Vegan terminology and animal ingredients in Japanese

This page is meant to help you search for vegan food and look through the menus in restaurants. We have included spelling in romaji so you can also try asking the Japanese staff about the ingredients.

The word for vegan is the same as in English and it is spelled ビーガン orヴィーガン in Japanese. However, please note that since vegan diet is very uncommon in Japan, Japanese people might not understand what you mean by this word. It would be better to explain your diet by telling what you can and what you cannot eat. For this, please refer to the list below and scroll down for some helpful Japanese phrases.

Please note that you can also us to figure out whether something is vegan. Click here for details.

Animal ingredients commonly found “hidden” in food

Some dishes might seem like they’re vegan at the first glance but they in fact are not. Below you can find some ingredients that are often “hidden” in Japanese food. Pay extra attention to these words – you will probably see them a lot!

鰹節, かつお節 (katsuobushi) = dried bonito flakes

だし, 出汁 (dashi, dashijiru) = stock, broth *may or may not be vegan depending on the ingredients*

ゼラチン (zerachin) = gelatin

粉乳 (funnyuu) = powdered milk

Katsuobushi is used as an ingredient for dashi stock which can be found in a wide variety of food, including soups, dressings and even in sautéed vegetables. Please note that dashi can be vegan as well – you should definitely not skip it altogether! For example, konbu dashi (昆布だし) is made of dried kelp and it is completely vegan.

Powdered milk is often included in canned or bottled coffee and it’s also added in many powdered tea or coffee based products. Even if the can says “black coffee”, always make sure to check the ingredients list. Milk may also be listed as 牛乳 (gyuunyuu) or ミルク (miruku).

You should also note that although some noodles are vegan, noodles might sometimes have egg included in the dough. This also goes for bread: as you might now, bread often has egg or butter included so make sure to always check the ingredients.

Animal ingredients in Japanese

Meat:

肉 (にく, niku) = meat
牛 (ぎゅう, gyuu), 牛肉 (gyuuniku) = beef
鳥 (とり, tori), 鶏肉 (とりにく, toriniku) = chicken
豚 (ぶた, buta), 豚肉 (butaniku) = pork
羊 (ひつじ, hitsuji), ラム肉 (らむにく, ramuniku) = lamb
ステーキ (suteeki) = steak
ソーセージ (sooseeji) = sausage
鶏ガラ (torigara) = chicken stock
豚骨 (tonkotsu) = pork bone
ハム (hamu) = ham

Seafood:

魚 (sakana) = fish
魚介 (gyokai) = seafood
サーモン (saamon) = salmon
海老、えび、エビ (ebi) = shrimp
鰯、イワシ (iwashi) = sardine
鯖、サバ (saba) = Pacific mackerel
イカ (ika) = squid
ツナ, マグロ (tsuna, maguro) = tuna
いくら、イクラ (ikura) = salmon roe
牡蠣 (kaki) = oyster
クラゲ (kurage) = jellyfish
フカヒレ (fukahire) = shark fin
蟹、かに (kani) = crab
タコ (tako) = octopus
カニカマ、蟹カマ (kanikama) = crab stick, seafood stick
ちくわ、竹輪 (chikuwa) = “bamboo ring”, jelly-like seasoned white fish paste
かまぼこ、蒲鉾 (kamaboko) = surimi, fish cake

Dairy:

乳製品 (nyuuseihin) = dairy
牛乳 (ぎゅうにゅう, gyuunyuu), ミルク (miruku) = milk
生クリーム (namakuriimu) = cream
チーズ (chiizu) = cheese
ラード (raado) = lard
バター (bataa) = butter

Other:

卵, 玉子 (たまご, tamago) = egg
蜂蜜 (はちみつ, hachimitsu) = honey
ゼラチン (zerachin) = gelatin
動物由来 (doubutsuyurai) = of animal origin

Vegan terminology and ingredients in Japanese

If you wish to have your order modified in a restaurant or wish to explain your diet to someone, you should know some words for what you can eat. The list below should help in this.

植物由来 (shokubutsuyurai) = plant-based, of plant origin
野菜 (yasai) = vegetables
果物 (kudamono) = fruit
豆腐 (toufu) = tofu
キノコ, きのこ (kinoko) = mushrooms
豆 (mame) = beans
ナッツ (nattsu) = nuts
種 (tane) = seeds
豆乳 (tounyuu) = soy milk
ココナッツミルク (kokonattsumiruku) = coconut milk
アーモンドミルク (aamondomiruku) = almond milk
寒天 (kanten) = kanten (seaweed-based alternative to gelatin)
アガー (agaa) = agar agar

Helpful phrases for vegans in Japan

ビーガンです。 (biigan desu) = “I am vegan.”

肉、魚介、乳製品、卵を食べません。 (niku, gyokai, nyuuseihin, tamago wo tabemasen) = “I don’t eat meat, seafood, dairy or egg.”

動物性食品のものを食べません。 (doubutsu sei shokuhin no mono wo tabemasen) = “I don’t eat anything of animal origin.”

これをX抜きで注文できますか。 (kore o X nuki de chuumon dekimasuka) = “Can I have this without X?”

これはXが入っていますか。 (kore wa X ga haitteimasuka) = “Does this have X in it?”

牛乳を豆乳に変えてください。 (gyuunyuu o tounyuu ni kaete kudasai) = “Please use soy milk instead of milk.”

How useful is the allergen information on the products?

The food sold in stores often has a list of allergens used in the product. This information is sometimes shown as a graph with photos so it’s easy to understand even if you don’t know Japanese. However, these graphs show all products that might be in the product – if they for example, pack dairy products in the same factory as a salad, the allergy information usually has dairy checked even if the product is otherwise vegan since it might have traces of dairy. If you are extremely strict about your diet or have allergies, you should also look at the allergy information but otherwise we would suggest you to mostly rely on the list of ingredients.

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