|Being a vegetarian in America is more and more common. So there are going to be lots of travelers who want to stick with their eating habits. So today, we are going to learn the word vegetarian. Now I had to tell you this but it’s going to be a very complicated issue. So after we learn the word, I will tell you exactly how this situation is going to be complicated. First the word vegetarian, 素食主义者(sùshí zhǔyì zhě). All right guys, let’s do the tones, 素(sù) fourth tone, falling tone, 素(sù). 食(shí) second tone, rising tone, 食(shí). 主(zhǔ) third tone, falling rising tone, 主(zhǔ). 义(yì) fourth tone, the falling tone, 义(yì). 者(zhě) third tone, falling rising tone, 者(zhě). 素食主义者(sùshí zhǔyì zhě). Let’s break it down by the different components, 素(sù) means vegetable, 食(shí) means food. So 素食(sù shí) means vegetable food. 素(sù) means element or component, 食(shí) means food and they have alternate version. 主义(zhǔyì) means doctrine or ism like communism or capitalism, hint, hint, hint, hint or in this case it’s vegetarianism. So together we have vegetable eat ism, vegetable eat doctrine, the belief of only eating vegetables or vegetarianism or vegetarian, alternate version. So together we have element eating ism, the belief of only eating elements. Somehow that means being a vegetarian and they have alternate version. So if you are in a restaurant and you want only vegetables. You don’t want to eat meat. You can say 我是素食主义者(Wǒ shì sùshí zhǔyì zhě.). 我(wǒ) is third tone, 是(shì) is fourth tone. Literally it means I am. So I am vegetarian, 我是素食主义者(Wǒ shì sùshí zhǔyì zhě.) After that, you can say 我不吃肉(Wǒ bù chī ròu.) The tones for this are 我(wǒ) third tone, falling rising tone, 不(bù) fourth tone, the falling tone, 吃(chī) first tone, the flat tone and then 肉(ròu) fourth tone, the falling tone. 我不吃肉(Wǒ bù chī ròu.) Component by component, this is 我(wǒ) I, third tone, 我(wǒ). 不(bù) no, fourth tone, the falling tone, 不(bù). 吃(chī) to eat, first tone, flat tone, 吃(chī). 肉(ròu) fourth tone, the falling tone, meat, 肉(ròu). 我不吃肉(Wǒ bù chī ròu.), I no eat meat, I don’t eat meat. So you say 我是素食主义者, 我不吃肉(Wǒ shì sùshí zhǔyì zhě, wǒ bù chī ròu.) I am a vegetarian, I don’t eat meat and no one will understand you. It’s fine Chinese but no one will understand you. They will say what, not even a little meat. Come on, what about this dish? It only has little meat. What about this? This is fish, vegetarians in China are extremely rare especially in normal Chinese society. The only vegetarians I have ever, ever met Buddhist monks living in monasteries. In normal Chinese society, almost no one is vegetarian. I have never met a person who was not a monk who was vegetarian. So most people, people working in restaurants do not understand this idea. Why would you be vegetarian? What’s the point in being vegetarian, do you just mean you don’t like meat? Well then that’s okay, we have stuff with a little bit of meat. How about you try this? It’s just fish. I have an Australian friend who was vegetarian. We were living together and he went out with some Chinese people and he told them he was vegetarian. He did not eat meat. He didn’t speak Chinese but he tried to explain this in English, I am vegetarian, I don’t eat meat and he asked them to order for him because of course the menu was only in Chinese. He thought they are playing a joke on him because when he got his dish, it consisted of five fish heads sitting in oil. Probably they weren’t playing a joke on him. They just didn’t understand. They thought yeah, okay you don’t like meat, so here Fish and in China, Fish heads are considered a delicacy. So possibly, the only sure way to make sure you don’t get any meat is to say, I am Buddhist, 我是佛教(Wǒ shì fójiào). The tones on this are 我(wǒ) third tone, 我(wǒ). 是(shì) fourth tone, 是(shì). 佛(fó) second tone, 佛(fó). 教(jiào) fourth tone, 教(jiào). 我是佛教(Wǒ shì fójiào) And it means literally I am Buddhist. The problem with this is, Buddhists in addition to not eating meat often do not eat eggs. They are not allowed to eat anything that would heat up or excite the blood like Garlic, onions, hot peppers, just about anything fun. So if you say you are Buddhist, you may end up with some very, very bland dishes. In fact many of my vegetarian friends have actually just bitten the bullet when they came to China and had some meat. They tried not to eat too much meat but if it comes every once in a while, if they eat it mistakenly, they didn’t mean to and they will be good when they get back. One possible solution to this conundrum is to ask the waitress or the waiter, could you make this without meat, 可以不放肉吗(Kěyǐ bùfàng ròu ma?) The tones for this are 可(kě) third tone, 以(yǐ) third tone again. So 可以(ké yǐ) second tone and then third tone, rising tone, then the falling rising tone, 可以(ké yǐ). 不(bù) fourth tone but it comes before 放(fàng) which is also fourth tone, so it becomes second tone, the rising tone, 不放(bú fàng) second tone, then fourth tone, 不放(bú fàng). 肉(ròu) fourth tone, the falling tone, 肉(ròu) and 吗(ma) which has no tone. 可以不放肉吗(Kéyǐ búfàng ròu ma?) Literally broken down this is 可以(ké yǐ) means can or to be able to or may as in may I as in asking for permission, second tone, then third tone, 不(bù) no, 放(fàng) to put or to place, 放(fàng), 肉(ròu) meat and then 吗(ma) which makes a statement into a question like a question mark, ma, no tone, 可以不放肉吗(Kéyǐ búfàng ròu ma?) Can no put meat, question, can you make it without meat, may I have it without meat, 可以不放肉吗(Kéyǐ búfàng ròu ma?) But again they may just look at you strangely and say what.