Zero Waste Shanghai
A starter’s guide to plant-based restaurants in Shanghai
There is no better time in our modern history to eat plant-based food. With waves of innovations taking place in the plant-based space, and record numbers of people consciously reducing their meat consumption, we’re making history with our stomach. Did you know that Shanghai has one of the best plant-based food scenes in Asia? Let’s find out.
In China, vegetarianism is strongly associated with Buddhism. Therefore, all the Chinese plant-based restaurants you find in Shanghai have some elements of Buddhism in their menu or interior design. On the other hand, the recent movement to eat plant-based food that started in the west finds expression in another type of establishments- ones that feature healthy and holistic living in their branding (Tribe, Sproutworks, Green&Safe). Some other cuisines are originally more plant-based, such as Indian and Mediterranean, which we won’t cover in this article.
Gwen’s Jiang 葛温蔬食
Key words: Cozy, value, flavor
You’re trying to get a healthy and filling meal after a workout or on your way home, or you’re meeting up with a friend for a casual catch-up, Gwen’s Jiang’s a nice spot as its menu (Chinese, Thai, Mediterranean, etc.) is as accommodating as its prices. Although a bit small, any kind of palate can find satisfaction between the famed power bowls, soups and salads.
Phone: 139 1824 5404
Jen Dow 台湾人道素菜馆
Key words: Buddhist, buffet
Located next to Jing’an Temple, I highly recommend taking your friends to Jen Dow for a meal after visiting the temple. It is canteen style on the first floor and a-la-carte on the second floor. But the part most worth going is the buffet on the third floor. At 198RMB, it’s worth the price in order to try a broad range of plant-based dishes from the Chinese cuisine. You would often see monks and nuns eating there too.
Phone: 021 5168 8077
Key words: Budget-friendly, buffet
A plant-based buffet that costs 32.8RMB, simple as that. It’s very popular among the Chinese plant-based community for its budget-friendliness. Get there early as there are lines to get in sometimes. You also need to be in and out in 45min.
Phone: 021 6312 9232
Key words: Trendy, organic, large menu
Chick pea salad, smoked tofu, yogurt fruit bowl, beet burger, vegan carrot cake, Yunnan glass noodle soup, and so much more. Tribe impresses with an extensive menu that works for everyone. Make sure to take advantage of their daily deals.
Phone: 021 6093 2982
Key words: Off the beaten path, temple, budget
Located in the temple of Fazangjiangsi (法藏讲寺), this hidden gem serves authentic Buddhist fare at a budget price. Make sure to get the dumpling soup. At dinner time during the week, you’re likely to find that you’re the only customers there- a testament to its low profile, not the quality of its food. For additional privacy, go up to the second floor. After the meal, casually slip out the back door into the temple for a tour. Tip: they will let you into the temple from the restaurant even after the temple is closed, and you could catch their evening ceremony if you’re lucky.
Phone: 131 2070 2586
A number of other restaurants deserve to be on this list. For healthy and casual dining, consider Sproutworks and Green&Safe. For a Chinese philosophy-inspired dining experience with a Michelin star, consider Wujie.
Do you have a favorite on or off this list? Let us know in the comments below.
All photos are from the app Dianping点评.