Many people do not eat meat for various reasons, a common one being the belief that the killing of sentient beings is wrong. Those at the moderate end of this scale avoid only certain animals, such as mammals and birds, and continue to eat lower life forms, like fish, crustaceans, molluscs and certain worms and insects. Vegetarians do not eschew animal derivatives such as dairy products and eggs, which vegans do. Stricter still are the adherents of Jainism, who do not even eat root vegetables because they believe consuming these means taking the life of the whole plant, and also because tiny life forms may be killed when the bulb or tuber is uprooted. There are also those who maintain a meat-free diet for health reasons. The consumption of meat is blamed for a variety of human ailments, but that said, not all vegetarian foods are healthy. Traditional Chinese and Indian vegetarian food tends to be heavy in oil and sodium. As for the recently developed fake meats, some contain a cocktail of additives and chemicals. Contrary to popular belief, vegetarianism in China did not originate in Buddhism. Ancient texts written in the latter half of the Zhou dynasty (1046-256BC) spoke of going vegetarian on certain days. Book of Rites recommended that “unrefined grains, vegetables and soups” be consumed on the inauspicious Jiazi and Yimao days, while Rites of Zhou proscribed the slaughtering of livestock and eating of meat immediately after the deaths of important persons in the state or within the family. Such “temporary vegetarianism”, usually for religious reasons, is still widely practised among Chinese populations all over the world. The spread of Buddhism from the Indian subcontinent in the first century ADenriched the country’s vegetarian cuisine. Initially, vegetarian kitchens in Buddhist temples and monasteries fed the resident monastics but later the service was extended to visitors as well. Buddhist temple kitchens became increasingly inventive in the Tang dynasty (618-907) and by the Song period (960-1279), the cuisine had become so popular that vegetarian restaurants began to appear. Using plant-based ingredients such as beans, gluten, root vegetables and mushrooms, Chinese chefs created all manner of mock meats and animal products, from pork and fowl, to eggs and crab roe. It is intriguing that people who refuse to eat meat on moral or religious grounds would sink their teeth into a piece of all-gluten roast goose or a mushroom-derived hamburger patty. Some Buddhists do frown upon such “meat-eating fantasies”, but I am less pedantic. For whatever reasons people choose to avoid meat – religious, compassionate, health, or environmental – and whether one chooses to go vegetarian or vegan on a part-time or full-time basis, the sum total of these individual efforts is fewer slaughtered animals and less carbon emissions.