Our aim is simple: to help English speaking vegans in Japan stay vegan.
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, the Japan Vegan Restaurant Pocketguide and Vege-Navi. 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.
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 ‘flavouring’ that we cannot identify. 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.
As time goes on this site will continue to grow, so please check in with us every so often!
We hope we can help you stay vegan while in Japan.