Vegetarian or Fast Food?

The word for ‘vegetarian food’ in Chinese sounds exactly the same as the word for ‘fast food’, so if you are a vegetarian it’s probably best to double-check before leaving for the restaurant.

素食

Pinyin: sù shí
English: vegetarian food

速食

Pinyin: sù shí
English: fast food
Note: Also known as 快餐(kuài cān)

Actually, the word for fast food is very rarely used in general conversation, and people would usually just say the name of the restaurant, such as:

麥當勞(麦当劳)

Pinyin: Màidāngláo
English: McDonald’s

肯德基

Pinyin: Kěndéjī
English: KFC

So when you tell people you’re a vegetarian you can say the following:

我是吃素的(我是吃素的)
Wǒ shì chīsù de
I’m a vegetarian

You might also add some clarification by adding that you don’t eat meat:

我不吃肉,我是吃素的(我不吃肉,我是吃素的)
Wǒ bù chī ròu, wǒ shì chīsù de
I don’t eat meat, I’m a vegetarian

If someone asks you what you want to eat, you can tell them vegetarian food by saying:

我要吃素(我要吃素)
Wǒ yào chīsù

The 素 in the sentence above being short for 素食餐(Sù shí cān)- a vegetarian meal.

  • Ken

    It seems you’ve got an incorrect character in your last sentence:

    “素 in the sentence above being short for 食餐”

    should be:

    “素 in the sentence above being short for 食餐”

    • Thanks for letting me know, I’ve adjusted the post.