Is Chinese Food Vegan?

The popularity of Chinese cuisine has reached the furthest corners of the earth and is enjoyed by people from all over the world. Chinese restaurants have especially become staple eateries in the US, offering fast and convenient takeout options with delicious food items. 

But is Chinese food vegan? Well, although not entirely, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are many vegan Chinese dishes! Some tofu-based recipes, such as braised tofu and tofu pudding, are examples of Chinese vegan food.

What Chinese Food is Vegan?

vegetable spring roll

While almost none of us don’t have the luxury of dining at a dedicated vegan Chinese restaurant nearby, we do have a lot of vegan menu options. Here’s a breakdown of some Vegan-Friendly Chinese food, so that the next time you visit a Chinese restaurant, you know what your vegan options are!

Appetizers

Looking to get started with something light? Here are some popular choices!

Vegetable Spring Rolls

Vegetable spring rolls are usually vegan-friendly – the wrapper is typically made from flour, water, and salt, and the filling is plant-based. However, before buying these rolls from your local Chinese takeout, check and make sure that no egg is used to make the wrappers, and that no fish sauce is included in the filling!

Sesame Noodles – Served Hot or Cold!

Sesame Noodles are basically just a bowl of noodles topped with sesame oils and often seasoned with plant-based ingredients such as garlic, vinegar, peanut butter, and chilli sauce. Some restaurants also offer sesame noodles with vegetables or tofu!

Vegetable Dumplings

Vegetable dumplings are another light, tasty vegan option for Chinese food lovers. Vegetable dumplings are usually served with hot and sour sauce, and other added condiments However, be sure to ask the server about the dumpling and sauce ingredients, just to be on the safe side!

Main Entrées

Now that we’ve taken a look at some vegan appetizers, it’s time to get to the main courses. Here is some more Chinese food that is vegan:

Tofu-Based Mains

tofu and broccoli

There are many vegan Chinese dishes that are tofu-based, a popular vegan alternative to meat, and a great source of Vitamin D. In fact, at many Chinese eateries, you can specifically request for entrées that contain meat to be replaced with tofu. 

Some popular tofu-based choices include:

  • Braised tofu: Quick-fried and then cooked in a hot wok, braised tofu is a firm tofu dish that can be enjoyed with a side of leafy green vegetables such as choy sum or bok choy.
  • General Tso’s tofu: Usually prepared with stir-fry vegetables or served with a side of rice, General Tso’s tofu is another Chinese dish that is usually vegan. Just ask the server to make sure there is no fish sauce added to the dish! 
  • Tofu and broccoli: Two superfoods! Need we say more?
  • Mongolian tofu: This is a vegan-friendly (provided that no fish sauce is used!) alternative to the ‘Mongolian Beef’ entrée. The tofu is crispy, and the dish is prepared with vegetables and sweet-and-sour sauce. And it tastes even better with a side of rice or noodles!
  • Kung Pao tofu: Looking for a spicy vegan option? Kung Pao tofu, the vegan alternative to Kung Pao chicken, might be it for you! Prepared with cashews and vegetables, Kung Pao tofu tastes great with a side of rice. 

Rice and Noodle-Based Mains

We’ve looked at some great tofu-based entrée’s above, but what more vegan options are there? Let’s take a look!

  • Vegetable Chow Mein: Chow Mein noodles are typically made without eggs, but confirm this before buying a chow mein dish! Moreover, ask to make sure that the sauce does not contain anything non-vegan – sometimes, chefs add in oyster or fish sauce to give the dish a little extra flavor. These ingredients are totally non-vegan!
  • Vegetable Fried Rice: Made with finely chopped vegetables including carrots, capsicum, cabbage, onions, and green chili, who doesn’t love vegetable fried rice? The egg-less variant though! 

Vegetable Mains

stir fry vegetable

What would a vegan food list be without the vegetable-main options? Well, you won’t have to find out, because we’re going to cover those right now!

  • Vegetable Stir Fry: With finely chopped, assorted vegetables cooked in oil and served with your favorite vegan sauce (you can inquire about the sauces available), vegetable stir fry is a great entrée that pairs nicely with a side of rice. 
  • Peanuts and Spinach: This traditional, healthy Chinese cuisine is a treat for your taste buds, and most importantly, it’s vegan-friendly! The dish is prepared with spinach, garlic, and, of course, peanuts. Some restaurants also include a dash of wasabi root, to give the dish an extra kick. Highly Recommended!

Finishing Up with Dessert

Let’s move on to everyone’s favorite part of the meal. Many Chinese restaurants serve tofu pudding, a smooth, delicious dish that’s usually topped with ginger syrup to balance the pudding sweetness with a hint of spice. Oh and tofu pudding is, of course, vegan friendly!

Ensuring Your Favourite Chinese Food is Vegan

Is any Chinese food vegan? Certainly, and we’ve taken a look at several tasty dishes by this point. You may have picked up on a general pattern of what to look out for when ordering Chinese vegan food, however, let’s have a quick recap, to summarize what we’ve learned.

Tofu over Meats

Many Chinese dishes, that would otherwise be meat-based, can be substituted with tofu. It is a good alternative to animal-based products because of its high protein content and taste. So even a dish you like is only displayed as, say, chicken-based on the menu, go ahead and ask your server if it can be substituted with tofu!

Avoiding Eggs – Ask About the Noodles!

Vegan-friendly noodles are made with wheat flour, oil, and water only. But when ordering a dish like chow mein, make sure that the noodles do not contain egg as an ingredient.

Watch Out for the Sauces

Some Chinese dishes that may seem vegan on the menu, maybe cooked or served with non-vegan sauces such as oyster sauce or fish sauce. So before ordering any Chinese food item off the menu, ask your server about the sauces that it contains.

So there you have it! We’ve taken a look at some delicious vegan-friendly Chinese food options so the next time that you’re in the mood for Chinese food, you know what to order!

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