In the not so distant past, ordering a Chinese takeaway as vegan meant you were often left with chips or boiled rice as your only options.
Either that or you’d be at the mercy of the chef and whether or not they’d be willing to make changes to eliminate the meat or dairy element.
Most places will happily do so, but thankfully, the rest of the world is starting to catch up on the benefits of veganism.
Or, at the very least, they’re jumping on the bandwagon to capitalize on its rising commercial success.
Even mainstream brands that once specialized solely in animal or dairy food items are beginning to bring out plant-based alternatives to their most popular products.
Not to be left out, the majority of takeaway places have also started including more than just the standard token vegan option, meaning you can feast as much as the next person on an array of starters, sides, and main courses.
Of course, Chinese food lends itself to veganism already because of the variety of vegetable, legume, and tofu dishes on the menu. You can find some great Asian restaurant with Chinese food in Belfast, in you are lucky enough to go there.
Some were already doing their bit to cater to a vegan diet, but we’re happy to announce that these days there’s typically a whole range of vegan options to try from your local Chinese takeaway.
If you’re still feeling unsure, this article lists some of the tastiest takeaway options to consider the next time you’re in the mood for Chinese food.
There are also some tips on how to vegan-ize classic dishes by simply asking for certain ingredients to be left out.
While there may not be vegan prawn crackers widely available (yet!), there are still plenty of starters to snack on before diving into the main meal.
Alternatively, they’re great for munching on throughout dinner, but it’s best to finish them on the day you ordered as they tend not to reheat very well.
- Vegetable spring rolls
- Tempura vegetables
- Vegetable dumplings
Egg fried rice is one of the dishes most commonly associated with Chinese food, but it’s the primary ingredient that makes it unsuitable for vegans to eat.
Most places will leave out the egg from any fried rice dish if you request it when you’re ordering, or you can choose either boiled or steamed rice instead.
- Boiled rice
- Steamed rice
- Mushroom fried rice
- Vegetable fried rice
It varies between restaurants, but some Chinese takeaway places will serve egg noodles as the standard in their noodle dishes.
Before you order, it’s important to check if the noodles are made with egg as this is obviously unsuitable for vegans.
Some takeaway places will offer alternatives such as rice vermicelli noodles, flat, broad rice noodles, or wheat noodles.
Plain noodles with beansprouts make a great side, while vegetable or mushroom chow mein stand well on their own as a main dish.
- Fried noodles and beansprouts
- Vegetable chow mein
- Mushroom chow mein
Tofu lends itself particularly well to Chinese food, as it’s able to take on many of the spices and flavors that are traditionally used in this type of cooking.
It’s one of the most common vegan options you’ll find, although not every Chinese restaurant will serve it on the menu.
- Tofu with green peppers and black bean sauce
- Salt and pepper tofu with onions and garlic
- Tofu and broccoli with cashew nuts
- Tofu in sweet and sour sauce
Not a fan of tofu? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Depending on how it’s been prepared, tofu has yet to win over a lot of vegans.
Luckily, a large number of Chinese restaurants will also have mock ‘meat’ on the menu.
This is often made of seitan, tempeh, or another type of plant-based protein to mimic the taste and texture of meat.
They’re a great addition to your order if there are non-vegans eating with you as well because they’re so similar to traditional meat dishes.
- Mock chicken and cashew nuts
- Mock chicken with vegetables in sweet and sour sauce
- Mock duck pancakes
- Mock duck cooked in hoisin sauce
Most Chinese takeaways will have a number of vegetable-based sides on the menu, which is perfect if you try to stay away from too much fake meat as this is highly processed.
Even if you can’t see a vegetable dish on the menu, you can always ask the restaurant to fry some vegetables up for you and they are usually happy to oblige.
- Mixed vegetables in sweet and sour sauce
- Stir-fried pak choi
- Eggplant with garlic
- Sautéed green beans
- Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan)
We’ve already mentioned a few, but if you’re someone who couldn’t think of anything worse than a dry Chinese meal then knowing which sauces are typically vegan and which ones aren’t can be a lifesaver.
- Sweet and sour sauce
- Black bean sauce
- Schezwan sauce
- Curry sauce
As you can see from this article, deciding to cut out meat and dairy from your diet doesn’t mean you have to miss out.
These days, there are plenty of vegan Chinese takeaway options to choose from, and it’s easy enough to vegan-ize some of the key dishes of this cuisine.
One thing that’s hard for vegans when it comes to eating out is the fact that you have less control over what is going into a dish, and while you know exactly what you can and can’t eat, not everybody else will.
Some things to look out for and ask to be removed/substituted include egg (noodles or as an ingredient in fried rice), fish sauce, and honey, which is sometimes used in sauces or in certain main dishes.
We hope this article has shown you some of what there is on offer for vegans. We have plenty of others that could help you as well: our best vegan options from Five Guys, Prezzo and Yo! Sushi restaurants, but also from grocery stores such as Aldi (with plenty of Asian food!).
Remember to always check that a dish is vegan with your chosen takeaway as we can’t guarantee they’ll have been cooked the same way and therefore might not be suitable for vegans.
If you’re ever unsure, enquire with the restaurant about how certain dishes are cooked, and where you think it’s possible, politely ask them to make alterations or see if they can whip up one of the above-mentioned options. Provided they have the ingredients, most will happily do so.
Let us know what your favorite go-to Chinese takeaway order is in the comments!