Japanese Survival Guide for Vegans (How to be vegan in Japan)

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

All the Japanese you'll need to know to order at a restaurant, go to a supermarket, go to a convenience store, and explain your diet.


(You can check out the video below for pronunciation tips)



If you don't use or learn anything else, use this image. You can learn how to say it or you can just show it to your waiter/server/grocery store employee or whoever you might need to show:



Some things to know before we get started. If you have never even tried speaking Japanese before, it is not pronounced anything like English. I wrote a handy guide on how to pronounce Japanese characters for beginners.


For some more helpful tips on your travels to or living in Japan, I also have a post for basic Japanese phrases every traveller should know and 24 things you should know before traveling or moving to Japan.


AND, if you don't want to miss it, sign up for my email list because a new post is coming soon:

"Japanese survival guide to reducing your waste."



A few more things to note:


- Dashi is an animal based broth. Be sure even things like "soy sauce ramen" are dashi free

- Bonito flakes are your other worst enemy: dried tuna. It comes on a lot of dishes

- Konbini is how they say convenience store, I use it throughout

- Supa is their word for supermarket, I also use this throughout


And with all that out of the way let's dive in. I hope these are helpful to you and come in handy. If you have any corrections or additions PLEASE don't hesitate to reach out. I would love for this to be the most up to date and accurate!



Explaining your diet:


I am vegetarian

  • Watashi wa bejitarian desu

- Japanese term for vegetarian: saishoku shugisha

  • Though it does not always mean the same thing as the English term. So, go on to explain your restrictions

I don’t eat meat

  • Watashi wa niku wo tabemasen

I don’t eat pork

  • Watashi wa pooku wo tabemasen

I am vegan

  • Watashi wa biigan desu

I don’t eat meat

  • Watashi wa niku wo tabemasen

I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy

  • Watashi wa niku, sakana, tamago, nyuuseihin wo tabemasen

I don’t eat butter, cheese, eggs, or honey

  • Watashi wa bataa, chiizu, tamago, hachimitsu wo tabemasen

I don’t eat pork

  • Watashi wa pooku wo tabemasen

I love animals so I don’t eat them

  • Watashi wa doubutsu ga daisuki nanode oniku wa tabemasen

I don’t eat butter, I prefer margarine

  • Watashi wa bataa wo tabemasen. Maagarin no hou ga suki desu

Vegan foods are free of all animal products like meat, eggs, fish, and dairy

  • Biigan no tabemono wa oniku tamago, sakana, nyuuseihin ga haitte imasen

I cannot east dashi either

  • Watashi wa dashi mo taberaremasen

- Dashi is like fish broth or stock



For restaurants:


Do you have vegetarian food (dishes)?

  • Bejitarian no ryouri (tabemono) wa arimasu ka

Is there anything on the menu that does not have meat?

  • Menyuu no naka ni oniku ga haitteinai mono wa arimasu ka

Do you have something I can eat that is not fish or meat?

  • Oniku to sakana ga haitteinai mono wa arimasu ka

Do you know any good vegetarian (vegan) restaurants?

  • Oishii bejitarian (biigan) no resutoran wo shitteimasu ka

Can you recommend some vegan (vegetarian) restaurants?

  • Osusume no biigan (bejitarian) resutoran wa arimasu ka

Do you have vegan food (dishes)?

  • Began no ryouri (tabemono) wa arimasu ka?

Does this contain dairy products?

  • Kore wa nyuuseihin wo fukumi masu ka

Is there anything on the menu that does not have meat?

  • Menyuu no naka ni oniku ga haitteinai mono wa arimasu ka

Do you have something I can eat that is not fish or meat?

  • Oniku to sakana ga haitteinai mono wa arimasu ka

Are there eggs in this?

  • Kore ni wa tamago wa haitteimasu ka

Do you have anything plant-based?

  • Shokumotsusei no mono wa arimasu ka

Does this contain dairy products?

  • Kore wa nyuuseihin ga haitteimasu ka

Do you know any good vegetarian (vegan) restaurants?

