Among the world Buddhisms, only the Chinese Buddhism promotes complete vegetarianism. The association between the Chinese Buddhism and complete vegetarianism was developed over time, and influenced by Buddhist teaching and also some of the ancient emperors. Emperor Liangwu of Liang Dynasty (502-557) was a Buddhist, and he wrote an essay “Abstain from meat and wine” and promoted
vegetarianism. Later, Emperor Wenxuan became a disciple of Buddhism, and asked all monks in the country to abstain from all types of meat. The main reason was of course to spare the lives of the live stocks and the creatures, because Buddhism views all lives on earth to be equal. The secondary reason was that vegetarianism has its health benefit, as proven by the modern science. It is widely agreed today that vegetarianism can lead to lower cholesterol level, healthier kidney and lower chances for heart diseases.
Mount Putuo is a sacred land of Buddhism, and all monks are vegetarians and all temples on Mount Putuo are experts of vegetarian cooking. Many of the restaurants on the island also offer vegetarian specialties. The well known vegetarian dishes include: five cold appetizer combo, green pumpkin stew, lily bulb vege chicken, pan fried vege eel, Buddhist's fillet of fish, whole vege fish in soy sauce, fancy tofu and white soup with stone fungus. The whole fish, for example, is made entirely with tofu. Its resemblance to a real fish dish is amazing, and the resemblance is not limited to its appearance, but also extends to the taste. The special sauce that is made mostly from soy paste covers the whole fish and make it look shiny and tempting. After tasting it, probably no one would believe that the fish is made from tofu.
For mere 5 yuan, one could also join the guest dinning table in some of the temples. These tables are mostly prepared for visiting worshipers, and the lunch usually starts from 10:30am. Food provided on these tables are simple “temple food”, but they are also authentic Buddhist vegetarian. Each table usually offers 8 dishes and one large bowl of soup, to be shared by at least 8 people.