Healthiness of Vegetarian Chinese Buffet Dishes

Assuming one were to limit oneself to the vegetarian dishes at any random Chinese buffet, how healthy would they be eating? Does the (usually heavy) oil used in such dishes make the fat and calories lost due to the absence of meat moot or is it still a healthy choice?

It depends. They could be using lard, for all you know. The idea is to have a balanced diet. I know a lot of people who’ve tried going vegetarian to lose weight (this was before the Atkins insanity) who ended up fatter because they set themselves loose on the chocolate bars and yoghurt and all that.

The vegetarian dishes I’ve had in Hong Kong (especially the imitation meats) often make heavy use of gluten, oil and sugar, which as a combination isn’t much better, if at all, than the real thing. Oh, and most of it tastes nasty too, but I’m sure you already know that.

Oils and fats are not necessarily bad for you. Fats give you a full, satisfied feeling. Most of the calories in the very effective Atkins diet come from proteins and fats.

As for those with high or borderline cholesterol levels, if the dishes you eat are truly vegetarian, with no lard, and you avoid saturated fat (coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, and cocoa butter) and trans-fatty acids (margarine and shortening), then fats and oils themselves are not the problem.

I’m not going vegetarian and this isn’t going to be the cornerstone of my diet: all I’m wanting to know is if eating string beans or broccoli and mushrooms instead of sesame chicken or hunan beef when I’m in the mood to eat at the local chinese buffet is going to significantly lower the fat, cholesterol, and calorie content of my meals.

Calorie and cholesterol, probably. Most veggies are very, very low-calorie - a few nutritionists have even suggested classifying them as negative-calorie.

Fat - hard to say. If the dishes are oily like Richard Simmons, I’d say no. ’

The problem is veggies aren’t very filling, and without extraordinary attention paid to your diet, you’ll probably make up for it by snacking anyway.

Try tracking the food you eat through Accounts are free, and they have a huge, huge repository of nutritional information for just about any food you can think of (calories, macro/micronutrient breakdown, everything).

Hmm. That’s a good question. But the answer would have to be “maybe, depends”.
Many of those dishes would help your dietary goals. But a good solid minority of them would NOT. Several of the meat dishes would also lead to those dietary goals, however. Lean beef or whitemeat chicken shouldn’t be so bad. The problem isn’t the vegetables in those dishes, it’s all the other stuff- oils, nuts, noodles, white rice (pretty much “empty calories”), etc. Fat & Calories could well be the same, depending on the dishes.

You’d also have a problem getting enough balanced protein.

However, with cholesterol, things get strange. In general cholesterol comes from animal products. But certain tropical oils and “hydrogenated oils” can be worse than eating bacon. AND, you may well have a genotype where how much cholesterol you consume doesn’t significantly effect your cholesterol score. See your Doctor.

Oh- I AM NOT A *real *DOCTOR. :stuck_out_tongue: