Chinese Vegetarian Food

Chinese food is full of colors, flavors, and textures that appeal to a wide variety of eaters. Taoism and Buddhism are widely followed in China, both of which adhere to vegetarian lifestyle. In addition, many Yoga enthusiasts in China are vegetarians or vegans. There are over 50 million Chinese vegetarians and 40% of the world’s fruits and vegetables are eaten in China. Vegetarian cuisine is based on food that meets vegetarian standards by not including meat and animal tissue products. Here we provide you the guide of Chinese Vegetarian Food.

Ingredients of Chinese Vegetarian Food

A vegetarian diet is one that avoids meat, poultry, seafood, and other animal products, and sometimes also avoids dairy products and honey. Choosing a vegetarian diet is just a way of eating that is conducive to one’s own health, respects other lives, cares for the environment and conforms to the laws of nature. Vegetarianism has gradually become a lifestyle in line with the trend of the times.

Vegetarianism is not limited to vegetables. Besides vegetables, it also includes other plant-based foods such as fruits and melons. Among the categories included in vegetarian food, grains (including rice, wheat, soybeans, etc.) and nuts (including walnuts, peanuts, melon seeds, etc.), which are relatively common, are also two branches of vegetarian food. 

In China, the soybean has been a vegetable staple for ages. Not only the ubiquitous sprout, but the bean itself is processed into myriad forms of tofu (bean curd). Mushrooms are another highlight of China’s vegan diet. There are various kinds of mushrooms ranging from tiny baby ones to the large black ones in China, and they exist in various forms, fresh, dry, pickled and so on. 

Chinese cooks also use a variety of protein-rich foods to simulate the flavors and textures of meat, known as mock meat, which is created mostly with soy protein and/or wheat gluten to imitate the texture, taste, and appearance of duck, chicken, or pork. 

Useful Chinese Phrases for Chinese Vegetarian Food

The only hard part of being vegetarian in China is learning how to communicate that you don’t want meat. If you travel China by yourself, there is a question how to say you’re vegetarian. Although there is no simple way to make you understood clearly in all situations, remember some phrases close that are also helpful. 

The common used one is Wo Chi Su(/wor chrr-soo/, 我吃素), which means I am a vegetarian. Or Wo Bu Chi Rou(/wor boo-chrr roh/, 我不吃肉), which means I do not eat any meat.

You can also have a printed card that says “wo bu chi rou” which is more simple for you. In some places of China, “rou” is just “pork”. So you can write “Wo Chi Su” on this card.

List of Chinese Vegetarian Dishes


Chinese Chinese Pinyin English
 素食春卷  Sushi Chunjuan  Vegetarian Spring Rolls
 蒸蔬菜饺子  Zheng Shucai Jiaozi  Steamed Vegetable Dumplings
 酸菜和黄瓜  Suancai he Huanggua  Sauerkraut and Cucumber
 芝麻酱冷面  Zhimajiang Lengmian  Cold Noodles with Tahini Sauce
 葱油煎饼  Congyou Jianbing  Pancakes with Onion Oil
 油炸豆腐块  Youzha Doufukuai  Fried Bean Curd Cubes
 生姜酱沙拉  Shengjiangjiang Shala  Salad with Ginger Sauce


Chinese Chinese Pinyin English
蒸蔬菜 Zheng Shucai Steamed Vegetables
炒青豆 Chao Qingdou Sauteed Green Beans
新鲜芦笋 Xinxian Lushun Fresh Asparagus
混合蔬菜 Hunhe Shucai Mixed Greens
炒西兰花 Chao Xilanhua Sauteed Broccoli
中国豆腐 Zhongguo Doufu Chinese Bean Curd
中国茄子 Zhongguo Qiezi Chinese Eggplant


Chinese Chinese Pinyin English
素食酸辣 Sushi Suanla Vegetarian Hot and Sour
豆腐蔬菜 Doufu Shucai Tofu Vegetable
蔬菜 Shucai Vegetable

Rice and Noodles

Chinese Chinese Pinyin English
蔬菜炒饭 Shucai Chaofan Vegetable Fried Rice
米饭 Mifan Steamed Rice
蔬菜捞面 Shucai Laomian Vegetable Lo Mein

Vegetarian Restaurants

 We’ve compiled a list of vegetarian restaurants in China’s most popular tourist destinations to help you find your way. 


Baihe Vegetarian (Summer Palace Location) / 百合素餐厅(颐和园店)
Add: 50 Kunming Hu Lu, Haidian District北京市海淀区昆明湖路50号
Buses: 374,374支,704,905,992 to Summer Palace southern Gate
Open: 11am-10pm


Vegetarian Lifestyle (Jing An)/枣子树
Add: 258 Fengxian Lu (near Jiangning Lu), Jing An District奉贤路258号 (近江宁路)
Tel: +86 21 62157566
Open: 11am-9pm


Tianlong Baoyan Vegetarian Restaurant(Ci’en West Road)/天龙宝严素食馆 (慈恩西路店)
Add: 1 Ci’en West Road, Yanta District 雁塔区慈恩西路
Tel: 029-85266880, 029-85267880
Open: 10am – 10pm


Dashu Wujie/大蔬无界
Add: No. 1199, Chengdu Yintai Center, North Section of Tianfu Avenue
Tel: 15026751272


Guangzhou Foo Yau Yuan Vegetarian Restaurant/广州佛有缘素食馆
Add: Xing Fu Xin Cun, Lai Wan Rd, Guangzhou
Tel: (020)81250428,(020)81250619
Open: 7:00 – 15:00, 17:00 – 22:00 

How to Order Chinese Vegetarian Food

While more and more people are familiar with plant-based diets, don’t assume your server knows what it means to be vegetarian or vegan. While ordering vegetarian Chinese food may seem easy at first glance, it can be more trivial than one might expect. It’s not just about avoiding obviously meat-centric dishes, because many Chinese sauces, broths, and condiments contain animal products, even some vegetarian dishes may be cooked in lard, an animal-based fat.

So, before getting into a list of usually vegetarian Chinese food to order, ask what stock and broths are made from, if fish sauce is an ingredient, and what kind of oil is used for cooking. If they serve any type of mock meat, ask what ingredients are in it. Let your server know which foods you do not eat, such as chicken and fish, milk, cheese, butter, eggs, honey, chicken stock or broth, fish stock or broth, fish sauce or lard. If I just say that you are vegan, which leaves open to the server’s interpretation which may not be accurate. 

If you travel with us, our guides will be able to help you with this.

Food Culture Travel

Food is an integral part of Chinese culture and it should be an integral part of your trip too if you are a foodie who loves Chinese food. Don’t miss the famous local cuisine at the destination you stay. Most often, delicious food is with beautiful sceneryBeijingXianChengdu and Shanghai are famous food centers of China. Peking Roast Duck, Sichuan Hot Pot, Mapo Tofu, Kung Pao Chicken… Different cities have different local flavors and different food culture. Choose places to visit according to your preference. We have designed a series of China food tours for you. If you have enough time, you can visit several places to taste the great regional cuisine. Also, if you are interested enough, you can also have chances to make Chinese food.

Recommended Food Culture Tours:
Xian Evening Tour with Dumpling Dinner, Xian Tang Dynasty Show and City Night View
2 Days Beijing Highlights Tour with Beijing Roast Duck and Kong Fu Show
9 Days Beijing-Xian-Chengdu Small Group Tour
12 Days China Paradise Culture Tour by Train

Read more about China Food Culture Tours.