Being a Vegetarian / Vegan in Ehime

We won't lie to you. Being a vegetarian in Japan is a very difficult lifestyle. Mostly because the majority of foods in Japan will usually have some type of fish product in them that may hinder you to stay noble to your beliefs. But please don't worry. All hope is not lost. Below are a few ways to help you live your vegetarian/vegan life comfortably and happily in Japan.

Vegetarian / Vegan in Japan Guidebook

  • This guidebook provided by National AJET is every vegetarian / vegan's best friend. It contains nutritional information taken from authoritative resources, and Japan-specific advice on how to meet these nutritional needs using locally-available foods.
  • The Shopping Guide section lists an impressive number of foods, detailing what they are as well as the kanji and romaji reading for them. It's very useful for avoiding animal products, sugar, and MSG. It also includes a labeling section with exactly what might appear on food, and explanations of what the kanji means.
  • The Vegan section includes a specific list of warnings about the contents of foods that might not be anticipated, such as the inclusion of fish products in miso.It's also got Vegan and Raw-Vegan ‘shopping requests' and ‘restaurant requests,' letters in both English in Japanese that can explain to the Japanese people who are helping you exactly what foods are okay and what aren't. It also has an explanation sheet in English and Japanese of what Veganism is, so you can show it to people who might be curious about your diet.
  • There are recipes as well, but they are more catered to the international, including Indian and Middle Eastern. However, it does include recipes for Japanese veggie soup stocks, okonomiyaki, tempura, vegan sushi, and an entire section on tofu.
  • Towards the end are a heap of resources on vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, cooking, nutrition, and animal rights.
  • The guidebook can be downloaded on the National AJET website.

Shopping Online for food

  • Warabemura Wholefoods
    • Located in Gifu-ken, this company specialises in natural whole foods, that have been grown organically with absolutely no artificial additives, colourings or flavourings. They only use natural sweeteners such as Brown Rice Malt and all their products are completely dairy, egg, fish, and meat free. They also carry other products such as aromatherapy oils, toiletry and cleaner items, beeswax crayons, books on vegetarian, macrobiotic foods, juicing, healing and yoga, etc.

      Warabemura Wholefoods
      342, Takanosu, Kamono-cho, Minokamo-shi, Gifu-ken, 501-3300
      Tel: 0574-54-1355 / Fax: 0120-54-1495
  • Alishan Organic Center
    • Located in Saitama, the Alishan center provides the Foreign and Japanese community with imported organic and vegetarian foods from different parts of the world. Their products range from organic foods, environmentally safe cleaning supplies and much more to make your life in Japan a lot happier and healthier. Alishan also has a cafe and event space center for grass roots activities, shows and events.

      Tengu Natural Foods
      185-2 Komahongo, Hidaka-Shi, Saitama Ken, 350-1251
      Tel: 042-982-4811 / Cafe Tel: 042-982-4823 / Fax: 0429-82-4813
  • Ambika Trading Company
    • Since 1998, this internet company delivers a variety of delicious 100% vegetarian Indian foods to Japan only. It's goals are to promote Indian culture and also provide authentic Indian products to the foreign and Japanese community.

      Ambika Trading Co
      3-19-2 Ambika House, Kuramae, Taito-ku, Tokyo, Japan; 111-0051
      Tel: 03-5822-6655 / Fax: 03-5822-6656

Different Types of Tofu

  • Men-tofu or Momen-tofu - (“cotton”) The texture is firm and dense. Good for stir-frying.
  • Yaki-dofu is seared momen. A very firm tofu.
  • Nama-age is fried momen. The outside is honey-coloured while the inside is soft. Perfect for BBQ-ing.
  • Abura-age is thin fried momen. It has no soft parts. Inari-zushi style.
  • Koya-tofu is frozen and then defrosted again. It is extremely firm.

Vegetarian Restaurants in Ehime

  • Ladkhi Indian Restaurant
    • The first one is around the corner from Shieki. Follow the tram line in front of Takashimaya Dept Store for about two blocks up on the right-hand side opposite to Mr. Donuts. It's a little easy to miss. Look for the colourful sign on the sidewalk.
    • The second one is on Ichibancho. At the entrance to Okaido when you are facing the Starbucks, turn right and walk down. If you get lost, look for the Baskin Robbins. It's across the street from it.
  • Everest Indian Restaurant
    • From the Starbucks, walk into the Okaido shopping arcade. Cross one traffic signal and it will be on your right hand side.
  • Charilie's Vegetables
    • Near the Starbucks at Okaido's entrance

General Tips

  • Bring your own dashi (soup stock/dipping sauce for noodles) to restaurants
  • Grains such as barley (mugi) and millet (kibi or awa) are often mixed in with rice before cooking in Japan. These grains improve the nutritional value of your food, and can often be found in the rice section of the grocery store.
  • Local farmer's markets are a great source of organic or low-pesticide produce. And the farmers selling them are a good source of information about how to cook what you've bought
  • Onigiri (rice balls) are sold at the local convenience stores(conbini) and come in vegetarian flavours, such as ume (pickled plum).
  • "Aji no moto" and "kagaku choumiryou" are natural and chemical versions of MSG. Unfortunately, sometimes their labeling is obscure. Please ask your local supermarket attendant.
  • "Kanten" is a natural jelly made from seaweed used in sweets. But be careful not to mix it up with gelatin, which is an animal product.
  • Rennet-less cheeses are mostly only available through Tengu. And apparently Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese (regular-fat version) has no rennet.

Useful Phrases

  • “I am a vegetarian. I do not eat meat.” (pork, chicken, fish, shrimp, octopus, squid, sea urchin)
    “Watashi wa bejitarian desu. Niku o taberaremasen.” (butaniku, toriniku, sakana, ebi, tako, ika, uni)
  • "What is in this food?"
    "Nani ga haite imasu ka?"
  • "Does this have ( ) in it?"
    "Kore wa ( ) ga haite imasu ka?
  • "What do you recommend on the menu?"
    "Kono menyu de, o-susume wa nan desu ka?"