Spurred by health concerns and Buddhist benefits, vegetarianism is taking root in China

Xing Lihong decided to go vegan after spending a week at the Donglin Temple, Jiangxi province, in the summer of 2005—but she’d been readying herself for the decision since 2002; after reading Buddhist and nutritional texts, she began abstaining from meat on the first and 15th of every lunar month.

“At first, I felt hungry and craved for meat,” Xing confessed. “I often ate a lot after the two ‘vegetarian days,’ as a form of compensation.” But gradually she got used to the new regimen. “I’m convinced that ‘everything has a spirit,’ and it’s this belief that makes me stick to it.”

Xing is just one of a growing number of Chinese choosing to reject a traditional carnivorous diet in favor of a meat-free life. There are now around 50 million vegetarians in China, Xinhua estimates—about 3.5 percent of the population.

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author Sun Jiahui (孙佳慧)

Sun Jiahui is a freelance writer and former editor at The World of Chinese. She writes about Chinese language, society and culture, and is especially passionate about sharing stories of China's ancient past with a wider audience. She has been writing for TWOC for over six years, and pens the Choice Chengyu column.

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