Is it difficult to be a vegan or vegetarian in Japan?
Unfortunately I have to say it is difficult to be a vegetarian in Japan and really tough to be a vegan. Following are some reasons.
- Vegetarianism still is not common in Japan and there are some people, especially in the elder generation, who regard it as a cult or disrespectful belief.
- The word “vegetarian” is well known but few people know what “vegan” means and it is complicated to get restaurant employees to really understand what you don’t eat, sometimes even in Japanese.
- Traditional Japanese foods typically use bonito or other fish or animals to make soup stock, which is used in most dishes.
- There are only a few restaurants with a lot of vegetarian options, especially in the rural areas.
- For those who don’t understand Japanese, it is impossible to know the ingredients of almost all of products in supermarkets because they are written only in Japanese.
It is pity that vegetarianism is not common in Japan, all the more the major religion in Japan is Buddhism, which normally forbid our eating animals.
However, I’m sure you can enjoy Japan with some tips
Knowing these difficulties, you may have been discouraged.
However, things have been changing. There are some vegetarian and vegan restaurants in big cities like Tokyo or Osaka. Japanese government is encouraging inbound tourism towards the Olympic Games in 2020 and Japan has been trying to become a country of diversity.
Of course it will take much for Japan to change, but I’m sure that you will be able to enjoy Japan including its food with a bit of tips and this is why I write this blog.
I will give you practical advice to be a vegan or vegetarian in Japan; I have survived as a vegetarian since 2006 and as a vegan since 2010. If you have any questions or requests, please ask.