Photo: Chris 73 - CC by SA 3.0

Making vegan and organic dishes in Japan

By Luke Mahoney, grape Japan

There is a ton of great food in Japan. From elaborate homegrown New Year’s meals to spectacular seafood catches, foodies have countless delectable dishes to choose from. And with the proliferation of Uber Eats, many needn’t even leave their homes in order to indulge

Nevertheless, despite the fact that eating meat was banned for centuries in Japan, the island nation is hardly friendly to vegetarian or vegan diners. Meat consumption has increased throughout recent years, and the country does not seem to have much of a modern tradition of vegetarianism. For example, restaurant staff often misinterpret requests for vegetarian orders, and fish-based products are surprisingly difficult to avoid.

That said, it is possible to avoid eating animal products for diners who put in the due diligence and know some basic Japanese—and kanji. YouTubers and various websites also provide recipes and helpful hints for vegetarian and vegan home cooking.

On their YouTube channel, videlicious (ビデリシャス – おいしい動画) feature a series of videos by Peaceful Cuisine. The set showcases various types of vegetarian and vegan dishes, some of which are traditional Japanese meals without meat. Here are some of the more mouth-water pieces.

Veggie Dumplings

Gyoza, dumplings, are a tasty treat and perennial favorite at ramen restaurants across Japan. Unfortunately, they typically include pork or other ground meats. Peaceful Cuisine, however, shows that a delicious alternative can be made with soy meat for vegetarian palates.

Per viewer request, gyoza is on the menu tonight. Peaceful Cuisine begins by making the vegetarian filling. He boils and drains the soy meat, and mixes it with chopped green onions and cabbage. He adds grated garlic and ginger, and then the wet ingredients—soy sauce, sesame seed oil, and mirin—and salt.

Although most cooks use store-bought gyoza wraps, Peaceful Cuisine opts to make them from scratch. The dough is made from flour and water, and easy enough to get started. However, it can be messy and hard to handle for beginners who may prefer the pre-made alternative.

Finally, the vlogger places the filling in the wrap, folding and pinching the top. The dumplings are cooked in oil and water and heated until the water is gone and the gyoza is browned on the bottom.

Curry Buns

Another quick snack, curry buns (カレーパン) are found at nearly every bakery. While they are delicious, the Japanese curry they contain is typically not vegetarian. Naturally, Peaceful Cuisine has a meat-free alternative he is ready to prepare.

The vlogger starts by chopping garlic, ginger, onion, green pepper, carrot, and a potato—all typical ingredients of Japanese curry. The garlic, ginger, and onion are cooked in oil, and the vegetables added a little later. He adds water and continues cooking until the vegetables are done.

In a separate cup, Peaceful Cuisine mixes salt, flour, curry powder, and water to make the curry base. It is mixed into the cooked vegetables.

Next up is the dough, consisting of flour, bread flour, oil, cane sugar, salt, water, and yeast. Peaceful Cuisine makes the dough by mixing the ingredients in a bowl and kneading the result. He leaves the dough covered to ferment until it has doubled in size.

Like with the gyoza wrap, the dough is divided into pieces and flattened using a rolling pin. The curry mix is placed on the wrap, and the bun is formed in a fashion similar to folding the gyoza. Peaceful Cuisine then adds bread crumbs to the exterior and lets the buns ferment a bit more while covered. Finally, the curry buns are deep-fried for two minutes on each side and allowed to drain. Bon appetit.

Veggie Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu is another excellent dish typical in Japan. While it contains tofu, this spicy Chinese cuisine item also typically contains ground pork or other meats. Fortunately, a vegetarian version can be whipped up in a jiffy.

Peaceful Cuisine begins by hydrating dried Shiitake mushrooms and draining firm tofu. He adds garlic, ginger, and doubanjiang to seasame oil heated in a skillet. After heating the ingredients, he adds the tofu and cooks it until its dry.

After seasoning the mushrooms and throwing in some corn starch, he adds the mixture and more tofu and green onions to the pan. Mix while heating, and voila, it's done.

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© grape Japan

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Avoid organic food, it is a disaster for the environment. Also, organic does not mean pesticides were not used, it means "organic" pesticides were used; wink wink.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Okay, downvoter, I hope you enjoy your "organic" food sprayed with rocket fuel. That's right, hydrogen peroxide is used as a fungicide for organic food, it is also used for rocket fuel. A small spill of a few liters of hydrogen peroxide shut down half of downtown New York city a few years ago while the hazmat team cleaned it up. That is just one of the approved chemicals used in organic agriculture. Enjoy!

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Sorry—organic farming is actually worse for climate change

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Another one of those food fads.

Vegan and Japanese food do not and should not be mentioned in the same sentence. The best Japanese cuisine are all non-vegan. Tempura, sushi, unagi and oyako don.....

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I wonder if there are any different dishes between Japanese restaurant and Japanese countryside village houses.

