Travel Japan Tips: Where to Find Vegan Restaurants in Japan

 What does it mean to go Vegan?

Veganism is a lifestyle choice of abstaining from the consumption of meat. This includes all sorts of animals such as pork, chicken, beef, seafood, and more. The thing that makes it even more interesting is the fact that vegans do not eat any animal products, literally ANY. They do not eat food with dairy and they also don’t eat eggs.

There are basically two types of veganism. The first is the Ethical Vegan and the second type is the Environmental Veganism. Ethical Vegans are those that live by the notions of completely abstaining from meat and animal derived products. They are also those who oppose the use of any animal derived products in all aspect of their lives. They do not use leather, wax, animal hair. They prefer organic materials and materials which are derived from plants such as hemp for clothing and textiles.

Environmental Vegans are those that avoid animal-derived products if the process for which these are made are not environmentally sustainable. These are the kinds of advocacies where the individual makes sure that there are no carbon footprints in the making of certain animal products, may they be edible or not.

A number of people attest to the fact that going vegan is a very difficult lifestyle choice. It entails an extreme sense of discipline and intense research. This is due to the fact that there are not that many restaurants and cafes that offer products for those who are strictly vegan.

Surviving society while being vegan can show certain challenges. For instance, there is a strong negative stigma against people who are strongly advocating animal rights. There are many restaurants that serve vegetarian-friendly food there are much fewer for vegans. This is because it is hard to find alternatives to dairy for certain cuisines.

Vegan vs. Vegetarian

A lot of people are wondering what the difference is between Veganism and Vegetarianism. Although the two may sound the same, these two are very different from each other. Vegetarians are those individuals who chose a lifestyle which does not consume any animal flesh and meat. This means they don’t eat chicken, seafood, beef, and pork. However, the difference is that they are allowed to consume meals that contain eggs and dairy products.

Vegetarianism has been derived from the idea that eating meat is pretty much murder. These people who undergo vegetarianism as a lifestyle believe that slaughtering animals for food is preposterous. Pretty much an animal rights advocacy, it has changed the world’s view of killing animals for food. Through the years, it has created a significant impact on political, environmental, and economic aspects of the meat industry.

There are, however, cultures all over the world where vegetarianism is based on their religious belief. For instance, there are certain sects of Christianity that believe that pig’s meat is dirty as it was indicated in the Bible. Also, Hinduism is another religion influenced vegetarianism. The difference is that they are not that strict with eating other meats such as that of pork, chicken, and seafood for as long as there is no beef in the meal. This is due to the fact that they consider cows as holy.

The history and challenges of vegans in Japan

For those Vegans traveling to Japan for the first time, it would be best to do some intensive research to find vegan-friendly restaurants and grocers. The first challenge is the language, it is much more difficult to find vegan-friendly restaurants in the country because it is not easy to order off a menu written in an unfamiliar language. Because of this language barrier, it is also difficult to ask which of the menu is vegan-friendly and if there are traces of any meat, egg or dairy in it.

Without a doubt, the Japanese are very conscious about their health and this can be easily seen from the food that they eat. However, it is difficult to find food that has no traces of fish, or meat in it.  The kind of food that will be difficult to avoid in Japan would be fish. Almost all their meals are sprinkled with a dash of dried bonito flakes, fish stock, and chicken broth.

Almost all sauces, special broths, soups, and salad dressings have a special hint of fish or chicken in it. Imagine ordering a vegan-friendly soba or udon noodle. The soup base of this is usually derived from fish stock and chicken stock, else a vegan will be served noodles in water.

The great thing about this is that there are a number of Japanese restaurants that have adjusted their menu to fit all kinds of eaters. They have included vegan-friendly meals to their menu in the recent years.

The typical Japanese meal

A typical Japanese meal is a good balance of protein from meat, vegetables, and carbohydrates. Typically, a normal Japanese meal has rice or potatoes. It is a staple in all Japanese meals. It is also common to find soups and salads as appetizers.

In any Japanese meal, it is normal to see pickled fruits and vegetables Known as tsukemono, Japanese pickles are usually made from vegetables or sometimes fruit. It is an important part of a meal. It is usually served in addition to rice to add flavor and to balance out the intense taste from meat. Or, this is to balance all the strong tastes from other parts of the meal. In every meal, it is also typical to see condiments and seasoning on the table. This adds special tastes to the meal, this includes nori, furikake, and tsukudani.

Salads, which are known as sunomono, is cooked vegetable salads which are marinated in different sauces. This is also a common appetizer or first course to a typical Japanese meal. Sometimes, these are served as side dish to add special flavors to dishes.

