Veganism in Japan is an extensive topic, so I decided to split it into two parts. Today, I’ll talk about the aspects that may cause some difficulties.
My experience is mainly tied to food and interacting with other people, as I don’t use makeup often and buy it only from LUSH and iHerb.
Not knowing Japanese is a problem. Unfortunately, packages usually do not have a “VEGAN” label. Sometimes animal derived ingredients are written not as hieroglyphics but using the alphabet, and it is difficult to memorize all the possible denominations in a few days.
Animal derived ingredients, by the way, can be used where you do not expect them. Cow milk is added into many soymilk products, while fish broth can often be found in vegetable dishes and even in some sweets.
Some familiar products are not sold in Japan. The only accessible grain is rice, because buckwheat, barley, wheat can only be ordered online but that is much more expensive than in Russia. Legumes are not sold in typical supermarkets, either. Lentils, canned beans and chickpeas can be found in shops with international goods, but tasty peas, unfortunately, are simply non-existent.
As is rye, multi-grain, and even white bread (to the point where almost always the only vegan option is ciabatta). Fully cooked and microwavable vegan meals in shops, and frozen premade vegan food is also very rare. When I am travelling and there is no time to cook, I am forced to eat rice - either in onigiri with seaweed or sushi rolls with natto, sometimes salads (if they are served with no sauce), fruits, and some snacks.
The most readily available vegan alternative is soy meat. Vegan cheese can be found only in one shop in my city, but it is not cheap and is completely tasteless.
Moreover, fruits and vegetables are expensive. One apple or pear costs about 100 rubles (€1.18).
There are few vegan options in restaurants as well. If the café is not purely vegan, then, most likely, there will be only one salad or vegetable dish available.
Not all Japanese people understand the difference between being vegetarian and vegan. In restaurants it is easier to say that I am vegetarian and, also, do not eat dairy, eggs and so on. By the way, as in other places, there is a tendency to view plant-based meals as good for you here. Therefore, many Japanese people go plant-based to have a healthier lifestyle.
In general, if you like cooking, are ready to spend time preparing meals from scratch and learn to use new ingredients, then being vegan in Japan is not only possible, but actually really interesting and varied!
Original post: www.instagram.com/p/CI8PrBXMUbv
Translated by: Sofya Pervukhina.