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While the plant-based trend seems to have experienced a slower uptick in Japan, it looks like it’s now hitting the country in a major way. From vegan bakeries serving up dairy-free Japanese-style milk buns to 100% plant-based burger joints and an all-vegan konbini setting up shop, there’s no doubt that the movement is heating up now. Below we showcase five indicators that Japan’s vegan food scene is flourishing.
1. MOS Burger adds vegan green burger to its menu
In March, popular Japanese burger chain MOS Burger added a new soy and konjac-based vegan patty to its menu. Called the MOS Plant-based Green Burger, the new burger imitates the classic MOS Burger, but does not contain any dairy, eggs or meat. It was developed in line with the SDGs as a more planet-friendly alternative option for consumers who want to reduce their carbon footprint.
2. Vegan konbini is now a thing
There’s now a completely vegan convenience store or konbini in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighbourhood. Called the Vegan Store, the store is filled to the brim with on-the-go plant-based snacks, bento boxes, onigiri rice balls, household goods and even 100% vegan soft-serve ice cream. Convenience store culture is huge in Japan, so a plant-based one is the beginning of a sea of change.
3. Japanese food tech Daiz plans to produce 3,300 tonnes of plant-based meat per year
Daiz announced earlier this year that it will use the capital that it has raised from investors to open one of the biggest vegan meat factories in the country. The facility will be able to produce a whopping 3,300 tonnes of its proprietary soy-based meat, it revealed, demonstrating significant demand from consumers. Daiz also hinted that it is looking to go public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
4. Tokyo burger joint Great Lakes has gone 100% plant-based
Great Lakes Tokyo, a burger joint in the Japanese capital, has recently wiped beef and dairy off its menu and turned into a completely vegan restaurant. It first opened in December last year, but quickly had to shut its doors when coronavirus hit the city – and it was during this time when founder John Penny began learning about how the livestock industry is linked to the emergence of zoonotic diseases. He promptly adapted his fast casual eatery into a cruelty-free zone.
5. Vegan bakeries are landing in the capital
You know that veganism is hitting Japan when plant-based bakeries and cafés begin to pop up, given that the Japanese are almost more serious about their bakeries than the French. The new 1100 Cafe/Bakery, for instance, is the latest to set up shop in the city of Kawaguchi. Since late June, the shop has been offering vegans, flexitarians and lactose-intolerant folk plant-based versions of Japanese bakery classics, including red bean buns, raisin bread and other favourites, along with an entirely vegan drinks menu of oat milk lattes.
Lead image courtesy of Getty Images.