How to find vegan/vegetarian food in Taiwanese (or Chinese) stores

So, I know I keep telling everyone about how amazing Taiwanese stores are, and showing off all the delicious vegan foods I find there…but some recent conversations have made me realize that I haven’t explained how I’ve been finding them!

So for those of you who want to try this out for yourselves, here’s what I do. I write down the following character on a piece of paper:

Then, I walk into a Taiwanese grocers (if there are no Taiwanese stores in your area, Chinese markets will often carry some Taiwanese goods), and show them the piece of paper and tell them that’s what I’m looking for. That simple!

(Note that this will not work in Japanese stores, as their writing system is different)

I figure the character on top means “vegan” or “vegetarian”, and the character on the bottom just means “food”. So, the top character is what’s most important.

For example, you’ll see labels that look like this:

Oftentimes, there is no English labeling, so that’s where the piece of paper comes in handy!

Plus, this same character appears in Taiwanese/Chinese restaurants, so if you see these characters in a restaurant, it’s safe for you to eat there (in my experience)!

From what I understand, there’s something about the dietary requirements of a particular practice of Buddhism that many people follow in Taiwan (someone please correct me if I’m mistaken!) which leads most Taiwanese grocers to have a pretty impressive selection of vegan/vegetarian goods.

Good luck (:

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5 thoughts on “How to find vegan/vegetarian food in Taiwanese (or Chinese) stores

  1. Great post! In addition to excluding animal products, Chinese vegetarian food also excludes garlic and onions and leeks, like that restaurant sign in the last photo. It is from the Buddhist influence.

  2. Thanks!!
    Yes, I only just recently discovered that interesting part of the dietary practice when I met an elderly Buddhist man in the shops the other day who was sad that he couldn’t buy the spinach pastries because of the garlic in them ):

  3. Great & good usable advice, I say! 🙂 In Brussels & Antwerp, we have several large Asian supermarkets! I go there all the time for my tofu, soy sauce, etc.

  4. Glad you like it! Yup, so many Asian markets in my area too! I just think they’re really great for finding health foods at decent prices (:

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