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Vegan food shopping made easier with ‘Is it Vegan Japan’

Are you in Japan and ready to dive into the exciting world of Japanese food? As a vegan, it can be challenging to know what is good to try and what isn’t. Sure, there are great English-language restaurant guides like Happy Cow and Vegewel, but there is a lack of information on vegan products in Japanese supermarkets and convenience stores. A quick search on vegan food in Japan will suggest things like inari sushi and kombu seaweed onigiri rice balls. But a little-known fact is that these products might not actually be vegan. Legally it is okay for manufacturers in Japan to not include something in the ingredient list if there is a small enough amount. The word they use to indicate this is “sono ta” in Japanese. Sometimes it is not indicated on the ingredient list at all. 

Seeing all the outdated and inaccurate information out there, we decided to revive the website Is it Vegan? Japan, which was originally started in 2012 but had been on a hiatus the past few years. We are happy to announce that new information is being uploaded regularly, including product photos and translated ingredient lists. In addition to information on convenience stores and supermarket food, you can find a list of possibly vegan fast-food, and a new section on vegan airport food in Japan.

Another initiative I am involved with though the Japan Vegan Labeling and Options Group, is petitioning for proper vegan food labeling in Japan. Currently, some imported foods have overseas vegan labeling, and a few vegan Japanese products are clearly marked by manufacturers, but no standardized vegan label exists at the nationwide level. We want to change that and we need your help. Please sign our petition in Japanese or English to send a strong message to the Japanese government about the need for proper vegan labeling.

Finally, we would like to hear from you about your experiences finding vegan food in Japan. Whether you have lived here or just passed through, we would appreciate it if you complete this questionnaire. We’ll share the results with the Japanese government and push hard to make Japan a more vegan-friendly place.

About the Author
Rachael is a permanent resident of Japan who has lived there 11 of the past 13 years. Her passions are studying Japanese, pole dancing and eating as much vegan food as possible.

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