Our aim is simple: to provide you with resources so that you can live your vegan life in Japan to the fullest.
Being vegan in Japan, while far from impossible, presents new challenges to even the most experienced vegan. For example, food that is usually vegan, like bread, suddenly contains animal products. Food labels also become practically unreadable unless you have a good understanding of Japanese, including knowledge of many complex kanji. Navigating the local supermarket or convenience store can become a matter of guesswork, which is clearly less than ideal for a vegan.
We would like to help by sharing the information we have gathered so that others don’t have to ‘reinvent the wheel’. There is a lot of great vegan food here, but it is often difficult for foreigners to identify, simply because they don’t have a good enough understanding of Japanese. We want to help break through the language barrier.
Please note this site is not intended to be a vegan restaurant guide – that niche is happily filled by many good resources, such as HappyCow (English), Vegewel (bilingual), which also has both an English and a Japanese Facebook page, and Hachidory (for those that read Japanese), as well as the book the Tokyo Vegan Guide (English), and even the “vegan” tag on the Metropolis magazine website (English).
As this is a Japan-based site the bulk of the external links on the site for shopping purposes and so on will likely be in Japanese- as such we’ll mark links that are in another language, for example (English). Autotranslate is improving and may be sufficient for online shopping purposes, however it still tends to make many errors.
Where information appears to be lacking is in relation to packaged and convenience foods, as well as cooking ingredients (for those of us living in Japan and cooking for ourselves). While there is quite a lot of general information around about the presence of animal products in almost everything in Japan, there is little practical information about the specific products that are and aren’t vegan. We want to try to help fill that gap.
Information shared on this group and in our accompanying Facebook group, Is it Vegan? (Japan), is based off sources including ingredient lists, allergen info on packaging, and allergen charts. As these sources do not show all auxiliary ingredients, please note that items have NOT been confirmed with customer service to be completely animal-ingredient-free unless stated otherwise. We will note any information obtained from companies.
Since bone-char processed sugar is very common in Japan, please understand that any item containing sugar that people discuss here as being okay for vegans may use bone-char processed sugar, unless it has obtained a vegan certification stating it has not or someone has obtained that information from the manufacturer. In addition, there may be other animal-processing aids used in manufactured food, including those that we don’t know to ask about. Please use your own discretion when deciding what to purchase and consume.
The bone char can be used as a filter to whiten the sugar (although alternative methods also exist to whiten sugar). The animal bone char does not remain as an ingredient in the final product, so it’s not possible to tell if bone char was used by reading the label on the product. Where we have any information on if bone char was used or not, we will include it in our description of the product. There is no current consensus in vegan groups in Japan on if sugar made with bone char is non-vegan or not. You will therefore find white sugar in the items recommended in vegan Facebook Japan-related groups, at items sold at some vegan festivals (but not all) and in items marked as vegan at some restaurants (but not all, especially not at macrobiotic restaurants or 100% vegan restaurants).
We have started with some of the most common foods in Japan. You will see there are photos of the products to make them easier to recognise, as well as translations of the ingredient panels. We have included products that you may expect to be vegan, but which aren’t. Unfortunately there are some mystery ingredients like “flavoring” that we cannot identify.
In addition, emulsifiers can be made of different things, including plants, dairy, or occasionally meat ingredients like pork. It’s not typical for Japanese labels to identify what source their emulsifier comes from, unless it’s made of soy. In that case it will often read 乳化剤、大豆由来/nyuukazai, daizu yuurai, or emulsifier-soy origin.
As in other countries, it is sometimes necessary to contact the manufacturer to determine whether a product is vegan. This is something we’re working on also.
We have included information on animal testing wherever available, however this information is not comprehensive.
As time goes on this site will continue to grow, so please check in with us every so often as well as join us at our Facebook group for more up-to-the moment information, as well as to ask if specific products are vegan.
We’re all volunteers and we update this site in our free time. If the information we provide helps you, you can say thank you by ‘buying us a coffee’ (making a small donation via PayPal). Any amount is appreciated!
This blog contains some affiliate links, and if you follow one of those links and then purchase a product you help support this blog without any additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your kind support!
Illustrations by Soanja Connac
We hope you enjoy living vegan in Japan!
