5 Tips for being Vegan in Japan

Never assume

You might think you can Google the kanji for “vegan” and use it to read labels on food items in supermarkets or to show waiters, but sadly, the word has spread incorrectly. Vegan is frequently used to mean “healthy” rather than “herbivorous.” The term “vegetarian” is also lacking and is typically understood to signify that one does not consume meat. However, fish is OK. Also, don’t assume “plant-based” may be an alternative because items bearing this label frequently include dairy or eggs.

Eating out can be difficult, but if you take the time to write down precisely what you can’t eat and have it translated, you can carry it with you and utilize it in various restaurants. This will make eating out a lot easier.

Supermarkets and konbinis, on the other hand, might be difficult for vegans to navigate. A veggie rice ball could make you feel safe, but they frequently have traces of meat or fish. Even some packs of nuts that seem to be safe have some risks. Currently, the only alternative is to arrive prepared in these locations.

Put social media to the best possible use.

Joining some well-liked discussion forums and groups on Facebook or Instagram will help you remain current on what items are safe for vegans. If it is vegan, The most well-liked and frequently updated website and Facebook group for keeping people up to date on supermarket etiquette is called “Japan.”

Using the appropriate hashtags, one can also learn about the numerous tiny independent enterprises operated by foreign residents in Japan. Not only will you be able to purchase genuine vegan goods, but you might be able to meet other vegan residents and learn how they’ve managed to make a livelihood in this area.

For those in the Kansai area, “_trick or treats_” bakes delectable vegan goodies and is very accommodating to all clients.

With a few fast hashtag searches on Instagram, you can easily find the many pop-up vegan events and stalls that are frequently located across the nation.

Shop wisely

Online

There is always online purchasing, but knowing which websites to use can be challenging when moving to a new nation is challenging. The local ones will essentially have all the same issues as using a local store, while the ones you’re used to could have a financially alarming increase in delivery.

There is a well-known online retailer for foreigners in Japan since they frequently carry a wide variety of foods that are hard to find in the country and have a large selection of vegan snacks, baking supplies, protein powders, and other goods. Additionally, they offer free shipping on purchases above 5000 yen and typically deliver within a week.

Costco

There are some Western-style supermarkets all around Japan. Still, typically even a little bag of vegan-friendly jellies can increase in price, turning what was formerly a few dollars into a more significant outlay that might not be worthwhile.

Luckily, Costco is always an option. Although there won’t be as many selections as you’d find at home, they carry reputable brands to provide you with peace of mind when making purchases. They also release new vegan items for customers to test out nearly every month.

Konbini

This is more of new development in Japanese convenience stores. It was a modification to prepare for the increase in tourism brought on by the 2020 Olympics. We all know it didn’t happen, but the bento options at 7/11s have changed. There are now some vegan alternatives accessible in regular bento lunch places, and they have vegan stickers all over them. Naturally, make sure to confirm what is truly safe with those vegan societies online, but I’ve heard there are some fantastic options now readily available.

Smart dining

Because it is simply not a part of their culture, Japanese cuisine is unlikely to be aware of a Vegan’s nutritional requirements. But other Japanese cuisines will comprehend. Keep in mind that restaurants serving Indian, Arabic, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, and American cuisine are frequently run by foreign residents who are locals and who not only understand your demands but are also likely to have solutions ready.

Naturally, finding vegan-friendly eateries in larger cities won’t be more challenging than conducting a quick google search.

Enjoy vegan Japanese cuisine.

Let’s face it, most of us are motivated to travel to experience new foods. Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to miss out on amazing culinary adventures. Fortunately, there are a few mouthwatering Japanese dishes that have been made entirely without using any animal products.

Here are a few samples of what you may anticipate experimenting with:

Frequently paired with a chewy Tofu skin are Udon noodles.
fried seaweed
Nato Miso Soup (a fermented slimy soybean product that holds the same debate as marmite in Australia)
types of sweet potato Mochi that resemble deserts! (This would be my preferred dessert, a rice dough often made with red bean paste.)
Once more, keep an eye on those forums for more fantastic suggestions!

Conclusion

Japan is undoubtedly not the world’s vegan-friendliest nation. Finding plant-based foods and items will be difficult. Still, maybe these five suggestions will be helpful to any vegans out there who dream of visiting temples, dressing in kimonos, and climbing Mt. Fuji but worry about going without food. You won’t go without food because there are always workarounds, and you’ll even get to try some new Japanese cuisine.

It’s also important to note that in the five years I’ve been in Japan, the cities have changed from having no vegan restaurants to having options, the shops have changed from only carrying meat, and I’ve even met a few Japanese vegans. The vegan community has come a long way and will only become better.