The Vegan Guide to Japan
However, while this is certainly the case in much of western Europe, being vegan can still be tricky abroad – especially in Asia. Given that many Asian countries live on diets that consist largely of fish and meat, and due to the fact that many people do not speak English, it can be very difficult to not only find vegan options, but also to accurately ascertain what ingredients are in certain dishes.
Being vegan abroad is tough, but not impossible. With our handy guide, you’ll be able to survive in Japan without having to eat meat or dairy, while also enjoying all of the sights, sounds and smells of The Land of the Rising Sun. There’s no better time to plan your trip, and no better time to be vegan.
With our handy guide, you’ll be ready to head off in no time !
Between 2014 and 2017, the number of vegans in America grew by a staggering 600%. A lifestyle choice that used to be mocked and derided is now incredibly mainstream, and food establishments are now embracing the change and altering their menus to keep up.
The growth of the vegan movement in western countries is down to three key things: people wanting to eat more healthily, people’s concern for the environment, and a growing desire to improve animal welfare But, given that various cultures and societies have conflicting views when it comes to morals and what is best for the planet, things can change when you cross borders.
Japan may not be one of the most vegan-friendly countries in the world, but we’re here to help you out.
Japanese cuisine is full of vegetables and other foods that are suitable for vegans. Rice, seaweed, daikon, lotus root, kabocha, bamboo shoots and onions are key parts of numerous Japanese meals. However, they are usually accompanied by fish and meat, and are frequently fried in butter, often contain egg, and can contain stock made with anchovies. Clearly this is not ideal.
There are comparatively few vegans in Japan – even vegetarianism is uncommon – and even those people that do declare themselves to be vegetarian generally eat meat and fish on occasion.
However, if you are aware of the fact that vegan food is difficult to find ahead of time, you can make plans in advance that will ensure you can retain your diet.
There are some meals you should keep an eye out for on menus that are (nearly always) vegan. Washoku, for example, contains pretty much nothing more than legumes, vegetables and seaweed. Shojin ryori, the traditional food of Buddhists, is always vegetarian, and very often vegan. If you can find this on menus, then it should absolutely be your go-to. It tends to contain lots of rice, tofu, soy and something called kuzu, which is a mountain starch, and is far more delicious than it sounds.
But, if you want to go to a restaurant that is vegan only, is there anywhere for you? Of course, there is (although you pretty much have to be in Tokyo). If Tokyo is part of your holiday itinerary, why not try
- Ain Soph. Ginza (Tokyo)
- Ain Soph. Journey Shinjuku (Tokyo)
- 8ablish Café (Tokyo)
- Alaska Zwei (Tokyo)
- Asics Connection (Tokyo)
- Ballon (Tokyo)
- Brown Rice (Tokyo)
- Cafe Aloha no Kokoro (Tokyo)
- Cafe Bask (Tokyo)
- Etsunou (Tokyo)
These restaurants are nearly entirely vegan. Some of them have a mixture of vegetarian and vegan food, but the vast majority of what you can obtain is completely vegan, incredibly healthy, and entirely delicious.