Chinese Vegetarian Food
Vegetarianism is more than just abstaining from meat consumption but encompasses compassion for all beings and the support of a sustainable lifestyle.
Chinese vegetarian food outlets caters to anyone who is interested to sample vegetarian food and welcome anyone curious about or interested in this cuisine. People who patronize the vegetarian restaurants could be full time vegetarians, vegans, part time vegetarians (i.e. only on special occasions) or simply curious.
You can be a local, tourist, Buddhist or non Buddhist. It does not matter. Vegetarianism can be found in various cultures. Many Chinese Buddhist choose to be vegetarian as a means of practicing compassion. They do not want animals to suffer and be killed for their food requirements.
In Taoism, being a vegetarian is part of a cleansing process for participating in rituals. Today, many people switch to a vegetarian diet on the first and fifteenth days of the lunar month. During these selected days, vegetarian outlets are especially busy during lunch time because of increased demand.
Modern reasons for being a vegetarian includes concern for animals, health reasons and having holistic worldview.
Chinese Vegetarian Food Culture
The typical menu in a Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant looks like menus from any other Chinese restaurant; BBQ Pork, mutton curry, fish fillet, fried chicken, sharks fin soup...... Yet, the dishes are vegetarian, i.e. no meat is involved in the preparation.
Chinese vegetarians believe that the taste, flavor, and texture of meat dishes can be reproduced using non meat mediums. The chief would select a suitable non-meat substitute and the cooking technique similar to that used in preparing the meat dish is applied to this non-meat substitute.
The result is is a dish that looks like and tastes like the original dish but without the use of meat. This way, people can enjoy their favorite food without killing animals.
In fact, people unfamiliar with Chinese vegetarian cuisine can hardly believe that the "chicken" or "beef" they had is actually vegetarian meat.
Vegetarian food culture continues to evolve and to reflect popular food culture.