Food revolution as Japan embraces vegan and vegetarian lifestyles

20 December 2019 (Last Updated January 10th, 2020 15:00)

Food revolution as Japan embraces vegan and vegetarian lifestyles

In 2020, Japan is expected to welcome more foreign tourists than ever before. According to Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO,) over 29 million tourists visited by the end of November 2019.

However, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics are likely to receive over 34 million tourists from across the world.

Japan is an attractive country to visit, offering a unique culture combining old and new. Food is also one of the attractions.

However, Japan is a notoriously difficult country for people who are on specific diets, particularly vegans and vegetarians.

The country is relatively lacking in vegan and vegetarian food labelling, and many of food service outlets do not have a menu to cater for these groups. Indeed, consumers in Japan following these diets are rare.

According to GlobalData’s 2019 Q4 global consumer survey, only 1% of people in Japan say they are vegetarian and 0% are vegan. However, the population of vegans has been increasing outside of Japan. On the same survey, now 2% of global consumers are vegans, and some countries, including the US (5%), have a continuous rise in the number of vegans.

vegan and vegetarian tourism could be a huge opportunity

Many businesses in Japan have noticed that vegan and vegetarian tourism could be a huge opportunity for them. Because of this, the development vegan products, retailers and food services has been implemented at the fast pace.

A key development includes product labelling. Products certified by such as Vege Project Japan or The Vegan Society of UK have been increasing.

For example, selected Seven Eleven convenience stores in the Tokyo area sell ready meals certified as vegan-friendly by Vege Project Japan. On the non-food side, one of major cosmetics company Kose announced that it will reinforce the marketing of its vegan cosmetic brand Awake with new products.

These ‘exposures’ may help the recognition as well as the understanding of veganism among consumers in Japan.

Veganism has been trending in Western markets for several years now, but in 2020, it may finally reach the Far East.