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Vegan Chinese Takeout Guide

The following article originally appeared on peta2.com.

Although not everyone is lucky enough to live near a big city that has a vegan joint on every corner, most of us can name at least one Chinese restaurant in our town. Although you might think all that Chinese food places have to offer are Kung Pao chicken and sweet-and-sour pork, they are also full of vegan options!

Almost every Chinese restaurant has tofu, a versatile vegan staple, which can replace meat in pretty much any dish—making any menu item a potentially vegan one.

Even if you’re not a big fan of the soy stuff, fear not, because there are tons of other options for you to order. Check out our Chinese food guide below!

Drinks

  • Bubble tea, aka “the Miracle of Boba”

Appetizers

  • Vegetable spring rolls with sweet-and-sour sauce
  • Vegetable steamed dumplings
  • Hot or cold sesame noodles
  • Salad with ginger or sesame dressing

Main Entrées

(Just ask for any meat to be replaced with tofu, and check for fish sauce.)

  • Garlic tofu
  • General Tso’s tofu
  • Sweet-and-sour tofu
  • Cashew tofu
  • Tofu and broccoli
  • Mapo tofu (Specify no pork since traditionally this dish is cooked with it.)
  • Mongolian tofu
  • Orange tofu
  • Kung Pao tofu

Noodles and Rice

  • Veggie chow mein
  • Tofu chow mein
  • Steamed rice
  • Vegetable fried rice (Specify no eggs.)
  • Tofu fried rice (Specify no eggs.)

Vegetables

  • Steamed vegetables with a side of sesame sauce
  • Sautéed green beans
  • Garlic eggplant

As you can see, your typical Chinese restaurant is brimming with delicious vegan eats. If you don’t have these options at a restaurant near you, you can always politely request them!

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  • Kate says:

    Careful! A lot of those sauces are made from beef, pork, or chicken broth. It’s best to ask an open-ended question like, “Can you tell me what is in the sauce?” instead of a yes/no question like “Is this vegetarian.”

  • Elaine says:

    As I was brought up eating Chinese food in restaurants and at home, I can safely say that hardly any dishes are truly vegetarian/vegan. Oyster sauce is used in almost all dishes and although the vegetarian version exists, I doubt a typical chinese restaurant will have it. Also, all dishes are cooked with what is known as the restaurant’s “signature stock” to enhance the flavour of the dish. This is made by boiling bones/meat/prawn shells etc.

  • lnf1379 says:

    I love getting chinese takeout! The tofu is usually sooo good! But a few things I noticed about this list: Bubble Tea-while this is USUALLY true, just be sure to specify that it doesn’t have milk in it, my roomie and I ordered takeout from an exclusively vegetarian chinese restaurant, and the strawberry bubble tea was basically strawberry bubble milk. Disappointing. And also, I LOVE ginger salad at hibachi/japanese/chinese restaurants, but found out recently that many restaurants use bonito flakes to flavor the dressing, as well as in the miso soup. This isn’t always the case, but just something to keep in mind.

  • Tia says:

    Sara – have you tried a restaurant card? Here’s a site that has a vegan card and you can order it in a variety of languages.

    http://selectwisely.com/selectwisely/products/cards/vegetarian/fc000030.htm

  • Susie says:

    I have the same experience as Sara. I’m in the US and find it a challenge to find vegetarian/vegan meals in Chinese restaurants. That’s why I’m very surprised with this article. A lot of Chinese restaurants cook in lard and/or beef/chicken broth. Just because tofu replaces a meat product in a meal doesn’t make it vegetarian. If they cook in lard and use meat broth, that leaves out fried rice, noodles, and anything else that’s fried or saucy. Chinese in general love meat. I know this because I’m part Chinese. The Chinese side of my family think I’m crazy for being a vegetarian. They have to have meat in every meal.

  • jan says:

    My fav local (before I began vegan) Chinese food restaurant uses chicken broth in their VEGGIE dishes!!! So just because it says garlic broccoli (my fav) doesn’t mean vegan at this restaurant!

  • gail says:

    Wow I’m going to China on vacation and I thought it would be easy to find vegetarian options. I guess I’ll have to be real careful. Thanks Sara for posting your comment. I would never have know.

    Gail

  • Sara says:

    I live in China and am having a difficult time. People don’t understand what being Vegetarian means not alone being Vegan. I have a card that says in chinese:

    No chicken, no chicken oil, no chicken broth,
    No Fish no fish oil no fish broth,
    no beef… etc etc

    Are there any online resources in Chinese that I could use to show people to educate them so they can understand what it is?

    I am also a teacher and could use this info to help educate parents.

    Thanks!

    Sara

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