Buddhist women are often assumed to be either renunciates observing the precepts or lay householders providing material support for the monastic community. However, unknown to many scholars of Buddhist studies, there are women in Chinese Mahayana Buddhist tradition, known as “vegetarian nuns” (zhaigu 齋姑) who are neither fully ordained nuns nor lay householders. Vegetarian nuns follow self-defined regulations that resemble monastic codes of conduct, but maintain certain “secular” activities such as operating vegetarian restaurants. While some of them have received monastic education from seminaries and abide by monastic disciplinary codes, others have attended “modern” schools and received secular education. Vegetarian nuns have attempted to negotiate their status of being both “traditional” and “modern,” monastic and lay, as well as religious and secular. This paper uses a case study of two groups of vegetarian nuns in contemporary Singapore. It compares the experiences and activities of vegetarian nuns from the Waterloo Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple (四馬路觀音堂佛祖廟) which practices popular Buddhism (民間佛教) with Singaporean vegetarian nuns from the international City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (萬佛聖城) which promotes the so-called orthodox Buddhism (正信佛教). I argue that semi-monastic women operate outside of patriarchal control, negotiating their identities between Buddhism and vegetarian cults within their self-formed groups. This allows them to retain their agencies in the intricate web of traditional and modern power structures within the Buddhist community in Southeast Asia.