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Epicurvegan’s going to Beijing!

October 12, 2009

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With 25 days to go until we leave for China, I still have to book a hotel, figure out where Stephen and I want to go in Bering, and decide where to eat for seven days in a country whose two primary languages neither of us speaks. I’ve heard some people say that when vegan and in doubt, look for a Buddhist Chinese restaurant to eat at; at least you don’t have to worry about meat. And this seems to me a good rule of thumb, as long as I know how to tell the staff I don’t drink/eat cow’s milk either since some Buddhists do consume cow’s milk.

Earlier this year, when we were at Food Fight in Portland, we’d planned to pick up copies of the Vegan Passport to take with us on our trip. There were no copies in the store, so I figured I’d buy copies from the Earthsave Canada office. When I called two weeks ago, they didn’t have any either and suggested I check out Amazon (which I did just out of curiosity, but I’m not buying anything from Amazon). I really dragged my feet on this one – when I finally get around to seriously looking to buy copies of the passport, it seems there are none to be had because they’re out of print. I did find copies available at The Vegan Society, but with only one mailing option that isn’t express mail, it’s possible the passports might arrive in Vancouver after we’ve already left for Beijing.

Somehow I found my way to a page on the International Vegetarian Union website called “Vegetarian Phrases in World Languages“. In 67 different languages from Scandinavia, Iberia/Latin America, Western Europe, Central/Eastern Europe, East Asia, West Asia/Africa, South Asia, and also in Esperanto, you can find vegan and vegetarian phrases translated from English. For Beijing, there’s an image of a page of simplified Chinese for mainland China that includes phrases that can be used to tell others you don’t eat meat, poultry, lard, any marine products, and even “I love animals, so I don’t eat them.”

But what about telling people we don’t consume cow’s milk? Veggie Voyager has an amazing reference guide complete with vegan phrases in English and their corresponding Mandarin characters (as well as somewhat phonetic pronunciations). Vegetarian China has a really extensive guide that includes a list of vegetarian dishes to look out for, their Chinese names in both Mandarin characters and in pinyin, along with a description of what the dishes are. There’s also Happy Cow’s Beijing page, though I’m not so sure how up to date this page is.

I’m not so worried about being able to eat in Beijing. Even the famous snack street in Wangfujing has vegetarian options amongst the many non-vegetarian offerings. And worst come to worst, we’ll just eat fresh fruit, nuts, plain tofu, and simple greens. But just in case, I’ll pack a bunch of Larabars in my suitcase.

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