Veggie Heaven in Beijing!

On September 26, 2011, in Beijing, Restaurants, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

When considering China as a potential holiday destination, it is often confusing for those with specific dietary requirements to understand what food options will be available for them once they arrive. If you plan to travel to Beijing this article will hopefully give you a bit more information on Vegetarian and Vegan options. There are a decent amount of restaurants available within the city and most Beijing hotels, alongside fast food and western restaurants will also have guaranteed meat free dishes on the menu for Vegetarians.


For a larger selection you could head to a pure Vegetarian restaurant. There are a variety of such places available and you will find a high concentration in the area surrounding the Lama Temple. It is not unusual for monks and tourists to dine in these places at the same time which makes for an interesting experience.


A popular place and well worth a visit is ‘Xu Xiang Zhai‘. This restaurant is nearby the Lama Temple and directly opposite Conficus Temple, with the nearest subway being Yonghegong on line 5. The establishment offers a buffet starting at 5.30pm, and a large menu which is available all day. It is quite a serene atmosphere, upon walking in you feel as though you are entering a spa complete with fish swimming around in pools. It is one of the most reasonably priced Vegetarian restaurants with the buffet costing around £6, which includes drinks and desserts. This consists of Chinese and Western dishes alongside some unusual and interesting creations.


Those with a larger budget may consider ‘Pure Lotus Vegetarian‘. This restaurant has two locations in the Chaoyang district and has fairly western prices, with a meal costing between £12 and £20 per head. Similarly to Xu Xiang Zhai it offers Vegetarian dishes alongside mock meat imitations, including Veggie versions of Peking Duck, Kung Pao Chicken and Kobe Beef. Other purely Vegetarian restaurants worth a look are Lotus in Moonlight, Tianchu Miaoxiang, Fairy Su and Beijing Vegan Hut.


In addition to the specific Vegetarian places, many Chinese dishes such as stir fries, noodles and hot pots have Vegetarian varieties, and tofu is a popular ingredient replacing meat in many dishes. The only issue to be aware of is sometimes these dishes may be cooked in animal fat, seasoned with fish sauce or accompanied with meat toppings so it is best to bring a phrase book or download an English to Chinese dictionary application on your phone so you can effectively communicate with the waitress.


Some key phrases to learn before your trip which will come in very useful are:

I dont eat meat - Wǒ bùchī ròu

I am vegetarian – Wǒ sù shí zhě

I am Vegan -Wǒ chún sù shí zhě

Do you have Vegetarian food? – Yǒuméiyǒu sù shí zhě

I am on a special diet – Wǒ zài jiéshí

I am allergic to (insert food) - Wǒ duì (insert food) guòmǐn

Could you make a meal without (insert food)? – Néngbùnéng zuòyīge bùfang (insert food) de cài?

fish – yú

eggs - jīdàn

poultry - jiāqín

red meat – niúyángròu

gluten - miànjīn

seafood – hǎixiān

shellfish – bèiké

peanuts – huāshēng

meat – ròu

pork – zhūròu

beef – niúròu

(note these phrases can be incomprehensible or mean something else entirely if pronounced incorrectly, so it may be worth downloading an application for your mobile phone with an Audio component to become familiar with the pronunciation.)


Another possible option to consider would be sampling the varieties of street food in Beijing, as there are many vegetarian snacks and meals, including baked sweet potatoes, savoury pancakes, fresh fruit and grilled vegetables on sticks. Additionally it may be worth heading for a large supermarket like Carrefour or Wal Mart if you have self catering facilities, as they have a large selection of both western and Chinese foods to create meals from. These are some of the bigger hypermarkets but there are plenty of small to medium supermarkets and stores located near most Beijing Hotels.


Jack Li

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