Meatless Monday – Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Officially we have entered into the Year of the Black Water Snake. So for this week’s Meatless Monday post we bring you:

Navigating Chinese New Year’s as a vegetarian/vegan.

New Year’s begins on the first day of the lunar-solar calendar that the Chinese have traditionally followed. The date varies year-to-year according to the moon cycles but usually falls sometime between mid-January to mid-February. Each year is represented by one of 12 animals and one of the 5 elements (earth, air, water, fire, metal). The cycle of animals repeats every 12 years with a different element attached. Celebrations tend to last for 15 days. Like any good festival food is involved. Check out the following links for traditional Chinese New Year Food:

Newspaper article chronicling Chinese New Year’s treats. Warning! Gratuitous picture of dead fish.
Chinese New Year Food

As the above lists attest there is little in the way for the hungry vegetarian let alone the vegan at Chinese New Year’s. Sweets, fruit and vegetable dumplings seem to be the order of the day.

When greeting someone in Mandarin Chinese the phrase ‘ni hau ma’ is used. Roughly translated it means ‘have you eaten today?‘ Food and eating figure very heavily in Chinese culture. In order to recognize and share in Chinese New Year’s as a vegetarian/vegan may I recommend creating your own feast.

To keep with tradition have pomelos and oranges in a bowl for guests to take. Vegetable dumplings make a good appetizer followed by a stir-fry of brown rice and an assortment of vegetables. Seasonings can include ginger, garlic and soy sauce. For an extra touch try vegan hoisin sauce to give added flavour and sweetness. Finish off the evening with a few sweets: almond cookies and sticky sesame seed balls. More sweet treat ideas:

Chinese New Year Desserts

Don’t feel like cooking? There are a number of restaurants that specialize in vegetarian/vegan Chinese food. Check out Happy Cow for listings in your area.

Gung Hay Fat Choy & Ni Hau Ma


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