Vegan food in China: the photos; VeganMofo5

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Here is what you have been waiting for! I worked in Beijing for a month this summer, and here are the photos of a bunch of stuff I ate. I will have another post about the food in general and stories about being vegan in China.

It’s easier for me to put these in categories , so let’s start with the most important meal of the day:

The Hotel Breakfast

sauteed carrot, potato slivers, watermelon, sweet potato, fermented chili tofu, 2 mystery pickles. Congee with gojee berries. Warm bean milk.
sauteed carrot, potato slivers, watermelon, sweet potato, fermented chili tofu, 2 mystery pickles. Congee with gojee berries. Warm bean milk.
watermelon, pickled something, rice noodle & greens sesame garlic stuff, garlic mushrooms, boiled peanuts and celery, sweet potato, bean bun
watermelon, pickled something, rice noodle & greens sesame garlic stuff, garlic mushrooms, boiled peanuts and celery, sweet potato, bean bun, azuki congee, warm bean milk
The best breakfast. Tofu skin, fresh tofu with soy sauce, mystery pickle, bean bun, watermelon, chilli and garlic konyakku noodles. With plain congee and warm, fresh "bean milk"
The best breakfast. Tofu skin, fresh tofu with soy sauce, mystery pickle, bean bun, watermelon, chilli and garlic konyakku noodles. With plain congee and warm, fresh “bean milk”

The fresh warm, presumably soy milk was so good. The tea and coffee was made already with milk and sugar, so warm soy milk and an azuki bean bun became my “tea & biscuit” to relax me before going to work.

 

Lunch and Dinner

Lunch and dinner was kindly provided for us. I was living in a hotel with no refrigerator or microwave, so I couldn’t really bring in my own lunch. Despite making my diet clear to many people in charge many times (then why did they ask about special diets?), lunch sometimes was only steamed greens and bread for me. The vegetarian soup always had egg in it (except twice). The rice always had egg in it (except four times). And very often just a container of fried eggs (Non-foreigners had plain rice given to them. I guess eggs are supposed to impress us).  I barely ate rice in China because of this. I asked for less meaty & eggy options, not just for me, but it was alienating a few other vegetarians & pescitarians as well. My voice was heard and you’ll see in the third photo the bounty (which everyone shouted in glee about seeing fresh vegetables- which are hard to find to eat). It slowly went down hill again, and by the last day I was back to french fries and greens. Always steamed bok choy or something similar. All the time. Every day.

Lunch being awful
Lunch being awful
a desperate lunch. veggie spring rolls, greens and mushrooms, bread
a desperate lunch. veggie spring rolls, greens and mushrooms, bread
amazing lunch after complaints
amazing lunch after complaints

Restaurants

Eating out in normal restaurants wasn’t too bad, but there was a lot of repetitive food. For most of the time I had a Chinese speaker or my handy International Vegetarian Union Chinese printout to hand to the staff, which was super convenient. I will say a lot of these are from when the company took us out to eat. The first photo is your typical vegan options without any effort from the restaurant. “Oh, yeah, here.”

typical vegan selection. Steamed greens, mushrooms, steamed cabbage
typical vegan selection. Steamed greens, mushrooms, steamed cabbage
Sichuan noodles. No real sauce, only fried onions, chillies and soy sauce and lots of raw garlic
Sichuan noodles. No real sauce, only fried onions, chillies and soy sauce and lots of raw garlic
Cold aubergine (previously cooked) with sauce, garlic, peppers., etc
Cold aubergine (previously cooked) with sauce, garlic, peppers., etc
ramen!
ramen!
lotus root, ginko nuts, woodear mushrooms, etc
lotus root, ginko nuts, woodear mushrooms, etc
grilled rice cake
grilled rice cake
mystery mushroom
mystery mushroom
lotus root
lotus root
cabbage dumplings
cabbage dumplings
tomato juice with potatoes
tomato juice with potatoes
fried sweet potato fries
fried sweet potato fries
burdock yam with blueberry sauce
burdock yam with blueberry sauce
steamed greens, potato slivers
steamed greens, potato slivers
mashed yam with blueberry sauce, and sprinkles
mashed yam with blueberry sauce, and sprinkles
tofu skin salad
tofu skin salad
potato slivers
potato slivers- my FAV food discovery
tofu
tofu
hand cut noodle
hand cut noodles in a greasy tomato sauce. This was definitely one of my favorite dishes!

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Vegetarian Restaurants

Buddhism is normal in Beijing. Temples are everywhere, Buddhas are charms in cars and lots of people wear prayer beads. This means there are vegetarian people and a demand for vegetarian food. I went to a few restaurants: Bowei Tang Natural Vegetarian, Gongdelin, and Xu Xiang Zhai.

