More and more people in Europe are eating vegetarian or even vegan. The reasons for this are diverse. You will find out right away whether there are enough vegan alternatives to animal products in Japan. But first of all: what does vegan actually mean?
Vegan foods mainly contain plant-based ingredients. Foods that are not of animal origin are considered vegan. Meat, fish, seafood, bones (including gelatine), animal fats, eggs, milk and even honey, for example, are not vegan. Especially in German (large) cities, you have been able to eat without animal food for a number of years, if you want to. Is Japan in a similarly good position?
You should pay attention to:
In Japan there is one animal ingredient in particular: fish. Fish and seafood are very often found in sauces, soups and side dishes. That is why it is usually necessary to double-check supposedly vegan dishes before ordering them in the restaurant. It is worth asking, because many vegetable dishes are refined with dashi.
Which dishes are also available as vegan options?
Tofu is naturally vegan. So often suitable tofu dishes can be found. Many salads and onigiri variants are suitable for vegan snacks. In addition, you can discover fried vegetables on many street corners - the so-called tempura. Warning: it can also contain seafood!
What else is there?
Some Bentos are vegetarian and even vegan. Otherwise, fortunately, soy sauce does not naturally contain any animal ingredients. Vegetarian sushi goes well with it. In Japan you can also find vegan noodle and ramen dishes, especially in the big cities. By the way, Konbudashi is a fish-free broth made from algae that is available in some restaurants.
Tip for vegan travelers: If you should ever travel to Japan, it is best to have a translation ready in English and Japanese in which you explain that you will not eat any animal products, including fish products. Or do you speak Japanese so well that you can just chat with the locals? In any case, a little help in the restaurant can't hurt if you want to choose a suitable dish.
Since traditional Buddhist cuisine works without animal foods, you will usually find vegan dishes in temples.
Eating vegan in Japan is possible, but sometimes requires a lot of effort. In order to find the right dishes, you sometimes have to search for a long time. It is easier to cook yourself at home, for example egg-free soba noodles together with the vegan MYCONBINI broth for delicious ramen soups.
MYCONBINI tip: Check out the Vegan section among our products range.