I eat vegetables.
That’s how to say “I am vegetarian” in Mandarin.
I’ve already practiced this little phrase, quietly saying it to myself and hoping I’m getting the tones right. It’s my lifeline. Through these three syllables, I hope not to find myself staring a plate filled with tiny bits of pork or slender slices of beef or pink curled-up shrimp.
There’s also wo chi zhai, which is a more Buddhist way of saying it. But it’s not as well known, and apparently it can imply that I don’t eat onions and other things that I find rather delicious.
Oh, and I’ve just discovered a lovely phrase – wo bu chi rou, wo chi shu cai – which means that I do not eat meat, I eat vegetables. I like how specific it is. In fact, I think I’ll revise my mutterings.