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In Shanghai for one month!

Sa R

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Hello friends! So i will be spending a month in Shanghai, Fudan Uni this July-August. Anyone from there? I m going there for a summer program. I would really appreciate if any international students currently studying there could help me out with things such as :


Food on campus or outside (I am a strict vegetarian!)

Best way to travel from airport to the Uni (Iwont be having much luggage since only for a month)


Since it will be the summer, any suggestions?


Also, for an international student what are the most highly recommended spots to visit? Due to time constraints I doubt I will be able to see a lot.


Lastly, anyone been to Shanghai Disneyland? Is it worth it?


Any other advice/suggestions highly appreciated. It is going to be my first time travelling in China. I have a HSK 4 and HSKK 2 proficiency and am very comfortable with conversations in Chinese.


Thank you!




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You might be surprised to discover that strict vegetarian restaurants in Mainland China are pretty scarce. Of course there are options in a city as large as Shanghai, and you can use online resources to find them. But practically speaking you may end up cooking most of your own meals, if you have access to a kitchen.


Yes, you can always explain to the waiting staff in any restaurant that you're strictly vegetarian, but expect the kitchen staff to whip up your meal without much heed to your instructions. Steamed rice would be safe, not sure about anything else.

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Not been my experience at all @889 in getting on for twenty years as a vegan in China, I've had very little problem even out in the sticks so long as you can communicate. Loads of veg restaurants in Beijing now too compared to back in the day; don't know Shanghai but a Dianping search turns up 254: https://www.dianping.com/search/keyword/1/0_上海素食餐厅

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In Beijing I think that many higher end restaurants and those more centrally are quite accommodating. This includes many smaller ones. A friend who cannot eat anything with gluten in came here and most restaurants were great. A few ones you’d expect to be good just weren’t though. 


However, most vegetarians I know tend to be quite flexible about it to get by with eating out in China. I mean things like just picking vegetables out of dishes that have meat in sometimes! It just depends where you are, how receptive they are and your Chinese. 


There are a few Chinese vegetarian restaurants around in Beijing though, so I’m sure Shanghai has some. Who knows if they’ll be near you. Otherwise most Chinese restaurants do have a nice selection of vegetable dishes. The main thing to watch out for is them randomly sprinkling meat in them. 


My workmate has been to Shanghai Disneyland twice and loved it. It is very Chinese though. 

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11 minutes ago, Jim said:

twenty years as a vegan in China,


@Jim, have you distilled this knowledge anywhere on the forums here?   It would be super-helpful.


(FWIW I'll be in Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing and Hangzhou in July...) 



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"I've had very little problem even out in the sticks so long as you can communicate."


Point is, she says she's strictly vegetarian. As ChTTay mentions, the basic stock thrown in with everything often has a meat base. And those suspiciously greasy fried vegetable noodles are probably fried with some pork fat, like so many other dishes, fried vegetables particularly. That is, what you get may look like it's vegetarian, but don't bet your life on it, if you're that kind of vegetarian.


But yes, so long as you're not the suspicious type and eat pretty much whatever is put in front of you provided it doesn't have diced Spam or such in it, you'll be OK. Must be an equivalent chengyu out there for "What you don't know can't hurt you."

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22 minutes ago, mungouk said:

@Jim, have you distilled this knowledge anywhere on the forums here?   It would be super-helpful.

Afraid not, thought there's a fair few resources on the web as I recall. I am sort of unfussy, in that e.g. when i used to do rural work i wouldn't enquire too deeply if a farming family had made me veg and it might have been lard since i appreciated the effort but with restaurants definitely always able to get them to leave out stock and animal fats etc. I am also happy to eat the same old stuff for days if it's all i can get, as has happened in Tibet.

ETA Think there's a lot less lard about in general now as it costs more, you'd probably have to ask specially for it if you wanted it.

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On 5/27/2018 at 3:57 PM, Sa R said:

I am aware of this..I had a few friends who faced this issue so they just ate rice for 20 days once they found it out. 


That sounds really grim!   If nothing else it would be good to learn to order two or three common vegetables to supplement that steamed rice. My short list would be these three: 

1. 蒜泥炒菠菜 -- suan ni chao bocai -- stir fried spinach with minced garlic. If you don't want garlic, then it's 清炒菠菜 qingchao bocai. 

2. 拍黄瓜 -- pai huang gua  -- broken up cucumber (with a sauce of soy sauce and vinegar.)

3. 苦菜汤 -- kucai tang -- clear soup made from a (slightly) bitter green leafy vegetable.  


Are you able to eat eggs? I was assuming not, but maybe I'm wrong. If you can eat eggs, then you are all set. 番茄炒鸡蛋 can become your new best friend. Scrambled eggs with tomatoes. 


Tofu is a good staple protein source. Comes in many forms. Popular all over China. 


I'll bet someone like Jim could give you a lot more help if you asked. 


On 5/26/2018 at 11:38 PM, Jim said:

...in getting on for twenty years as a vegan in China, I've had very little problem even out in the sticks so long as you can communicate.


I would also suggest that you locate any Buddhist enclaves near where you will study and live, such as a small monastery or working temple. They will probably serve some vegetarian meals for the public at specified hours. Furthermore, they can point you to some other resources. Places they have found that can supply the sort of food you are seeking. Often these are nearby. 


It would also help a lot if you are allowed to cook at least some of your own food. Perhaps the dorm has a shared kitchen area. 


(I'm not vegetarian, but have had local vegetarian friends.) 

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21 hours ago, Sa R said:

Best way to travel from airport to the Uni


There's lots of great travel information at https://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/shanghai/pudong-airport.htm and  https://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/shanghai/hongqiao-airport.htm (and just click around the site generally for stuff on trains and the metro, Shanghai Public Transportation Card etc).  I guess you'll probably arrive at Pudong Airport. 






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A couple other "short list" dishes which don't contain meat that you can find at any small restaurant:


1. 豌豆尖豆腐汤 -- wandoujian doufu tang -- clear soup made with shoots and leaves of the pea plant plus tofu.

2. 绿豆炒玉米粒 -- lvdou chao yumili -- stir fried peas and corn kernels. Sometimes this is made with diced carrots as well. 萝卜丁。

3. 洋芋丝 -- yangyu si -- stir fried potato slivers, often with bits of red and green peppers. (Also called 土豆丝 -- tudou si.)

4. 藕片凉拌 -- oupian liangban -- lotus root slices salad.



In short, you need become proficient in ordering about a half a dozen dishes that you enjoy. Learn how to say them, and have them written out in clear, large Chinese Hanzi characters, maybe even with illustrations clipped from the internet. I've given you a couple soups and a couple of salads, in addition to some hot dishes. 


If you know these, then you will survive in grand style. Also, a restaurant employee will be able to say, "Hmm, we don't have this today, but we have something similar, namely "xxxyyy" -- would you like to try it instead?"


And of course you will need to be able to explain that you are vegetarian and don't eat meat or meat products. Some other members who are vegetarians themselves can help you with that better than I can. 




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