This month on our journey we’re going to visit Taiwan! Often named as one of the best vegan destinations in the world, Taiwan’s large Buddhist population means that the approach to food is similar to that of the vegan cuisine. So put on your backpack and let’s check out why Taiwan is considered by many to be a vegan paradise.
As we’ve already mentioned, about 30% of Taiwan’s population are Buddhists, many of which abstain from eating meat. That puts Taiwan at the top of the world when it comes to the number of vegetarians, an astonishing 14% of the population by some estimates.
Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, keeps ranking high whenever “top ten” lists about the best cities for vegans are published. With over 6,000 vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants, it's no wonder at all that Taipei came first in PETA’s top-ten most vegan-friendly cities in Asia
Food labeling laws are very strict in Taiwan. The law states that Food must not only be labeled as vegetarian but must also specify whether or not it is vegan, vegan without onion, garlic, and related herbs (for Buddhist reasons), Lacto-veg (no milk), ovo-veg (no eggs) or Lacto-ovo veg (no eggs or milk). Companies not compliant with the regulation might be heavily fined.
The phrase “Wǒ chī quán sù” means “I eat entirely pure” and it is often used to explain that you are vegan in Mandarin Chinese. This terminology stems from the religious belief that by avoiding meat and animal products, one keeps a pure mind, becomes more compassionate, and betters their karma. Eating “entirely pure” also means avoiding other ingredients that are considered to affect their consciousness according to Buddhist belief such as ginger, garlic, onions, spring onions, leeks, and alcohol.
In recent years there has been a shift in the reasons that bring some of the younger population of Taiwan to become vegan. “Secular” veganism focuses more on the health, moral and environmental benefits of veganism, shifting the focus away from religious restrictions, thus making veganism even more popular and approachable.
Aa part of this ongoing shift, the younger generation of vegan activists in Taiwan have come up with an amazing way to promote the vegan lifestyle in 2015 when they started throwingTVF (Taiwan Vegan Frenzy), an event showcasing the newest products and services where visitors get to try, buy, and get detailed information about a large variety of vegan food and non-food-products. Since then it’s been held 14 times (with the next one set for Nov. 20-21, you can still make it!) and it was a big hit every single time, attracting thousands of vegan foodies, activists, families, and even curious bystanders.
Meatless Monday is BIG in Taiwan, only over there it’s called “Green Monday”. Officially launched in 2019, the program encouraged over 1,000 restaurants to add at least 3 plant-based menu items and worked with Taiwan’s biggest fast food chain Bafang Yunji to launch the sensational OmniPork dumplings, which were selling 1 million pieces per week across almost 1,000 stores.
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