Is a kind of complicated topic, so I try to express it as simpler as possible, be a vegetarian in China in general is quite hard especially when you don't cook at home and wanna go out to eat in Chinese restaurants, be vegan is even harder, (I am mostly vegan by the way).
If you hang out with Chinese friends or girlfriend (now, ex-gf in my case) you gonna encounter even more problems since they will bring you to the only Chinese restaurant, in Chinese culture eating and sharing the food on the same table is the most important moment for a family, friends, couple, co-worker, your boss etc,, if you don't enjoy the food people will look very down at you. Since the 90% of dish in a family/business table contains meat as vegetarian you will end up in just eating the side dish and you will ruin the supposedly joyful atmosphere, if you try to explain why you don't eat meat probably they will kick you out of the restaurant, if you say that is because of your religion (true or not) they will look at you while thinking "what is wrong with him".
So how can you been vegan/vegetarian and be accepted by the traditional Chinese society?
How can the parents or your girl-boy friend, generation or only meet
eater can accept you? and more important, what do you guys think, should just give up to be vegetarian just because in China in not well accepted and my ex-girlfriend ask me to do so because she is afraid that I will ruin all the happy moments on every table?
To add one more things, all this apply also the the Alcohol so, how can you deal the KTV, birthday or work party without join the endless ganbei beer just drinking don't lose face time? no way right?
The discussion is open, Thanks guys..
I have found the vegetarian life style to be pretty damn easy here. Let alone a safety branch from the risk of food poisoning, meals are pretty much 70% vegetables anyway - and such a variety might I say! Also all types of tofo, if you're into that. You won't find falafel or samosa but theres eggs vegetable pancakes which serve nicely for quick snacks.. regarding the general outlook on vegetarianism; often they will laugh, but I haven't heard anything about ruining the mood of a dinner. Unless you're sitting there in a sulk picking at the tsingtai, anybody worth dining with should be openminded enough to understand its a lifestyle choice. I do recommend cooking yourself though, it's tastier.
Yes, is not hard here in Kunming since you can find a lot of vegetable years round, and yes I cook at home, but my point is about the social problems, the integration with the Chinese mind, the things is that even if ex girlfriend understand the benefit of be vegetarian she won't allow me to be vegetarian because in China is too complicated for the fact as I say that when you go out with non-vegetarian Chinese you can't share properly the food on the table. Anybody vegetarian in a relationship with Chinese girl/boy having this problem?
'if you try to explain why you don't eat meat probably they will kick you out of the restaurant' haha I assume/hope that is hyperbole for comic effect!
Look at it this way, if they can't accept your perfectly acceptable (and commendable) diet choice, they aren't worth being friends with anyway. I'm not a vegetarian now but I used to not eat meat most of the time (only a few times a year at Christmas etc) when I was growing up and I have several friends who are vegan or vegetarian, and totally respect people who can maintain that kind of diet in spite of the difficulties you describe.
For many years the majority of Chinese were Buddhist and many of them were vegetarian, so arguably being vegetarian is just as 'Chinese' eating meat.
And, I'm sure you know better than me, but in case you don't, there are a few vegetarian restaurants in Kunming. The one in the new restaurant 'backstreet' area off Hong Shan Dong Lu looks nice in terms of interior decoration! You could take a girl on a date there..
Description of problems is informative and pretty much conforms to what I'd expect. Acceptance of 'new' ideas comes hard for many.
You guys are right, maybe is not worth to stay with a girl that doesn't accept me as vegetarian (and not drinker) but care more about don't lose face with her parents and friends.
Maybe China still need time to figure out what is more important between a wise decision and the appearance to others. Perhaps one day they will copy also this lifestyle from the west, since the need of a religion believes I think won't come back.
This all goes in the 爱面子 social problem of Chinese current culture.
You won't lose face, as long as the girl lets her parents know in advance so they don't freak out when you don't eat meat at dinner. There are apparently loads of vegetarians in China (more than any other country in the world after India), I'm sure you can find a vegetarian girlfriend, perhaps even with vegetarian parents if you're lucky!
there are many buddhist canteens around town (a really good one very close to yunda south gate on wenlinjie). give it a try! it's basically all vegan, and it's delicious!
It shouldn't be difficult to be a vegetarian in Kunming. There are quite a few vegetarian restaurants in all corners of the city. Plus there's the option to cook at home. Vegetables and fruits are super cheap compared to other cities in China. Just make new vegetarian friends.