Hello 🙂 Just moved to Japan for a year, and REALLY Happy to find your website! The ingredient list is going to be so helpful, thank you so much for all your time and effort. Now to go and learn all that list… ganbatte ne… 🙂 Will most definitely try and contribute as my Japanese gets betters along with my knowledge of what vegan can eat or not here.
Hey, is there a vegan society or something like this in Japan?
Thank you!! I have just added some information about vegan festivals and groups in Japan. There is the Japan Vegetarian Society, which is vegan and vegetarian, and it looks like there was a Japan Vegan Society at some point, however the website is currently under reconstruction. It might be better to try to join a local vegan meet-up group if there is one near you. Good luck!!
Just to let you know I am (slowly!) working on a flash card desk from your list on the free website and app MEMRISE – it can be found below and can be used by anybody wishing to learn the vocab 🙂
Wow that’s great – thank you!!
Thank you so much for sharing all the vegan-friendly information here.
I am Jan, a vegetarian from Thailand and currently a research student Waseda University. Though I am not a complete vegan (I can’t quite give up milk, so I label myself vegetarian), I find this blog super helpful!
I am doing a little survey for my Japanese course here, about the difficulty and more flexible options of eating out as a vegetarian in Japan. Could you please spare 5-10 minutes and help me fill out my short questionnaire here? I know most things can already be found on this blog, but I would be very grateful if you could help me fill in the form personally.
Thank you so much again. I hope I don’t sound like a spam here. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me.
Thanks for your message 🙂 I have completed your survey. Do you want some other people to complete it also? If so, you could post it in our Facebook group.
I,i’m vegetarian so I have a”vegetarian question”xD..Is it possible to find free range and organic eggs in japan?
I’m sorry Sara, as we’re vegan we don’t support any type of animal use, including the consumption of eggs. Also, you may want to check out http://humanemyth.org/cagefree.htm
Hi! Do you know if mitoku natto spores for making natto are grown on a dairy based culture, or on a plant based culture?
I tried emailing the Yuzo Takahashi laboratory myself, but never got a clear answer. I’m vegan and I make my own natto, this is one product I’m not sure about…
Hello! I’ve been living here for 5 years and this year im slowly transitioning my self into vegan lifestyle. I’m glad ive found this site as I’m still having hard time reading Japanese. I hope I can learn alot from this site and maybe contribute some stuff aswell. Eager to meet people that can inspire and coach me along the way of my transition. Hoping for this site to prosper!
I work on a cruise ship and I visit many Japanese ports (Nagasaki, fukuoka, kumamotos etc) I want to get a few groceries for my cabin (margerines, spreads, snacks, crackers, crisps, sweet treats) if people could tell me very easily accessible brands out there for the basics would love to here them, pictures might help? And whish supermarket you went to!
Any help is appreciated! Loving this journey!
Follow me @samueljamesdoherty
Hello! We recommend our Facebook group, Is it vegan? (Japan), and the unrelated Facebook group Vegan Supermarket Finds in Japan for updated information about where people are finding specific products. Also please check the Dairy Alternatives section of this website for pictures of some margarines and spreads. https://isitveganjapan.com/food-products/soy-milk/ We also have a section for potato, corn, and vegetable chips here: https://isitveganjapan.com/food-products/potato-and-corn-chips/ Will be adding information about crackers soon. The Convenience Stores section of this website also has a lot of pictures of snack foods.
Thank you so much for continuing this website. It is so incredibly helpful. ❤
We’re so glad you’re finding it helpful. We’ll keep working hard to update more and more items!
Hi. I’ve just heard about your blog today. I haven’t looked every topics yet, but it’s really helpful, so thank you so much! I live in Japan for 20 about years, vegan for about 5 years. I can tell how it’s hard to find REAL vegan products . It’ s very frustrating. Especially compared to France where I’m from, the vegan products and menus are everywhere. Here, some people don’t even know what “vegan” mean… I think the way is still long to have a large choice of vegan products in Japan and to make the people realize the cruel reality behind animal products. But I don’t give up! 😉 THANK YOU again!
We’re so glad you find it helpful. As for made-in-Japan products, We currently have Ohsawa Ramen, Samurai Ramen and T’s cup noodles in the Noodles and Pasta section and Sagamiya Mascarpone-style “cheese” and CHOICE “cheese” and “butter” in the Non-Dairy Butter, Cheese, Cream, Margarine & Yoghurts sections listed as products that are explicitly sold as vegan. There are also more import products sold as vegan such as Provamel soymilks- we’ve detailed these in the Natural Lawson section and the Soy, Almond, & Other Non-Dairy Milks section. Also, Bio C Bon is expanding in the Kanto area, so we now have some access to some of those French vegan products.
