All About Vegetarian Chinese Foods

vegetarian chinese food

It’s not always easy to come up with delicious, wholesome vegetarian Chinese recipes. Sometimes you might feel like there’s nothing left to do but order take-out again. But the truth is that if you know your way around a kitchen, there are plenty of ways to make healthy and satisfying vegetarian Chinese foods without any meat or fish ingredients at all.

What is vegetarian Chinese food?

A table topped with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables

There are two types of vegetarians: Lacto-Ovo and ovo-vegetarian. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products, but not fish or meat such as beef or chicken. Ovo vegetarians do not eat eggs, dairy products, meat, poultry, or fish; they simply consume eggs (this includes eating foods that may have come into contact with eggs such as baked goods). Vegetarianism in China is mainly for religious reasons due to the Buddhist belief that taking life brings bad karma. However, some people have become vegetarian because of serious health conditions related to dieting. Therefore many vegetarian dishes are made without any products at all so there is no worry of cross-contamination.

Tips for eating out at a restaurant and ordering vegetarian options

Chinese people are becoming more aware of vegetarianism, especially among the younger generation. Still, it is good to know that some dishes may have meat in them even if they are not “meat dishes.” For example, Kung Pao Chicken is usually made without meat, but this dish might have shrimp paste, which is definitely non-vegetarian so you should ask before eating something! Also sometimes White Rice or Brown rice are mixed together so you need to clarify with your server whether or not there are eggs within the rice itself. It’s important to be specific about what type of vegetarianism you practice as well because some Buddhists don’t eat garlic.

Recipes for making your own vegetarian Chinese dishes

There are many recipes that you can make yourself! Some popular ones include General Tso’s Tofu (tofu in a spicy sauce), Vegetable Lo Mein, Kung Pao Tofu, and Buddha’s Delight (a mixture of fresh vegetables).

Why you should try it!

Vegetarian Chinese food is healthier because it doesn’t use any meat—only soy protein. Plus, most soy protein is fermented which makes it contain less fat but more nutrients!

Buddhism teaches us not to take life and to be compassionate with all living things. Eating a vegetarian diet allows us to develop the values of compassion and kindness for others within ourselves.

Most Chinese people grow up eating a lot of meat dishes because meat has long been considered an essential part of any good meal. However, these days younger generations are choosing to eat meatless meals out of consideration for animals while also realizing the health benefits tofu can bring. Eating vegetarian once in a while is a good way to try something new while having fun with your friends or family at home!


Vegetarian Chinese food is not easy to come by in the U.S., but it’s a popular dish among vegetarians and vegans for its variety of flavor profiles with multiple vegetables, sauces, spices, oils, and aromatics. A vegetarian diet can be healthy without sacrificing the taste you crave or compromising your values on animal welfare or environmental sustainability!

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