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A Vegetarian Trains to Eat Meat in Prep for China Travel

The meat training came in handy in this China moment!
Eating fried duck feet in Yunyang, China!

If you are a vegetarian, you are either going to be inspired or disgusted by this article, but either way, you will likely have pondered a similar quandary: What is the best way to deal with vegetarianism during travel to a very different (read: “meaty”) culture?

Colin is a vegetarian and has been for years, chiefly for health reasons: veggies are healthier than meat, especially processed meat. Then we bought our China plane tickets for this summer, and Colin made the decision: like an Olympic athlete, he would go into intensive Meat Eating Training in order to be able to eat anything and everything that came his way in China!

“I don’t want to be left out of the cultural experience!” Colin declared, rubbing his belly in anticipation.

Tail of pig, chopped up nice and small. Oy!
Tail of pig, chopped up. Oy! (Or: Oynk!)

And so the training began.

Colin began by eating bites of chicken pizza that his friends and loved ones ordered. Then he began sharing meat dishes. Then he went ALL OUT and came with me to a haggis-eating party in Boston. (Click here for hilarious photos.) For those of you unaware, haggis is “a bunch of lamb parts cooked in a sheep’s stomach.” It was on that day that one of my blog readers commented, indignant: “THAT MAN IS NOT A VEGETARIAN.”

Clearly, Colin was ready for China.

What I didn’t anticipate was that Colin was even more ready for China meat than me! Here are some of the amazing beasts this man consumed, thus proving the thoroughness of his training:

Dipping squid in oil during Hot Pot.
Dipping squid in spicy oil during Hot Pot.

1. Duck feet (pictured in the lead photo, like evil witch hands).

2. Tail of pig. (I told Colin I would eat it with him, and even lifted a piece with my chopsticks… but just couldn’t do it! Colin, however, did. Respect!)

3. Squid tentacle (dipped in hot oil).

4. A McDonald’s Hamburger for breakfast. (This was not our choice! Read the Great Wall Hike article by clicking here to find out why.)

5. A shrimp with the full head and beady eyes still intact. (See the 16-hour train article for photos of this little guy.)

6. Lots and lots of pork and meat nuggets, in everything, whether we asked for them or not. (Even green beans are cooked in China with chunks of meat!)

Frankly (take that as a hot dog reference), we have no idea what we would have done if Colin had not undergone his Olympic Meat-Eating training. He would have been sad, hungry, and sick of rice by the end of our trip. His pre-trip regimen paid off! And now he’s going to detox for the next six months.

Vegetarians, what’s YOUR tactic during meat-ful travels?


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Friday 28th of February 2014

Hi Ms. Marshall!

I am a vegetarian, and I cope!!! I find that tofu is a great way to get enough protein, and my Mom makes the BEST chicken pot pie using fake meat crumbles! Most people I say that to, are like, " Ew, tofu!" But It really is not that bad once you taste it. When I am in school ( Like the BLA cafeteria...) it does get a little tricky though!!!! Most days, lunch is all meat, and I get nothing. But then I go home, and fill up and all is good!!! Interesting article. A little grossed out right now, though, to be honest!


Friday 28th of February 2014

Hah! Thanks for sharing your story, Deanna! :)


Thursday 24th of May 2012

I'm vegetarian, and I don't know if I'd say I'm disgusted by the article. But I found it surprising that he would easily stop being vegetarian when faced with a challenge. I spent two years in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan - not an easy locale for a vegetarian. There are a lot of people in Japan who really don't understand the concept of vegetarianism. But I'm glad I tackled the challenges of being vegetarian in Japan. A great thing about being vegetarian in Japan was that I got personalized meals. When I traveled to Korea on vacation, I had a list of vegetarian-friendly restaurants.


Sunday 10th of June 2012

I forgot to add that in Korea, I was greatly assisted by the fact my two CouchSurfing hosts (two American cousins living together at the time) in Seoul were vegetarians. Prior to my arrival, one of them sent me a list of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Seoul. Also, when I lived in Japan (at least, the two years in Yamagata Prefecture), I had a book (I forgot the title)... sort of like a guide for vegetarians in Japan and it had a list of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the Land of the Rising Sun, which was really helpful when I traveled throughout the country.


Thursday 24th of May 2012

Ah, the secret perks of being a vegetarian abroad!

Oriana Hairston

Monday 27th of February 2012

He's totally not a vegetarian anymore!

Abby Murphy

Tuesday 24th of January 2012

Wow! You must be really proud of Colin to try and eat meat. I found it really funny when you said that he was more ready for China than you were!

Amy Huang

Friday 30th of December 2011

You are so lucky to travel everywhere and taste their food. All your articles of food are making me hungry!

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