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Hardcore Vegetarianism
Posted March 1st, 2011 - 4:29 am by from Kissimmee, United States (Permalink)
So...living in China for me meant relaxing my vegetarianism a touch because EVERYTHING in restaurants either uses a beef broth base, pork oil, or chicken powder seasoning salt. Not to mention all the dishes with little bits of ground beef or tiny shrimp. Many Chinese people don't really understand vegetarianism as a concept, especially since most modern buddhist monks eat meat, smoke cigarettes, etc.

I began doing more cooking for myself about halfway through my stay, and it ended up being cheaper, more vegetarian friendly, and sometimes tastier. A lot of the cheap restaurants in China tend to be generic; the method of cooking dishes like fried potatoes will be about the same from one place to another. A part of Chinese cooking philosophy is "A little meat in the vegetables, a little vegetables in the meat." I found that buying spices and ingredients from vegetable markets and cooking at home really increased the kinds of Chinese food I was exposed to because I could make the local specialty dishes without the meat. Most Chinese cooks seem to have no idea how to do that. So, my own food wasn't entirely authentic, but it was better than eating egg fried noodles, fried eggplant, spicy tofu, etc. every night.

Good luck on your vegetarian adventures in China!

Posted March 1st, 2011 - 6:52 am from Beijing, China
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Posted March 1st, 2011 - 12:04 pm by from Adelaide, Australia (Permalink)
Charlie,

My husband and I will be travelling to Beijing a couple of times this year perhaps you could share some info about the good veg restaurants in Beijing?

Thanks

Posted March 1st, 2011 - 12:33 pm by from Fanlo, Spain (Permalink)
Vegetarianism is originally a Western concept, that´s why you don´t find the "vegetarianism" you expect in China, where "Yin&Yang" is dominant and people believe "There should be a bit of everything in everything".

Hunter, you are lucky to see plates like "A little meat in the vegetables, a little vegetables in the meat", while i can only find plain bloody meat plates here in Spain.

Don´t expect much from the restaurants, it´s the same case everywhere in the world. Actually China it´s a great place for vegetarians since you can easily find the good ingredients from markets to make your own delicious plates.

And if you really want to have authentic vegetarian plates, go to the restaurants run by the Budhist temples. The quality of those restaurants might differ from region to region. I´m a Cantonese, and in Canton, i had the most amazing vegetarian plates in my life.

It´s wise to cook on your own, which is all vegetarians should do since the world is still only 20% friendly with vegetarians.

I´m sure people will have good luck with their vegetarian adventures in China. Sometimes life is lot easier if one is less hardcore.

Posted March 1st, 2011 - 12:40 pm by from Fanlo, Spain (Permalink)
"most modern buddhist monks eat meat, smoke cigarettes,"

Please do your research and get a genuine statistical result first before your put words like the above saying.

Friendly but not agreeingly

Posted March 2nd, 2011 - 1:09 am by from Kissimmee, United States (Permalink)
看好,我写的就是我的想法。我看到了好多和尚吸烟。有可能在有名的诗他们不吃肉,但是在小地方没有那么严肃。你可能觉得不对,但是我就是说我见到的事情。我不是要不给中国的佛教面子,我要帮助别的素食者。说真的可能是不礼貌,但真话比谎话好。

Posted March 2nd, 2011 - 1:38 am from Beijing, China
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Posted March 2nd, 2011 - 4:14 am by from Adelaide, Australia (Permalink)
I agree with Hunter that there are many Monks who eat meat and smoke. There are also many who don't, just like any religion there are different levels of commitment.

Posted March 2nd, 2011 - 11:28 pm by from Fanlo, Spain (Permalink)
Sure this is not a forum for arguement. But i´m still not convinced by only a couple of people´s experience.

Hunter, your Chinese looks really good enough, and if you check out some Chinese vegetarian books you will definitely find lots of fabulous recipes, which will give you a better idea of Chinese vegetarianism.

