegetables are ridiculously cheap as well and I can get nearly everything I can get back at home. If you can cook then you will absolutely not go hungry, there are more vegetables than you can imagine so it’s the perfect opportunity to try so many new foods. Consuming enough protein is not a problem, tofu is eaten widely in China as are other vegan protein sources such as seitan, beans, legumes and nuts. If you do crave Western vegan food there are numerous international supermarkets in China, and they sell Oreos in abundance here which is a vegan go-to.
There’re always at least 2 or 3 vegan options..
Everywhere that we’ve eaten out here so far there’s been at least two or three vegan options. Every Chinese restaurant serves qié zi and rice several other vegetable dishes, and other foods like sushi and street food always have nice options so I’m never normally short on choice. If you look hard enough there are Western restaurants too and they will always have something for you. Muslim and Buddhist restaurants are also easy to come by and they have some of the most delicious vegan food I have ever tried! Where I live in Foshan, Guangdong you can easily get food delivered and there are plenty of salad bars and places that label their dishes as vegan, so that’s always an option if you don’t feel like cooking.
It has been unexpectedly easy…
While it has been unexpectedly easy to be a vegan in China, it does not come without its struggles at times. It is much easier to avoid dairy and eggs than actual meat and fish which is the opposite to the UK, and I have had some close calls. There is also some stigma towards not eating animal products, people will often question your choice but I can assure you that you will not go hungry in China as a vegan, despite the assumptions. Check ingredients where you can, try new foods and you will be pleasantly surprised by what China has to offer. And definitely try the qié zi, you will not be disappointed!
Jenny Hoper is from the UK, and a recent graduate of the University of Southampton. She’s currently teaching for Nanhai International Kindergarten, as part of the Teach China Graduate Program.
Check out Jenny’s full China Blog