Vegetarians in China: Adventures in translations

Talk about a travel keepsake for the scrapbook.

When my friend Alexia went to China recently, she kept having problems in local restaurants explaining that she was a vegetarian.

Her “no meat” pleading usually only got her “vegetarian meals with chicken.” If she was lucky.

So Alexia finally decided to talk to the concierge at her hotel. She begged him to write on a piece of paper in Chinese characters that she was a vegetarian.

That way, she could show the piece of paper in restaurants and they would know she didn’t eat meat, not even chicken, but that she was happy to eat anything with vegetables.

The concierge happily scribbled the Chinese characters for her.

Just to make sure he had written down the correct thing, she asked him to translate what he just wrote into English.

He was happy to do that. Above the Chinese characters, he wrote: “I don’t eat meat, eggs. I eat vag.”

Imagine flagging that one to a waiter at your local Hung Far Low restaurant. You would possibly be the most popular girl west of Shanghai.

Or maybe not. 

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