Vegan restaurants in Okinawa Japan

Ukishima Garden

One of the most popular restaurants in Okinawa, the Ukishima Garden is a great place to dine. This place is located near the main shopping strip of Naha. They serve both lunch and dinner to their guests. Since the meals do not contain any meat, eggs, or dairy, a lot of people expect the food to be bland. However, the food is still very tasty and no one will even notice that it is made from tofu and vegetables.

Photo by tzejen

One problem with this, on the other hand, is the fact that the food served on their menu tends to be a bit pricey. This is since most of their products are organic. They also serve wine during dinner time. A lot of reviews have indicated that their dishes are very creative. They have great flavor, texture, and consistency.

GubGub’s Vegan Kitchen

This is a popular vegan restaurant located in Toya, Okinawa, Japan. A lot of people go to this place to have a simple lunch. The entire restaurants serve American-inspired meals such as cheeseburgers, meatballs, and even pizza. One of the customer favorites would be the fries in curry sauce, teriyaki pizza, teriyaki burger and more.

The main reason why a lot of people enjoy going to GubGub is the fact that they serve very interesting food which is all vegan-friendly. These are very creative and no one will ever notice that it does not contain any meat. The best part of it is that they are all very affordable.


This place is located in Yomitan Okinawa. It is a small place that serves great vegan food. What is special about this place is the fact that there are options on the menu for vegans and also non-vegan individuals. It is pretty affordable and the best meals they serve are served during lunch.

Vegan restaurants in Osaka Japan

Raw8Cafe Osaka

A cute café located also in Osaka, this place is a favorite place to go to eat vegan-friendly dessert. They have Japanese sorbet of different flavors. All these are served with creamy sauces, cookies, mung beans, and more. There is other fruit flavored sorbet. Finding a vegan dessert place is very hard, so having this in Osaka is a rare find!

Green Earth

An Italian inspired restaurant located also in Chuo-ku Osaka, Green Earth is a great place to eat typical vegan versions of junk food. They have pasta, pizza, and sandwiches. They also have hot dogs and dessert. Those who travel to this place enjoy the flavorful food being served. What is best as well is that the staff speak excellent English. This way, the staff and the customers can easily discuss the options off the menu.

Organic & Vegetarian Café Atl

This place is located at Chuo-ku Osaka and is one of the best places to eat organic vegan food. They have soy options in place of dairy and milk. The most famous option on their menu is the Bagel plate which has a salad, bagel, and soup. This is best known as a hidden gem.

Vegan restaurants in Kyoto Japan


Known to serve zen vegetarian cuisine, they serve dishes that are well-known to be Zen Buddhist meals. They usually serve salads which are made from fresh vegetables, herbs and more. According to their philosophy, they serve food which provides enough nourishment and can sustain the body in the “true zen way”.


A popular vegetarian place in Kyoto, they serve meals which are very affordable. They serve tofu in different flavors and sauces. The staff are also very friendly and can explain well to their clientele the type of food that they serve. Most customers who visit the place testify that the meals they serve are all delicious and flavorful. Why not go a date here on a sweet February night?

Vegan restaurants in Tokyo Japan

Nagi Shokudo

Considered as the best vegetarian places in all of Shibuya, Nagi Shokudo is one of the best places to eat the hippest vegan food. They offer up Thai, Indian, or Japanese cuisines to their clientele. These are also a popular takeout joint for people who are always on the go. The downside to this restaurant, however, is the fact that they close pretty early during the night. So if the lines are long, it might be a good idea to expect the worst like waiting for hours.

Ain Soph Journey

Most of the food that is served here are light but still delicious. They have salads with vinaigrette, with walnut-miso dips – this is the absolute customer favorite. They also serve vegan donuts which are also very popular with their clients. They have a salad station in their restaurant which is an enjoyable activity to do – mixing vegetables together to make DIY salads.

T’s TanTan

This is also a popular destination in the area and is one of the only vegan ramen restaurants in Tokyo. They do have very limited options, but each is worth it and very tasty. They have salads, soups and other main course options as well other than ramen.

Photo by Tim Adams

The benefits of veganism and vegetarianism

The thing about veganism is that despite the fact that it all started out as an advocacy for animal rights, there are a lot of people who choose this lifestyle because of its health benefits. One is that it is a very good way to lose weight and staying healthy. Since animal fat is quite bad for the health, eating a lot of vegetables can improve the reduction of toxins inside the body. The vegan diet also opens up an individual to richer nutrients and proteins – providing organic alternatives and sources to these nourishments. Vitamins A, B, C and more are now more accessible due to certain vegan food and meals.

 Another benefit is the fact that there are certain diseases that are of lower risk due to veganism. These include heart disease and certain cancers. It may also lower blood sugar which is great for people who are suffering from diabetes.