Veganuary is the latest in portmanteau awareness campaigns, mixing ‘vegan’ and ‘January’ to implore you to eat vegan for the next 31 days. And while, admittedly, these two words don’t make the most natural aural blend, in overall principle it’s a pretty commendable challenge.
For anyone unfamiliar with or only half up-to-speed on veganism, it’s the practice of avoiding meat, dairy, eggs or any other product derived from animals. Masochistic, we know.
But there’s a method to this madness, and it’s not all applesauce and hippie nonsense.
It’s long been reported that mass meat farming and consumption have a negative effect on our environment and bodies, not to mention on the animals themselves. So all those reasons you’re going meat-free on Mondays – it applies for veganism, too. It’s just better.
Why? Because eggs, milk, yogurt and even honey have their own detrimental footprint that you might be concerned about. Even if you’re not, if you could cut something adverse out of your diet, wouldn’t it make sense to at least try doing it, see how it felt? For even just a month?
And that’s where Veganuary comes in.
So, if you’re so inclined, or maybe just too lazy to commit to a whole twelve months of resolution-keeping, here are some of our favourite vegan haunts around Beijing (yes, really!) to keep you going through the month.
The Veggie Table
This place deserves a parade thrown by the vegans of Beijing. An uncompromising kitchen stocks and prepares only vegan ingredients, so there’s virtually no chance of accidentally ingesting some egg on their watch. But beyond the sterling ethics of the back of house, there’s also an impressive and innovative Western menu at play that shouldn’t scare off your non-vegan buddies from joining you for dinner.
Shiitake mushroom burger, grilled PB&J, double chocolate cake – pretty much everything here hits the mark in terms of flavour and good karma to boot. We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention the ace up their green sleeve, vegan pizza (with cheese!). Get down to Wudaoying Hutong and get to know this place this month.
SUHU – Vegetarian Tiger
One of a few Chinese vegan offerings in Wudaokou, this well-hidden restaurant serves up an extensive menu of mock meat dishes, among other things, that will test the limits of what you thought you knew about bean curd gastronomy. Black pepper spare ribs, curry-flavoured shengjian biao, salmon sashimi – the people behind the menu at SUHU are sorcerers of soy and gluten. To really see what the kitchen’s made of, order the whole fish, a painstakingly constructed dish of fish-shaped wheat gluten that’s wrapped in seaweed and laced with mushrooms and other cooked veggie bits, then doused in a thick hoisin sauce and topped with peanuts. So real yet so fake – it’s never tasted so good eating green.
SUHU – Vegetarian Tiger 203 Southeast Huyuan Office Building, 88 Shuangqing Lu, Haidian district. See full address here.
High Mountain Tea
This small unassuming tea shop on Yonghegong Lu takes vegan at-home cuisine to unimaginable new places. Rest no longer on the laurels of wok-fried veggies, High Mountain Tea’s stock of dairy-free meat alternatives is affordable and insanely varied for all your cooking desires. Chicken sausage, meat floss, cuttlefish balls — you name it and it’ll likely be hiding on the shelves or in the freezer case here. Bust out your inner Nigella without harming a single living creature.
Besides our listed favourites, there’s also way more vegan options in Beijing than you might think. With the world’s largest Buddhist population (who traditionally follow a vegan diet), China is teeming with Buddhist temples that either offer their own dairy-free menu or have neighbouring vegan restaurants to accommodate visitors.
If that wasn’t enough to get on board with Veganuary, here’s five more reasons from some of Britain’s funniest vegans.