I’m here to say a big THANK YOU. Your articles with regards to ordering food have especially helped me out. It is great that you include some basic phrases to use.
We’re really glad you are finding the site useful!
I’m glad I found you guys (and your rich content)! Planning to visit Japan soon 😀
Glad we could help!
Vegan Japanese Cuisines
Hakkei is famous for its vegetarian friendly meals. Japanese cuisines are made with fresh vegetables. Guest from abroad request for Vegan Japanese cuisines. Hakkei will served you all vegan meals.
Hakkei likes you to be at the inn that you choose for the purpose of the above all meals.
There is no glitz to carefully pulling the dish to the soup, but there is a taste to know if it is possible to eat.
Vegetables were mainly food, of course, I would like you to enjoy a meal peacefully up to cook fresh rice and miso soup.
In response to the feelings of such (A Master Chef), we deliver to our customers.
Meal I would like you to eat tasty and delicious. It is the cooking of the eight scenic spots.
Yuhara hot spring Hakkei unique Sunayu front. Sunayu view. And suspension bridge front with light up at night.
None of it is no doubt that become unforgettable scenery.
Please choose your favorite dinner plan and room according to the application.
I (Waseem) here to guide you in English & Japanese, kindly do not hesitate to order your favorite Japanese Vegan / Vegetarian meals at Hakkei.
Email : email@example.com
Tel : 0867-62-2211
Website : https://hakkei-yubara.jp/
Thank you so much for your comment and making vegan meals for your customers. We have added some information to our Vegan-Friendly Accommodation section about your facility. https://isitveganjapan.com/food-on-the-go/vegan-friendly-accommodation/ If you have any photos of the food/hotel you would like us to include, please send them to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi! I love your website! Thank you for giving such useful information!!
I just wanted to point out some products in your website have a sentence like (一部に乳成分を含む). Unfortunately it does not mean cross-contamination in Japanese. It means the product actually contain something come from milk. So they are not vegan.
I put some of information sources which explain it.
1: Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health (東京都福祉保健所)
2: Consumer Affairs Agency (消費者庁)check 「アレルギー表示とは PDF 」https://www.caa.go.jp/policies/policy/food_labeling/food_sanitation/allergy/
If you google 「一部に を含む コンタミネーション」, you will find more information
When they mean contamination, they write 『本品製造工場では、○○（特定原材料等の名称）を含む製品を生産しています。』
『○○（特定原材料等の名称）を使用した設備で製造しています。』 等 etc.
Hello. Thank you very much for your detailed comment. If you check our “Chocolate” section, you can see that even Quinoa Krunch, marked “vegan” on the package, says “一部に乳成分を含む” People Tree “vegie” chocolates, which have no dairy as ingredients, also say原材料の一部に乳成分を含む）and also that ※「ベジチョコライン」の主要原材料には、乳製品を不使用。ただし、同じ設備で原材料の一部に乳成分を含むものを製造しており、製造工程上、完全に取り除くことが難しいため、食物アレルギーをお持ちの方に向けた注意喚起をしています。Therefore it seems clear that 一部に乳成分を含む , while sometimes used to mean a product actually contains dairy as an ingredient, is sometimes used when things containing milk are processed on the same line, even when the product itself does not contain dairy as an ingredient. https://www.peopletree.co.jp/shopping/special/078312.html
Do you know which brand of natto spores for making natto are grown on a plant-based culture?
Hi there, unfortunately we don’t. You’d need to check with the manufacturer. We only have a small amount of information about natto production here, learned from the YouTube video Is Natto Vegan? Not as vegan as I thought. https://isitveganjapan.com/food-products-s-z/soy-products/ Sorry we couldn’t be of help.
Introducing my best friend, KK from India
A representative of the vegan group in India 🇮🇳 wants to talk to a vegan group in Japan.
I would like to contact you once, so I contacted you.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Hello, for any inquiries they can contact us at our email address: isitveganjapan at gmail.com
Hello do you have an app or what’s the easiest way to access the information
Hello, no, we don’t have an app. We have this website as well as a Facebook group of the same name.