One of my favourite things about travelling is getting to explore a culture through food. When you are vegan in place like China, this can be a little daunting. Fortunately, if you go to the right cities you can manage to find places. Here is my vegan food tour of Chengdu!
Recently I went to the remarkable city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province. Not only was this an amazing place to visit but I felt spoiled for choice when it came to finding food. In fact, my trouble become narrowing down where I would choose to eat!
Food in Sichuan is not for the weak. What makes the food in Sichuan famous is the level of spice. An absolute must for anyone travelling to Chengdu is the hotpot. In the weeks leading up to my travel I was told by numerous co-workers that I would be able to find good hotpot. With the help of Happy Cow, finding a place that does all vegan hotpot is super easy.
My recommendation for hotpot would be to go to Yusuge opposite Kowloon plaza. This place is nicely located to some areas you will want to see in Chengdu. It offers both a hotpot buffet and regular buffet, so anyone in your party will be catered to. I was lucky enough that when I went there for hotpot they gave me a free plate to eat at the regular buffet.
As I am used to there being some difficulty in finding vegan food in China, I was prepared that the best meal I would get in Chengdu would bean my usual go-to of braised eggplant with rice. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out the amount of vegan places that offer buffets.
In my experience, in Australia, the US and China, finding buffets that cater to vegans are extremely rare. In the four days I was in Chengdu I was able to eat at a buffet at least once a day (usually twice!).
My favourite place was called Veganheart Vegan and they had a connecting store where you can buy various vegan products. The staff here speak a little English and the food was delicious!
Zero waste-clean your plate
As someone who is greatly aware of the impact we make on climate change through our choices, any opportunity to reduce this impact is taken with great pride. China is not well known for tackling this impact, but I was delighted to see that at many of the places I visited had a zero-waste campaign!
These restaurants offered a discount voucher to anyone who finished all food on their plates! These discounts ranged from 5RMB to 15RMB depending on the restaurant.
Vegan named places
There isn’t really a word for vegan or even vegetarian in Chinese and it is often difficult to translate the meaning. This probably adds to the lack of understanding that most Chinese people have about veganism.
With this in mind you can imagine my surprise when I found not just one but multiple places that used the word vegan in their English name. One of these places was simply called Vegan.
Many of these vegan named restaurants are located in the same general area. There is a temple and pedestrian street close by. Thus, making it possible to go to one place for lunch, check out the nearby sites and try a different spot for dinner. Basically, a perfect day!
Temples are usually a safe bet for getting vegan food in China. This is because when veganism is understood it is generally in relation to spirituality. The benefit of this is that in addition to delicious food you also get to explore some of the most beautiful places.
The main temple to see in Chengdu is called Wenshu Yuan Monastery. Here there is a vegan restaurant where you can choose between a set menu or buffet. The buffet is reasonably priced at only 35RMB. There is a rule that you are expected to finish everything on your plate (so as to reduce waste) and that you will clear away your plates when you’re done.
Chengdu is a remarkable place to visit and has much to offer. Being close to popular (must-see) tourist sites such as Leshan Giant Buddha. The food available makes it an even more enjoyable travel destination. The diversity of the meals means that people of all tastes will be well catered for!
This blog post is part of our mini series on Veganism and Vegeterianism in China. This post was written by Mickey Aldridge, our Australian teacher at our Gu Tian branch. You can read here other blog on how to be a vegan in China here.