カテゴリー: Vegetarian/vegan foods in Japan

The first vegan meal in the Japanese convenience store industry

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March 2020 saw a memorial step toward veganism: first vegan meal in the Japanese convenience stores.

On 17th of March 2020, Family Mart launched a vegan meal called “soy-patty burger bowl”. I just tried it. It was JPY 498.

On the package is a vegan mark as you see in the picture. The label tells that it must be eaten hot: to be microwaved for 1 minute (1,600W) or 3 minutes 30 seconds (500W).

It’s a typical Japanese “don” dish. The bowl is composed of two layers. The bottom part is filled with rice and the upper part is with vege-meat and some vegetables. The sauce is like “demi-glace” and has rich taste. After microwaving the whole of the bowl, you put the meat and the vegetables on the rice; the combination of rice and the sauce was nice and beautiful.

Very unfortunately this nice and beautiful product still is limited in Tokyo and I do really hope it will be available all over Japan. If you are in Tokyo, just go to your nearby Family Mart and try one.

https://www.family.co.jp/company/news_releases/2020/20200313_01.html

Ready-to-eat meals that vegetarians and vegans can get at ordinary Japanese supermarkets and convenience stores

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How can vegetarians find food in Japan?

 

Travelling in Japan, you won’t have much difficulty in finding vegetarian/vegan restaurants in big cities like Tokyo or Osaka. In small cities or towns, however, it still is hard to find a decent restaurants for vegetarians. Most ordinary restaurant will serve some dishes that vegetarians and vegans can have, but it could be a problem for you to get the staff to understand what you don’t eat if you don’t speak Japanese.

 

If you want to be safe, supermarkets and convenience stores would be an option. If you are a vegetarian and have milk and egg, there won’t be much problem. The stores have lots of different types of bread. The problem for vegans is that Japanese bread typically contain milk and/or egg to be soft; most Japanese people don’t like dry and hard bread like we find in Europe (I heard the Japanese don’t secrete as much saliva as Westerners do though I’m not very sure if it’s true). Even French baguette might contain milk in Japan.

 

Typical foods that I buy in these stores as a vegan are rice balls/triangles (onigiri) stuffed with pickled ume or kelp. There are many more different kinds of rice balls/triangles but unfortunately most of them are seasoned with with chiken extract or stock from fish.

I also buy fresh salad but you need to be very careful when you choose a dressing because it may contain chien extract. You may also find pickled vegetables, which are normally vegan.

There aren’t many other options except for simple foods such as dry fruit and nuts.

 

Japan isn’t the best place for vegans and above are the only vegan options in most shops, so I would strongly recommend you look for nice and decent restaurants before you come. But if you don’t mind spending a few days without good meals, you will always have these limited options anywhere in Japan; there are about 57,000 convenience stores all over Japan.