Most Chinese vegetarians are Buddhists, following the Buddhist teachings about minimizing suffering. In addition, many Yoga enthusiasts in China are vegetarians or vegans. Nowadays, in order to keep healthy and fit, more and more Chinese people who are not vegetarians or vegans, tend to eat vegetarian food from time to time. Therefore, vegetarian food is common and readily available in China, though vegetarianism is only practiced by a relatively small fraction of the population. Moreover, an emphasis on fresh vegetables makes Chinese cuisine perfect for vegetarians. The mainstays of Chinese cuisine, noodles, rice, tofu, and vegetables, are all fine for vegetarians. It takes some effort and a bit of flexibility to find fine vegetarian food in many restaurants, which do not have vegetarian menus.
Besides large varieties of vegetables, Chinese vegetarian food often uses tofu (bean curd), dry bean curd, nuts, mushrooms, fungi and water plants as its ingredients. Interestingly, you will frequently find dishes resembling a type of meat or seafood. For example, in Fried Mock Oyster, mashed tofu pieces are shaped like an oyster. Besides good taste, Chinese vegetarian food emphasizes appearance, displaying a harmonious balance of colors and textures as well as flavors.
Here is a list of common Chinese vegetarian dishes and/or street food, including names in Chinese, Pinyin and English.