Below is information about the availability of vegan food/drinks at some the more common cafés, fast food restaurants and chain restaurants in Japan. This information is based on a review of the allergen information provided on the café or restaurant’s website. In Japan, restaurants are required to give information about the presence of the following allergens in their food products:
• eggs, milk, wheat, buckwheat, peanut, shrimp and crab.
It is recommended that they also give information about the following allergens:
• soy, beef, chicken, pork, abalone, squid, salmon roe, salmon, mackerel, orange, kiwifruit, peach, apple, pineapple, yam/sweet potato, walnuts, gelatine and banana.
This information can be useful for vegans. Of course it is not definitive, as other animal products may still be in the food (e.g. fish dashi). But it is a good starting point, allowing you to narrow your search and ask a few good questions.
You may be lucky enough to see allergen information on a restaurant menu, like the one below, but usually it can only be found on restaurant websites.
Note restaurants often change their menus, so it is a good idea to check their websites before you visit. Of course it is always a good idea to check with staff that the dish you want to order is vegan (if possible).
The only food that appears to be vegan at Burger King in Japan are the french fries, hash browns and BBQ sauce.
Chabuton is a chain of ramen restaurants. They have a ‘vege-ramen’ which contains no animal ingredients (see the Vegout Tokyo blog). There is vegan gyoza too.
You can find your closest restaurant by checking the Chabuton website.
The drinks that appear to be vegan are: Royal soy milk tea (hot or iced), soy latte (hot or iced), tea (hot or iced), Doutor blend coffee, American coffee, espresso coffee, orange juice, and iced coffee. None of the food at Doutor seems to be vegan.
Freshness Burger used to have salads that were vegan, but they are no longer on the menu. Their tofu burger and bean burger seem to come and go from their menu, but neither of them are vegan anyway. So what is vegan? Not much.
• The onion rings contain dairy and are also cooked in oil used to cook products containing egg.
• The vegetable soup contains dairy.
• The popover contains dairy and egg.
All that appears to be left is the fried potato (which is cooked in the same oil as products containing dairy products and egg). You can get the fried potato as a set with a beer, so perhaps it’s not all bad news.
You can visit the Freshness Burger website to see the allergen information (mostly in Japanese).
If you are in Tokyo you are lucky because you can visit this all vegan chain restaurant. These restaurants are in many locations around the world, but there seems to be just one in Japan.
The Loving Hut Japan website is in Japanese and there is some English too.
There are no vegan burgers or desserts and the fried potato is cooked in beef fat and also contains pork according to the McDonald’s allergen chart. It is also produced in a factory that produces shrimp and crab products.
You can see the ingredients of the menu items on the McDonald’s website (Japanese).
The fried potato, onion rings and MOS’s chips are potentially vegan, but they are cooked together with animal products.
None of the burgers, soups or desserts at MOS Burger are vegan.
The toast contains egg and dairy.
You can see the ingredients in the menu items on the MOS Burger website (mostly in Japanese).
According to the Pizza La allergen chart the following items don’t contain meat, fish, dairy, egg etc (see allergen chart for all ingredients checked):
• Four season salad (with either Italian tomato dressing or onion dressing)
• Pizza La french fries and roasted potatoes (with fancy tomato sauce and/or mustard sauce)
• Apple sherbet and Sicilian orange sherbet
In addition you could consider ordering a pizza with just vegetables and no cheese. You would just need to check whether the pizza base and sauce contain any animal products (they don’t seem to be separately listed on the allergen chart).
For a short time in spring each year (about March/April) Ramen Kagetsu offered vegan ramen. Below is some information about the 2013 vege-ramen, vege-gyoza and vege-itameshi. Unfortunately this was discontinued in 2014.
From reviewing their allergen chart it appears the following menu items may be vegan:
• Spaghetti with garlic, oil and peppers (spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino)
• Pickled chinese cabbage
• Grilled potato
• Pine gelato
There may also be other menu items that could be modified to be vegan (e.g. salad without added animal products). For more information see the Saizeriya website.
Salvatore Cuomo Pizza
The marinara pizza appears to be vegan (see English delivery menu with allergen information on their website).
Soup Stock Tokyo
You can see full lists of their soup ingredients on their website (in Japanese but an electronic translator can help here). Their soups change regularly, but there is usually at least one vegan option. The soup can be eaten with plain rice (the bread contains milk and egg).
The Starbucks menu in Japan includes a Soy Latte, but you can also order other drinks with soy milk for an extra ¥50 (but check for other animal products such as honey and cream). Note you can get a ¥20 discount when you use your own mug, tumbler or cup! None of the food at Starbucks appears to be vegan.
In Japan, Subway is not as vegan friendly as in other countries because the sandwich bread and flat bread contains dairy products. Some of the menu items that appear from the allergen chart to be vegan are:
• Salads: avocado veggie and veggie delight salads
• Dressings: oil and vinegar, wasabi soy sauce dressing, pesto sauce, balsamic sauce, mustard
• Oven potatoes: regular only – the cheese, basil and BBQ flavourings contain milk
• Drinks (in addition to the usual vegan options like black coffee): soy latte (iced or hot), iced soy cocoa, iced soy mango latte, green vegetable smoothie, whole tomato smoothie, soy berry smoothie (may contain traces of egg and milk), mango orange smoothie
The food at Sukiya that appears to be vegan (there may be some cross-contamination) is:
• Natto (be careful with the sauce, if any)
• Green onions
• Salad (no dressing)
• Grated yam with wasabi
• Pickled ginger
• Mikan jelly and white peach jelly (does not contain gelatine)
Please note the nori sheets contain shrimp. The allergen chart says that the pickles and kimchi don’t contain shrimp, but they may still contain fish.
T’s Tan Tan
This is an all vegan ramen shop located inside the Tokyo train station (behind the ticket gates). It is a wonderful place where you can drop in and have a quick bowl of ramen. Visit the Vegout Tokyo blog for more information.
The tempura batter at Tenya does not contain egg or milk, but may contain traces of these ingredients (as well as other animal products) because of cross-contamination.
The dishes at Tenya that appear from a review of their allergen chart to be vegan are:
• Vegetable tendon (without the sauce as it contains fish)
• Assorted vegetable tempura
• Individual pieces of vegetable tempura – pumpkin, maitake mushroom, eggplant, green beans, lotus root, potato (sometimes also bamboo shoot, butterbur sprout)
• Cold tofu (ask for no fish flakes)
• Boiled spinach (ask for no fish flakes)
• Flower pickles
A little strangely, the allergen chart says:
• The cold soba set contains mackerel and milk and the hot soba set contains mackerel.
• The cold udon set contains chicken and mackerel and the hot udon set contains mackerel.
The mackerel may just be in the dipping sauce, but if you are going to order the soba or udon it may be a good idea to check the ingredients with the staff.
The salad also contains mackerel and the miso soup probably contains fish dashi (although the allergen chart does not say this).
You can order a Soy Latte, or another drink from the menu with soy milk for an extra ¥50 (but check for other animal products such as honey and cream). None of the food at Tully’s appears to be vegan (the T’s Acai Berry Sorbet contains gelatine). We have written to Tully’s requesting a vegan food option.