November 18, 2013

Vegan101Girl Goes to (and Comes Back From) China! Part One

Climbing the Great Wall

I know, I know, I have some explaining to do. In my last post, I told you all that I would be living in China for a lot longer than two month, but unfortunately, life had other plans. 

The Summer Palace

Steven and I moved to Beijing, China in August and returned to the US in October two months later. Life in China was very very hard. It makes me sad that we decided to leave, but it was the right thing to do.

The Forbidden City

Several things happened that caused us to come to this decision. First, I got incredibly ill in China and was missing a lot of work. I was having horrible fevers/chills/sweats and the smog and air pollution was making me congested, I was having trouble breathing, and I couldn’t stop coughing. The air was unhealthy to breath and my lungs and throat constantly hurt. At one point, I had to go to the hospital. I was taken to the international wing, where I ended up standing in line for a doctor next to the jazz singer Patti Austin! So insane!
The smoggy sky is almost the same color as the fireworks smoke in the middle of the day.


It was also impossible to be vegan or gluten-free in China. Seriously, I had no idea. It was literally not possible to be vegan or gluten-free. There is no word in Chinese for vegan. We couldn’t even eat tofu, because in China, tofu is not seen as a meat substitute, it is seen as just another type of meaty texture. Tofu in China is cooked in meat juices/fat/lard. 
The only tofu we ate in China. It wasn't until afterwards that we found out tofu is cooked in meat juices.
On top of that, Beijing is known for its wheat products (of course) and everything had wheat in it. Restaurants could not comprehend our request that our food be vegan and this always ended with us being told they could only serve us plain white rice with bok choy or cabbage.

Pretty much every restaurant told us that this was the extent of their vegan cooking.

 The worst part was that all the food in Beijing is DRIPPING with oil. It was honestly disgusting. I took a lot of restaurant food pictures, but I’m too embarrassed to show you all what we had to eat. It was really frustrating, because many of the vegetable dishes would have been really healthy if they hadn’t been drenched and drowning in a lake of oil. 

Mushrooms and Bok Choy dripping in oil.

Eggplant and Green Beans sitting in a lake of oil.
Health is so important to me and between the disgusting diet and the polluted air, my health morals felt totally compromised and that made me very uncomfortable and anxious.

We were also having a lot of problems with our company that we were working for and the apartment we were living in. The company was being dishonest and lying to us about things. We were also witnessing some terrifying and inappropriate behavior at the school we teaching at.  

All these things were just too much. My passion is in veganism, healthy eating and living, animals, and the environment. That was all gone there. We were unhappy and unhealthy, so we made the tough decision to come home and start over from square one. We are now in the process of finding jobs that are meaningful and fulfilling and healthy. 

With all that bad though, there was some triumphant vegan good! Stay tuned for Part Two where I review and tell you all about the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Beijing.  
Our favorite bean burger from a VEGAN!! restaurant in Beijng.


  1. wow, I just wrote on your vegan 101 blog then read on to see how china was. I could never exist there due to the terrible pollution! i am a retired teacher living in Asheville. I would love to have your exact Green Goddess Smoothie recipe. Also, I don't care to bother making almond milk. I think all almond products you buy have a known carcinogen, carragenen in them. any recommendations for commercial brands to buy? i stopped eating tofu and soy...
    thank you!

  2. also, I couldn't locate the breakfast bar recipe when i clicked the furnished link...
    many thanks

  3. I also want to tell you that I returned from Washington DC where blocks from the White House and Capitol buildings Chinese women were trying to educate people about the illegal murders and sale of organs. they imprison and murder peaceful citizens to harvest organs...