In the north, Chinese steamed bread don´t contain eggs and they are normally made of whole grain flour and very wholesome. But those in the western-styled bakeries for sure have eggs to please Chinese people´s preference.

Steamed bread with vegies inside are really yummy and healthy and it´s easy to do them youself. Ask your friends around and you will get nice recipes.

Cheers!

Posted March 3rd, 2011 - 12:53 am by from Kissimmee, United States (Permalink)
Fair enough, Charlie. We should all definitely make friends. I didn't mean to get heated or bring up controversial topics. Tchin Tchin, I think Spanish-speaking Chinese people are very special, and I've tried to make friends with every one I've met. So hopefully we can be friends too, and I'll try not to be offensive in the future :)

Posted March 3rd, 2011 - 3:28 pm by from Fanlo, Spain (Permalink)
I think we have already been friends since joining the group:-)Sorry that I was not humble enough.

Hunter you´ve actually brought out some good topics. I talked to my brother-in-law in Canton who knows well about social issues.He told me that there are actually existing lots of pseudo-monks who are cheating people out of money and sympathy in the religeous name. Serious and legal monks are only seen inside the temples instead of doing commercial deals in the streets. Even new temples are not supposed to be trustworthy since only old temples or extension of the old ones are considered legal in China.

So the ones you guys saw eating meat or smoking most probably belong to those fake ones. He also told me that there are quite some branches inside Budhism itself, some of which although encourage non-meat but don´t actually forbit it. But the smoking part is still tricky.

I can truely synchronize with your frustration. it happens all the time to travellers who need to be adaptive but at the same time want so much to stay with their principles. I was also a hardcore vegetarian for 4 years wherever i was until i started to settle down in north Spain two years ago. I can´t blame the place coz why should i judge others´culture? and i can´t blame myself either, since i know i can´t say no all the time to people´s offering who hang big hams, chorizos, sausages...in all of their houses. But i guess as i live longer here, i will soon know better how to play the game. For me, it´s a question of compromise.

In China the problem for foreigners is that you rarely see organic food shops, which ironically only exists in a few civilized big cities where travellers consider inauthentic and seldom visit.

but i´m sure you guys will soon know better the rules of the game in China and the frustration will withdraw:-)

But owing to the place where i´m living now in Spain, i´ve started to grow my own vegie garden! It´s such a rejoice!

Cheers!



Posted March 3rd, 2011 - 3:46 pm from Beijing, China
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Posted March 5th, 2011 - 3:57 am from Suzhou, China
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Posted March 1st, 2011 - 12:03 pm by from Adelaide, Australia (Permalink)
I know what you mean.

I try to ignore the fact that my food is cooked in meat broth or oil. I have only recently discovered how much chicken stock is used. I just can't go pure, as I would have to cook my food myself (I don't really like cooking) and would only get to eat out at the one vego place in Xi'an.

It is amazing how much egg is used here too, most breads.

I need to cook more often, if you have some good meal ideas please share!




Posted March 5th, 2011 - 3:54 am from Suzhou, China
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Posted March 5th, 2011 - 6:55 am by from Adelaide, Australia (Permalink)
I really think it is a difficult thing for anyone to say they are a hardcore anything!

How do you know if a restaurant is using a meat broth or a chicken stock? Pieces of meat in my meal I will send back but broth, I just don't know.

I understand some people who call themselves vegetarian, might still eat fish, seafood or egg as what else do we call them?

I think there are many varieties of vegetarians. People are vegetarian for many different reasons.

Do you eat cheese in China? What is MSG made out of in China? Do you know what your broths are made from?

I really do think it is difficult to be a pure vegetarian if go out to regular restaurants/cafeterias to eat in China.

I do admire your confidence to explain exactly what you want at a restaurant, perhaps it will inspire me.

Posted March 23rd, 2011 - 2:22 am from Suzhou, China
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