  • Oishii bejitarian (biigan) no resutoran wo shitteimasu ka

Can you recommend some vegan (vegetarian) restaurants?

  • Osusume no biigan (bejitarian) resutoran wa arimasu ka

Do you have gluten-free bread?

  • Mu guruuten no pan wa arimasu ka

Can I have this but without cheese?

  • Kore wo chiizu nuki de chuumon deki masu ka

  • Substitute other words here like meat, dairy, fish, etc. See chart below

Does the naan contain dairy, cheese, butter, yogurt, or eggs?

  • Nan ni wa nyuuseihin, chiizu, bataa, yooguruto, matawa tamago ga fukumi rete imasu ka

  • Most curry places (Japanese, Indian, etc) serve naan but most naans contain one or more of these ingredients

Are any of these dairy free?

  • Korera no nyuuseihin wa muryoo desu ka

Are there any choices without dairy (or eggs)?

  • Nyuuseihin (ya tamago) nashi no sentakushi wa arimasu ka

Does this contain dairy products?

  • Kore wa nyuuseihin wo fukumi masu ka


Building Sentences:


To say “without” or “omit” or “none” or a certain item:

  • “Nashi de onegaishimasu” (literally “without”) at the end of a sentence

For example:


  • No meat please: Niku nashi de onegaishimasu

  • No egg please: tamago nashi de onegaishimasu

  • No dairy please: nyuuseihin nashi de onegaishimasu

  • No meat, dairy, or eggs please: niku, nyuuseihin, tamago nashi de onegaishimasu


OR, use the following blueprint:


Please get rid of ____ from the dish

  • ____ nashi de onegaishimasu

Can I have this but without ____?

  • Kore wo _____ nuki de chuumon deki masu ka


Reading Labels:


  • Extract of Bonito (カツオエキス、鰹エキス)

  • Dried bonito flakes (かつおぶし / カツオブシ/ 鰹ぶし/ 鰹節)

  • Extract of pork (豚エキス / ポークエキス)

  • Extract of chicken (チキンエキス / 鶏エキス)

  • Extract of beef (ビーフエキス / 牛エキス)

This site here is super helpful when it comes to reading labels in a Konbini or supa


Phrases for shopping:


Some of these are vegan specific while others will just help you navigate a store better

Is this vegan?

  • Kore wa biigan desu ka

What is this?

  • Kore wa nan desu ka

Do you have ____?

  • ____ wa arimasu ka

How much is it?

  • (O)ikura desu ka

This one, please

  • Kore, onegaishimasu

Is there a convenience store around here?

  • Kono henni konbini arimasu ka

If asked: are you looking for something/may I help you?

  • Nanika osagashi desu ka

Where is ____?

  • ____ da doko ni arimasu ka......OR

  • ____ wa doko desu ka

Do you have tofu products?

  • Toufu no seihin wa arimasu ka

Will you warm it up for me? (at konbinis, they often warm up things like onigiri, sandwiches, breads, etc)

  • Atatame te morae masu ka......OR

  • Atatame kudasai

Do I need to keep them in the fridge?

  • Reizouko de Hokan shita houga yoi desu ka

Can I pay by card?

  • Kaado wa tsukaemasu ka (literally “do you take card?”)......OR

  • Kaado wa daijoubu desu ka (literally “is card okay?”)

What do you recommend?

  • Osusume wa arimasu ka

Is there an ATM?

  • ATM wa arimasu ka



At the Supa:


A lot of vegan products in a supermarket (often just called “supa”) are labeled as such in English. Look out for these products!


  • Vegan instant ramen (add veg or tofu) like Osawa Japan and Sakurai Foods brands

  • Chaya Macrobiotics Keema Curry

  • Tofu (several ways)

  • Soy meat

  • Soy and Almond milk

  • Brown rice flour bread

  • Soy yogurt

  • Fruit & Veg

  • Dango/mocha

  • Soy ice cream

  • Moringa Macrobiotic cookies/biscuits

  • Vegan cheese: 私のヴィーガンシュレッド and “相模屋”

  • Miso paste

  • Oatmeal