For all it may have in the way of history and culture, Beijing doesn’t appear, at first glance, to be a particularly green city. The enormous urban area is often blanketed in smog and exhaust, and food is often served up swimming in a pool of oil laced with MSG – the capital doesn’t seem to be an ideal place to reconnect with nature, be it in the outdoors or on a plate. However, the green revolution is slowly but surely coming to Beijing, and living LOHAS – a Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability – is becoming much easier.
Supermarkets stocking organic food have popped up across the city, and some even have their own farms. Those wishing to get seriously LOHAS and pick their own food have several orchards and farms to choose from. Thanks to China’s Buddhist roots, there are plenty of vegetarian restaurants serving up inventive, healthy imitation meat dishes packed with protein and free of MSG.
Nature isn’t as far as you may think either. Within an hour or two of the city there are hikes along sections of the Great Wall undiscovered by tourists, and through the mountains surrounding Beijing. LOHAS in Beijing has a unique twist – many of the outdoor activities take place in historic settings. Where else can you birdwatch in an old imperial palace, float up the same river Empress Dowager Cixi used to take, or enjoy lotus blooms not far from where ritual sacrifices were performed for Ming emperors.
If you want to live a healthy, organic, active lifestyle, Beijing is actually an excellent place to do so. The wide selection of natural foods available is growing by day, and the unique mix of ancient culture and natural environments make it a possible to reconnect with nature and explore Chinese history at the same time. Beijing is a vast city, with many gems tucked away in the city center and on the outskirts. Living LOHAS in Beijing only requires a little knowledge and dedication.
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