happy Chinese new year! – and some vegan Chinese food to celebrate

Posted on January 23, 2012


Today (23rd January) is the first day of the Chinese new year, on the first day of the lunar year – 2012 is the auspicious Year of the Dragon. In Chinese culture, the Dragon is regarded as a divine creature and is a symbol of good fortune and intense power. The new year is the biggest festival of the year in China, and the new year meal is an important part of it; it is a celebration of past, present and future, with the whole family sharing a feast of many dishes.

Symbolic new year recipes include jiaozi (dumplings), spring rolls, lettuce wraps, flowering Chinese chives, the Buddhist vegetarian dish ‘Buddha’s Delight’ which is traditionally served on new year’s day, and the sweet Eight Precious Pudding. Jiaozi are round dumplings which symbolise prosperity and family reunion, and are traditionally made and shared on new year’s eve by the whole family. Spring rolls look a bit like gold bullion. The Cantonese word for ‘lettuce’ sounds like rising fortune, so it is common to serve lettuce wraps filled with other lucky food. Buddha’s Delight is a popular new year’s day dish and is loaded with symbolism: it is a Buddhist tradition that no animal or fish should be killed on the first day of the lunar year. Vegetables are considered to be purifying, and many of the ingredients in this dish, from lily buds to fungus, have their own special significance. Chinese garlic chives symbolize eternity. Eight is considered to be a lucky number because the Chinese word for eight sounds like ‘fortune’. Red and gold are lucky, so decorate with red and gold, and give gifts of money in red envelopes. Oranges or tangerines are eaten to promote wealth, as the Mandarin word for them sounds similar to gold.

There are many delicious Chinese dishes that are vegan/vegetarian or can be veganised, and just a few of these are stir-fried sesame broccoli, Chinese ‘seaweed’ (bok choi), toasted or roasted seaweed, crunchy cucumber salad, fried mock oyster, vegetable chow mein, almond tofu, cabbage rolls, spinach in garlic sauce with lemon, five spice vegetables, black bean and mushroom stir fry, Kung Pao tofu, mock duck in rice pancakes, orange not-chicken, pineapple sweet and sour seitan, chili oil, spiced black rice cakes with lime drizzle, spicy sesame peanut noodles, and ginger rice. Drinks include green tea, fresh lemonade, and ginger juice.

Have a lucky and vegan 2012.

See recipes at:


Buddha’s delight – www.vegetarianrecipesandcooking.com/vegetarian-buddhas-delight-recipe.php
spring rolls – www.ivu.org/recipes/chinese/spring-rolls.html
jiaozi – www.bellaonline.com/articles/art174708.asp
Eight Precious Pudding – http://chinesefood.about.com/od/desserts/r/preciouspudding.htm
orange not-chicken – www.vegetarianrecipesandcooking.com/vegetarian-orange-chicken-recipe.php
cabbage rolls – www.vegetarianrecipesandcooking.com/vegetarian-cabbage-rolls-recipe.php
crunchy cucumber salad – www.ivu.org/recipes/chinese/crunchy.html
fried mock oyster – http://chinesefood.about.com/od/vegetarianrecipes/r/mockoyster.htm
Kung Pao tofu – www.vegetarianrecipesandcooking.com/vegetarian-kung-pao-tofu-recipe.php
chili oil – www.vegetarianrecipesandcooking.com/vegetarian-chili-oil-recipe.php
stir-fried sesame broccoli – www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/spicy-sesame-broccoli/
five spice vegetables – www.ivu.org/recipes/chinese/chinese-five.html
black bean and mushroom stir fry – www.ivu.org/recipes/chinese/black.html
vegetable chow mein – www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/vegetablechowmein_11600
mock duck pancakes – www.viva.org.uk/recipes/international/mockduck.html
spiced black rice cakes with lime drizzle – www.recipes.vegsoc.org/recipe.aspx?cId=345
spicy sesame peanut noodles – http://vegetarian.about.com/od/pastaandnoodlerecipes/r/spicypeanutnood.htm
spinach in garlic sauce with lemon – www.ivu.org/recipes/chinese/spinach-in.html
pineapple sweet and sour seitan – www.ivu.org/recipes/chinese/pineapple.html
ginger rice – www.ivu.org/recipes/chinese/chinese-gingered.html

NB  Rice pancakes are vegan; soba noodles, ramen noodles and rice noodles are vegan. Or you can go raw and make your own courgette noodles…


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