Vegetarian Pro Tips for Navigating China

Want to make sure you’re not getting any hidden meat or other allergens in your dishes in China?

While eating in China, many vegetarians order what they think are meat-free dishes, but they often contain small slices of pork. While tofu is a staple in Chinese cuisine, you’ll most often find it cooked in chicken broth or sprinkled with a bit of pork. Tofu is seen as a healthy protein, rather than a meat substitute, in China. Also, thinly sliced meat often plays the supporting role to larger vegetable chunks. To ensure you are completely clear about your dietary restrictions while traveling, keep these handy phrases on your phone and show the relevant ones to your waiter.

I am a vegetarian: 我吃素

I don’t eat meat: 我不吃肉

I don’t eat fish, shrimp, clams, or other animal marine life: 我不吃肉,虾蛤等其它地动物性水产品

I don’t eat chicken, duck, geese and other poultry 我不吃鸡,鹅,鸭等家禽

I don’t eat lard, and other animal fat 我不吃猪油(百油)等

I don’t eat egg 我不吃蛋

I don’t eat milk, butter, cheese and other dairy 我不吃牛奶,黄油,奶酪和其他乳制品的

I don’t eat meat, I only eat vegetables and tofu 我不吃肉, 我只吃蔬菜和豆腐

Sometimes, even when you show these phrases, your tofu might still come sprinkled with a bit of pork (͞For flavor,͟ the waitress will explain). If this is the case (or you have an extreme allergy), you can use this:

This person is allergic to meat, fish, and seafood. They understand that meat tastes good but it will make them go to the hospital. Please do not put any meat, fish or seafood into their dish and please do not season it with meat, fish or seafood including sauces, flavoring. Thanks!

这是一个对肉食、鱼和海鲜过敏的人。他知道它们吃起来非常美味, 但也许为了美味他将被送进医院。请不要在他的食物中放入任何鱼、肉或者海鲜, 也不要将它们一起烹调或使用任何相关调味品。谢谢!

You can also check out our favorite local vegetarian restaurants for places that will definitely offer meat-free dishes.

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