Being a vegetarian in Japan is tough, but doable. Here is the low down of tips, information and survival.
  • has a set of printable cards for vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians or people who don't eat red meat.
  • People with life threatening food allergies may want to consider buying cards from
  • "Kansha" by Elizabeth Andoh is a great website for anybody who wants to cook vegan in Japan.

Organic Food

Need-to-know Japanese phrases
  • Dashi- is a commonly used Japanese stock made from fish. It is used in the broth of ramen noodles, miso soup, 'tamago' egg and other seemingly 'veggie-friendly' foods.
  • Things that vegetarians/vegans may consider animal products, may not be considered animal products by Japanese. Fish, for example, and Dashi.
    • Also, the Japanese word for meat - nikku 肉「にく」means *unprocessed* meat, so often times, things like bacon and ham are not included in this because they've been processed.
  • Sushi can be veggie friendly, but your choices are limited. The condiments are safe for vegetarians:
    Soy sauce - made from soy beans. Wasabi - green horseradish. Gari- pickled ginger.Safe sushi: kappa maki - Cucumber roll. Inarizushi - sushi rice wrapped in fried tofu skins. Sweet.
  • Saying you're allergic to meat/fish/dashi can get a stronger response, than just saying you don't want them to put it in.
  • A lot of restaurants will custom-make or alter dishes for you, if you ask. But be aware that unlike in other countries, Japan doesn't have a culture of being able to custom order your food, so occasionally, chefs might refuse.
  • Vegetarianism is not common in Japan, and it is not well understood. For example, on occasion chefs haven't seen bacon or other small pieces of meat as 'meat', so make sure to be very specific when giving instructions when your order food.
  • For school lunches, it may be 'safer' to prepare your own meals. Service of school lunch to a vegetarian teacher resulted in either the teacher avoiding the meat by themselves, or having it removed prior by the server. In any case, the school lunch was still cooked with animal products within.