VeggieBoards banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
i really feel like venting right now so bare with me.

i am all for cultural diversity but here in Japan, conformity is king. Going to restaurants and asking if a certain dish has any meat products in it is a real hassle. i don't make a big deal of my vegetarianism, just don't want any meat on my plate, however when eating out waiters in general find this pretty ****ing hilarious for some reason. the intolerance is quite staggering. i tell one of my best friends that i don't eat meat yet i get a lot of weird looks from her. sure, it's not common in your country, i don't even expect you to accept my personal reasons, i just expect some respect.

Another problem is just how rigid the japanese can be, they follow the rules to the letter. ask them to remove a certain aspect of the dish (be it meat or otherwise) and they will break down like a machine that has not been programmed to accept anything other than its' routines. there is no flexibility, the customer is not king, you get what you're given. in restaurants it's pure arrogance, in chains it's just pure incompetance.

the food itself is pretty limited for us but what is available to us is gorgeous. however here they seem to put meat in things just for the sake of it. can i walk into a convenience store and get a vegetarian sandwich? can i ****. bread is very popular here and the variety is quite staggering however a lot of them meat whilst the rest have some sort of dairy product filling so vegans are stuffed here. the rest is pretty obvious, lots of noodle dishes, most with fish/chicken/pork/beef stock. bento (essentielly a complete lunch on a tray for under 1000yen) are huge here but yet again, all have meat. want to go to a sushi bar with friends? well i hope you don't get too bored of constantly only having cold tofu to eat whilst everyone else has dozens of multi-coloured fish.

it's not all bad though, the tofu here is great (where can i buy this in the uk guys?), yakisoba noodles never gets old and vegetable tempura is gorgeous. i can't imagine any country worse than this for veg*nism though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,049 Posts
oh dear. one of my best friends, a vegan, is moving to Ise this week, for a teaching job. he was dreading this aspect of living in japan. i was hoping it wouldn't be as hard as he was predicting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Japan is the perfect country for guys (being macho is not my style but seriously it has everything a man could want), he will get over the food aspect with time as it's such an amazing place.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,144 Posts
Strange to hear, because Japan has a veg*n past. Or, maybe I´m mistaken and should say: Japan has a pescatarian past.

Does anyone know solid facts?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,895 Posts
This thread is very interesting to me... I love Japan, apart from this obvious and big downside/s... Anyfriggingway, you might care to note there was a man called tomjo32

from here at VB going there real soon...(supposedly still going but not seen him online ever since so maybe he's gone already?!!)...

Veganism and International Travel-}}http://veggieboards.com/boards/showt...ighlight=japan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,026 Posts
Oh no
I was just thinking about this the other day, if Japan is good for veg*nism, because I plan to apply to go there as an exchange student after next school year, and it didn't hit me that my being vegan would be a big hassle.. blah.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
177 Posts
Quote:
Originally posted by Lothar M Kirsch

Strange to hear, because Japan has a veg*n past. Or, maybe I´m mistaken and should say: Japan has a pescatarian past.

Does anyone know solid facts?
I only know (what I have heard) that japan was a fish eating country. They mostly live on fish/sea food. They were very healthy. Only when the West came to them (you know your history) then they were getting more and more of the 'junk food' of the West countries.

If it was a 100% pescatarian past, I don't know.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,778 Posts
Quote:
Originally posted by Captain Green

Japan is the perfect country for guys (being macho is not my style but seriously it has everything a man could want), he will get over the food aspect with time as it's such an amazing place.
What do you mean with "everything a man could want"?

Interesting info about Japan's (non-)veg*nism!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,301 Posts
I feel your pain Captain. Being Veggie in Japan really is a challenge, and it will never be easy.

Requesting no MEAT isn't too hard, but getting fish-free is very difficult because dashi is made with bonito flakes (fish) and almost all prepared miso contains dashi. Almost without exception soup bases contain dashi, beef, or chicken based flavoring.

Try not to be too hard on the people though. This is their culture - and they don't have our advantage (westeners) of being naturally flexible to new (different) ideas. Most of us westerners are basically products of a melting pot - especially the Americans!
Japan was a closed society for the longest time with absolutely no outside influence whatsoever - so they are kind of catching up even now.

When a Japanese person laughs or makes a joke about something different it usually isn't to make fun (most would consider that rude) - instead laughing, giggling, or joking is a way of handling a situation where they don't know what else to do (like some people giggle when they are nervous - or make a joke in an inappropriate situation). Veganism, Animal Welfare, Animal rights, etc. - these are new concepts in Japan - and it's going to take a good long time for them to even be addressed here. Most people here aren't even exposed enough to the ideas to have an opinion at all (which is why we would get the blank stares and weird looks - maybe some giggles). It's just going to take some time.

As far as inflexibility - you are right, but there are lots of reasons this is so .... all based on the social structure and culture here - and it's too complicated to go into in this post.

Consider this though. Japanese might consider us a bit inflexible to demand, without exception, a meal completley free of meat, meat by-products, fish, eggs, milk, honey.........
(though they would almost never ever say "you're being inflexible" - as this would be rude - something Japanese people almost never are intentionally).

Japanese society in general never had a plant based diet. Not even the Buddhists except for Buddhist Monks (thank goodness for the monks - Shojin-Ryori food is a national treasure). Even with Buddhist monks this isn't a steadfast rule if the monks go on alms (they must eat whatever is put into the begging bowl - even if it's bits of meat). With Zen Buddhism - it's less about what you eat - and more about how you eat it


Here are a couple of things I've learned:

Japan is a very different culture from ours (as many asian cultures are - Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, etc.). There are things I am not going to understand simply because I have western values. I can only try and understand some parts that are truly a mystery to me.

Might sound really corny - but I've become a much better person being exposed to this culture. All the things I cannot accept (particularly prejudice in various forms that come up from time to time) - I simply ignore.

Find a sympathetic friend who is bi-lingual and ask them to translate your desires. If you try and get the message across in English - that would be hard.

When eating out - plan ahead and have a friend request a special meal be prepared. Many restaurants will oblige (I'm going to a Chinese place on Sunday that is preparing a vegan meal for me - my friend asked when she made the reservation). Your Japanese friend will know the polite and correct way to make such a request.

Discover Shojin-Ryori food!!

Here is a link for information and some places to go (Sanko in is awesome!)

Shojin-Ryori Food in Japan

Before you go - go to this site and read what some nice western person took the time to post about Shojin-Ryori

How I learned to stop worrying and love Japan

(that is actually the title of the web page - cute)

More of a modern Veggie restaurant:

Cafe 8 (vegan restaurant)

Omotesando, Tokyo

3F 4-27-15 Minami Aoyama Minato-ku

Anyway - hang in there Captain!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by sunnyk

I would ask dvmarie for some info; she lives in Japan also.
Done but you can never get too much information out of her


With restaurants though we never book in advance or plan things, we just go to whatever's nearest to us and around 1000Y a head (so Omotesando is out
). Chinese restaurants are a lot more flexible I find and have slightly better choice.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top