Want to know more about vegan snacks in Japan? Eating vegan in Japan can be a bit of a minefield – between the language barrier and the fact that fish and seafood products seem to creep their way into EVERYTHING, it can be a tricky situation to navigate for many foreigners.
So, I decided to put together a list of tips and tricks for eating vegan in Japan, which I’ll be featuring on my blog as part of a three-part series. And, because we all know being hangry when travelling is just the worst, I’ve decided to start with snacks!
I’ve compiled a list of vegan-friendly snacks that you’ll easily be able to get hold of from most supermarkets, convenience stores or by the roadside. Quite conveniently, a lot of traditional Japanese snacks happen to be naturally vegan, and also gluten-free. Obviously ingredients do vary from brand to brand, so I can’t 100% guarantee that all of these products listed below will be vegan, but this is just a rough guide of the types of foods you should be looking out for!
Mochi are sticky rice cakes often filled with sweet red bean paste. You can buy lots of different types of mochi in supermarkets, convenience stores, traditional Japanese sweet shops and just by the side of the road. For the best quality, most authentic-tasting mochi, I’d suggest buying something from a traditional mochi shop. However, one thing to bear in mind is that mochi does sometimes contain dairy products, so if you’re dairy-free, it’s best to avoid mochi ice cream, or cream-filled mochi.
Walnut mochi filled with sweet red bean paste:
Mochi being cooked on the roadside in Asakusa:
Sticks of mochi topped with sweet chestnut paste and cherry blossom-flavoured (!!) white bean paste:
Mochi filled with sweet edamame bean paste:
More of the above:
A selection of different types of mochi:
Dried/candied fruit and vegetables
I’d recommend branching out from raisins and trying out some of the more unusual dried and candied snacks available in Japan. Sweet potatoes are popular, as well as beans, and in terms of fruit, dried persimmon is delicious. These all tend to be naturally gluten-free.
I love these candied sweet potato slices:
More candied sweet potato – it tastes reminiscent of marron glacé:
Candied beans. Sounds weird, tastes amazing:
Dried sweet potato – it tastes a bit like dried mango but less sweet:
Finally, a savoury snack! Vegetable crisps seem to be super popular in Japan at the moment. They’re generally slightly thicker than the ones sold in the West. These also tend to be naturally gluten-free, though it’s best to double-check yourself.
More vegetable chips but using lots of unusual vegetables like French beans, okra, pumpkin, radish etc:
Similar to the above but for dogs:
Deep-fried salted broad beans. These are ADDICTIVE:
Crispy little sticks of deep-fried, sugar-coated sweet potato deliciousness:
Same as above but using purple sweet potatoes (!) instead:
These are a very traditional Japanese sweet snack. They’re basically clusters of puffed rice glued together with sugar, and also tend to be naturally gluten-free, though some of them may contain gluten in the form of soy sauce.
Same as the above but in a different shape:
Japanese bakeries are amazing and smell divine. However, a lot of bread in Japan contains dairy products which is unfortunate. The types of bread that tend to not contain dairy are the ones filled with nuts and dried fruit, like this delicious rye loaf filled with dried cranberries and chestnuts:
Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you found this helpful. Do you have any useful tips for eating vegan in Japan? If so, please share below!
You can check out my post about vegan drinks and I’ll be posting about vegan restaurants in Japan soon!