It was such a welcome relief to choose from so much and more than that, have a DIFFERENT choice of foods rather than, you guessed it: steamed bok choy. Fresh juice, meat free sauces and food not covered in grease were a welcome relief to my stomach. And I’m very happy to report the non-vegetarians really loved it too. I could see them actually surprised how much they loved it. It’s always nice when food can speak for itself!

Bowei Tang was near my hotel:

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vegetable pan-fried dumplings
vegetable pan-fried dumplings

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"handmade noodle" with "eggplants gravy"
“handmade noodle” with “eggplants gravy”
"handmade noodle" with "eggplants gravy"
“handmade noodle” with “eggplants gravy”

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"flame tofu"
“flame tofu”

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"braised assorted delicacies". = rehydrated mushrooms
“braised assorted delicacies”. = rehydrated mushrooms

Gongdelin was suggested by Messy Vegetarian Cook as the mapo tofu made her a foodie.
They were out of it when I went, but this finished me off instead:

sweet and sour "fish"
sweet and sour “fish”
But the fish was made of mashed potato
But the fish was made of mashed potato
"chicken" with noodles
“chicken” with noodles
A favorite; Sichuan chilli fried green beans
A favorite; Sichuan chilli fried green beans
vegetable dumplings
vegetable dumplings
vegetable dumplings
vegetable dumplings
After math
After math

Xu Xiang Zhai is the highest rated restaurant on Happy Cow in Beijing. I wanted to go with friends to the buffet so they could really try and explore veggie food without commitment to one dish. Unfortunately, we arrived an hour before they closed the buffet was pretty wiped out. So we ordered from the main menu and shared a bunch of dishes instead. The service was a hot mess, but the food made up for it. This was a real crowd pleaser.

"spare ribs" were probably the fan favorite
“spare ribs” were probably the fan favorite
tofu in "crab" sauce
tofu in “crab” sauce
dumplings in soup
dumplings in soup
3 vegetarian eel & 1 sprout temaki sushi
3 vegetarian eel & 1 sprout temaki sushi

Dessert

Dessert is mostly fresh fruit, which is pretty refreshing after all that food covered in grease and sauce. Usuallym we had watermelon and dragonfruit included on our fruit platters.

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Now THAT’S a fruit platter!

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fun sweets! Most involved prunes or sweet beans
fun sweets! Most involved prunes or sweet beans. Brown, orange, and yellow wrappers are vegan

Bar food

Sometimes you just want a little nibble. And China loves to nibble into all hours of the morning!

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This was one of my favorites. It’s grilled bread, chopped up into big chunks, with sesame seeds, five-spice and spring onion on it. Wow.
typical scene
typical scene- free edamame and boiled peanuts as a snack
fried stinky tofu (SO GOOD)
fried stinky tofu, SO GOOD- well, all fried food is! So spicy, too! Not stinky at all (I guess you need to get steamed stinky tofu for that smell)
Pick 3 buffet for 10 yuan (about £1). Cold, smoked tofu, potato slivers, tofu skin and celery salad. LOVE the potato slivers & tofu skin!
Pick 3 buffet for 10 yuan (about £1).
Cold, smoked tofu, potato slivers, tofu skin and celery salad. LOVE the potato slivers & tofu skin!
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sauteed spring onions with smoked tofu chunks
boiled peanuts and soybeans
boiled peanuts and soybeans
grilled Chinese chives- used as a plate for other goodies
grilled Chinese chives- used as a plate for other goodies
grilled enoki mushrooms
grilled enoki mushrooms
grilled aubergine stuffed with more aubergine and raw garlic, like, a lot. And I love garlic.
grilled aubergine stuffed with more aubergine and raw garlic, like, a lot. And I love garlic.
noodles with raw garlic and spring onions
noodles with raw garlic and spring onions
aftermath
aftermath. Just sitting outside a tiny restaurant with a tiny plastic table. This was one of the best days for me, doing real things Beijingers do.

Snacks

And then sometimes you don’t want to go out at all.

chrysanthemum tea
chrysanthemum tea
Ice cream sundae Oreos make your mouth tingle
Ice cream sundae Oreos make your mouth tingle
peach tea, veggie jerky "bean beef", cashews, seaweed snack
peach tea, veggie jerky “bean beef”, cashews, seaweed snack
spicy instant rice noodles
spicy instant rice noodles
Chinese oreos
Chinese oreos
kumquat and chrysanthemum jelly tea
kumquat and chrysanthemum jelly tea

But the best part was getting to meet my long lost 3rd cousin (little brother in Chinese!) and eating our way around Beijing together.

Long lost cousins (in matching shirts)!
Long lost cousins (in matching shirts)! At Xu Xiang Zhai

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