It’s definitely possible to be a vegetarian in China. Especially, when studying @Chinese university. Why? Because university cafeteria here often offer plenty of meat-free options. This is to cut cost & make the meals cheap (at least in the north).
I’ve seen all kinds of Chinese tofu & veggie dishes in my time in two Chinese universities. Why don’t we see more Chinese vegetarian restaurants out there?
黑木耳豆腐酸汤 ＋西红柿炒花菜 Stir-fried tofu & wood ear mushroom in sour sauce + cauliflower & tomato stir-fry.
小葱拌豆腐 ＋ 蒜泥黄瓜 Tofu mixed w/ scallions + cucumber w/ minced garlic (popular cold dishes 凉菜)
On the left: 南瓜馒头 Pumpkin steamed bun
The ingredients were not properly sliced, the food was cooked quickly & served hastily, but they still tasted very good! Wasn’t too salty nor bland – cooked to suit everyone’s tastebuds.
The dish that tasted the best: tofu mixed w/ scallions.
The dish that tasted the worse: Pumpkin steamed bun. The texture & taste resembled American corn bread but much more packed, bland & less oily. The worse is it didn’t taste like pumpkin at all. More like cornmeal.
IMO these dishes were all very healthy. All of them were cooked in appropriate amounts of oil. Just the amount needed for our bodies to absorb fat soluble nutrients like vitamin A & K(from cucumber, cauliflower & tofu).
1 cup (126 g) of firm tofu contain 176 calories, 20 g protein & 4 g carb. It include significant amounts of: 50% calcium (daily recommendation), 22% iron & moderate to high amounts of phosphorus, potassium, manganese & selenium. In other words, tofu is a very protein & mineral-rich plant food.
1 cup (100 g) of cucumber contain 15 calories. Most of this is water, 21% vitamin K & small amounts of vitamin C.
1 cup (124 g) cauliflower contain 28 calories. It contain 6 g carb, 2 g protein & 12% fibre. It contain mainly vitamin C ~100% & vitamin K 22%.
Who knows the exact nutritional value of the pumpkin steamed bun , however, I am guessing: ~200-300 calories, moderate amounts of protein, traces of minerals & vitamins & plenty of vitamin A & C from the pumpkin.
As for the wood ear mushroom, tomato & scallions that appeared in small amounts, these all contain lots of fibre, protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A. In addition, the micronutrients in tomatoes are better absorbed when cooked.
In total, this meal probably contained ~600-650 calories (~30% daily calories) which is just right for a very nutritious lunch. For optimum nutrient, swap some of the tofu out for a bit of animal protein like small pieces of pork or an egg (in the case of vegetarians).