Zen Mindful Eating for Buddha’s Birthday

While the news points to bat-eating habits of some Chinese as the unverified origins of the Corona virus, there is in fact a long tradition of having vegetarian food in China.

Chinese Buddhists (including the royal empire in ancient China) formed a habit of having vegetarian food which was light, easy on the stomach and steeped in religious beliefs. The Chinese Buddhist vegetarian food sought to imitate meat in taste and appearance by using soy-based foodstuff and variations of mushrooms. One can say that it was one of the first advocates of mock meat, now re-invented and re-marketed into a hip food like Beyond Meat.

30 Apr this year is Buddha’s birthday. To celebrate this day we present to you some Chinese Buddhist vegetarian dishes to try. For those of you who are not good with cooking or looking for an excuse to eat out, we list some Buddhist veggie eateries on the HK Island for you to try. Read on and enjoy 😊!

So, one of the main Chinese Buddhist vegetarian dishes is Buddha’s Delight (aka Luo Han Zhai 罗汉斋) . Legend has it that 18 monks (monks are called Luo Han in ancient Chinese) wanted to test the goddess Kwan Yin in her temple. The 18 monks shouted “We are so hungry, we’re practically starving” in the goddess’s temple. The goddess’ statue blinked and she delivered a hot dish of Buddha’s Delight for the monks to enjoy. In return, the monks gave the vegetarian food that they obtained from villagers to the goddess. The traditional Buddha’s Delight dish has 18 ingredients to represent the 18 monks, which ingredients are 3 types of mushrooms, 6 types of fungi and 9 types of shoots.