Example, in China, Mongolia, Nepal, foods in their restaurant and countryside villages are so much different. So delicious (also healthy) that you won't spend yr hard earned cash at the restaurant unless you really have to.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@proxy Sorry—organic farming is actually worse for climate change

You are just a flat earther in a different way. You gave a link to prove yourself. I read that article and within 2nd paragraph i found out that facts are twisted. They say that organic farming takes up more space hence emits more green-house. Which seems true but more gases than what? simple farming? by how much or which crop?...and that cannot give you a green-light to eat a pig that eats a 1000 kg to be of consumable size which is basic essence of veganism and not organic farming, to begin with.

Secondly, organic farming usually takes up more space but that's simply not true for every crop. We had organic tomatoes locally grown in a green house farm. It took almost same space, just that it was more hard to take care of that crop.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

as a vegan, Japanese cuisine lends itself to plant based very well. More potato and kombu dashi. Have to watch the bonito and fish dashi though, some cooks don't get it. There's always Buddhist cuisine which has specific rules but it's a start. Cucumber, yam, omeboshi onigiri are easy to find.

Meanwhile y'all COVID sick because of meat eating so don't ever think or question that paradigm. Don't eat the animals and their diseases won't be out for revenge. Plant based milk grew by $16 billion while cow milk fell, so if it's a market trend you're following, follow the money.

Hilarious meltdown on organic farming. People paying real costs for quality food. Japan does like quality so that's a perfect match.

Given the different varieties of vegetables and fruits in Japan it would be a wonderful adventure to enjoy!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you want to take the environmental approach, just do a photo search for CO2 beef veg to see all the graphs showing just how skewed the beef pollution really is. Note all the meat are high emitters and all the veggies are laughably low. If you wanted to go by facts then vegan wins again, as it always will.

It always seems to be Americans though that are in the way but funny enough veganism is exploding there too so it's just the sour grapes that have a beef. Many recent documentaries backed by science.

Impossible Burger etc making money. Huge untapped demand

For any diet questions go to Americans pay for the research, we might as well read it (or have a doctor make a video about it)

Bon Appétit!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Organic food is safer, possibly more nutritious, and often better tasting than nonorganic food. 

Peaceful Cuisine YouTuber one of the best.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Gagan Narang

That was just a primer. Organic agriculture promotes using manure for fertilizer. Manure comes from animals which are supposedly bad for the environment. All organic agriculture claims relying on animal waste makes it better but those animals have to eat, making it by definition less sustainable. Organic agriculture relies on tillage for weed control. Tillage is really bad for soil. Virtually all crop land in Western Canada has been under sustainable conservation tillage for years. There is no way you will ever convince a farmer in Saskatchewan to start cultivating again unless they can charge 10 times as much for what people are willing to pay from bread now. Organic agriculture is just mining the soil. There are really nasty things like fusarium graminarium that produce DON in wheat and barley that need to be kept under control through best management practices that need to include the application of a foliar fungicide when required otherwise the crop is not fit for either human or animal consumption. Yes, low levels of DON kernels can be separated using a color sorter but it becomes uneconomical in a year with severe disease pressure.

On beef: there are over 5 million hectares of land used just in the province of Alberta for grazing cattle. The ecosystem of that land evolved under grazing pressure from bison. It needs to be grazed. It is really poor environmental management to destroy that land by not grazing it with cattle. Yes there are plenty of feedlots in Alberta that use grain. The feed market absorbs either grain that is unfit for human consumption thus greatly reducing waste grain that would otherwise be burned or buried in a hole or grain that is produced when farmers rotate their crops for good soil management, disease and pest management reducing the need for the use of pesticides. There is not 1 farmer anywhere on the Canadian prairies who does not rotate her crops. They cannot grow wheat on wheat on wheat without a huge build up of weeds, insects and disease. Soil borne diseases like club root in canola, of vital importance to Japan, would wipe out production if farmers did not rotate into barley.

Oilseed rape production in the UK used to be almost 2 million acres but looks likely to drop to close to 1 million acres this year because of the ban on neonic seed treatments. This results in shorter crop rotations and is much worse for the long term health of the soil and the environment.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )


What do you mean "safer?" I have some GMO free organic mushrooms growing on my lawn if you want to buy them and feel that they are "safer." There are plenty, plenty, or organic food recalls issued by health authorities.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Must be great to be paid to just watch YouTube videos and write about them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Proxy is a corporate factory farmer trying to defend the undefendible. We hear similar lies from farmers in the west mostly regarding use of scarce water while the same idiot farmers use open ditch irrigation of row crops and flood irrigation of pistachio and walnut orchards in an arid environment. Enough of their wretched lies. Manure used as a fertilizer is not the same as a stinking fetid sewage pond at a pig farm where there are so many pigs in cages they have no room to move. Of course organic meats require more land. The animals aren't crammed into cages and stuffed full of antibiotics to prevent diseases from sweeping through flocks and herds. We are on to your disgusting chemical based factory farming and reject it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

proxy: yeah, I downvoted you. Cattle, with all that belching, and need for extra land which used to be forests - I highly doubt it's good for the environment. But, hey, all that $$$ feels great for those in the meat industry, I'm sure. The amount of government subsidies they get is ridiculous. An don't get me started on how animals are treated in factory farming - sure, cramming them into a small space saves land, right?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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