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eChinacities (Online Magazine - Chinese Tourist Sites)

Vegetables with a Vengeance – Meat-free Dining in Chengdu

Published at eChinacites online magazine

Like most other Western foods in Chengdu, or China for that matter, many vegetarian restaurants never seem to get it quite right. However, there are a few that are surprisingly good, even if their menus overly emphasise tofu-based dishes. That’s fine, if you really love your tofu. However, for those who like variety, there are realistic alternatives; vegetarian restaurants that feature Western and traditional Chinese food, and less tofu. Here are three of the most popular options in Chengdu.

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3 thoughts on “Vegetables with a Vengeance – Meat-free Dining in Chengdu

  1. Hmmm — fake meat is usually made of soy — tofu and fake meat are not really two separate things. And lots of vegetarians take issue with fake meat because they don’t want to be eating meat, even if it’s fake. Maybe they don’t even like the taste of meat. Maybe they don’t want imitation food but would prefer fresh, wholesome veggies, grains, legumes, etc… Plenty of ways to make vegetarian dishes without soy (tofu or fake meat). Vegetarians tend to take issue with the fact that restaurants don’t have any imagination when it comes to creating vegetarian dishes — they simply think the same thing meat-eaters consume is sufficient. When I lived in Korea, I encountered plenty of restaurants like the ones you describe, but I hardly ever ate there because it was much healthier, tastier, and more satisfying to eat real vegetarian dishes instead, like bean, rice, and vegetable dishes (available almost anywhere, and cheap). I did find one restaurant that made the meanest veggie burger ever — with beans and other veggies (no soy, fake-meat yuckiness). I write extensively about being vegetarian in Korea in my ebook, and a bit on my blog — check it out 🙂

    Posted by habannah | February 24, 2012, 01:36
    • For this story, I visited many restaurants, almost all of which consisted of tofu dishes, and little else. I had more than my share of tofu, and would be happy never to see or hear of it again.

      These three restaurants, however, stood out in Chengdu. While I have to take the owners at their word that the dishes weren’t tofu, they certainly had a taste and texture that was above that of the other restaurants. That is why I chose only these three, even though my editor had suggested five.

      Incidentally, after trying these, I ate a lot more substitute meat dishes. As a meat eater, I decided that the “fake meat” dishes were indeed healthier, especially having seem the unsatisfactory way meat is stored, displayed and sold in most places in China. They were close enough to the original taste of meat dishes to satisfy a meat eater.

      Posted by Craig Hill | February 24, 2012, 14:03
  2. That is precisely the point. Fake meat satisfies meat-eaters, not vegetarians. Vegetarians want real vegetarian options, not substitutes that make them feel sub-human for not following the crowd! 😉

    Posted by habannah | February 24, 2012, 23:34

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