Grocery shopping in Tokyo for vegans could be hard, especially when you are looking for vegan products other than veggies and tofu.
In this guide, I’m going to show you how to find vegan products in Japan convenience stores and supermarkets. And some vegan-friendly stores where you can buy hard-to-find items like vegan cheese and ice cream.
By the way, I’ve also written a handy guide for reading Japanese ingredients so you can explore the shops and find vegan items by yourself.
Convenience stores are EVERYWHERE in Tokyo. Basically there is one every other block. The 3 main convenience stores you can find in Tokyo are Family Mart, Lawson and 7-11.
Sometimes if you are in an area where there is no vegan food, convenience stores are a good place to get a simple meal. Almost all of them stock some types of vegan products.
There are quite a lot of things to be careful about in convenience stores, as a lot of the items that look vegan are not actually vegan. So read the ingredients carefully.
Sushi is a staple in Japanese convenience stores. Some of the sushi, like inari (wrapped in tofu skin) and some onigiri (sushi usually triangular and wrapped in seaweed), look vegan from the list of ingredients. However, some of them are confirmed to be flavored by fish stock or fish powder. This is because Japanese laws don’t require the manufacturers to list those ingredients if the amount used is small enough. This could be quite a headache for vegans.
In general, the salt and plum onigiri are most likely to be vegan, but the kombu onigiri and inari sushi are usually not.
Some safer options include:
For the * items, be extra careful about the ingredients and check the guide from Is It Vegan Japan?
Out of all the convenience stores, Natural Lawson is the most vegan-friendly. It is under the same company as Lawson, which is another big convenience store chain in Tokyo.
Natural Lawson is more targeted towards health conscious customers. And they have quite a lot of imported items like vegan chocolate and plant milk. The downside is that Natural Lawson is not everywhere. But worry not, If you are in Tokyo, they can be found in all major areas, including Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ginza.
Here are some vegan finds in Natural Lawson:
Other than Natural Lawson, the other main convenience stores (Lawson, Family Mart and 7-11) are pretty similar in terms of how much vegan stuff they have.
If there's a Natural Lawson in the area, that will be your best option.
In general, supermarkets in Japan are not particularly vegan-friendly, especially if you are looking for vegan meat or dairy substitutes. But there are some accidentally vegan products, and tons of delicious fruits and veggies to choose from.
For veggies and fruits lovers, you are in for a treat. Japan is famous for growing some of the world’s best quality produce. Usually they demand a high price when exported to other countries, but in Japan locally, they are reasonably priced.
I especially love strawberries, apples and cherry tomatoes. Super sweet and makes a great snack after a day of exploring.
Other than those, it’s easy to find juice and soy milk in most supermarkets. Be careful as some of them may have milk. Check the ingredients carefully.
For other products, you will need to read the ingredients carefully. A lot of them have animal products. For example, some plain-looking potato chips have chicken powder in them.
Here are some of my favourite things to buy in Japan supermarkets (sometimes they can also be found in convenience stores as well):
Don’t let the first two parts scare you. If you are in Tokyo, there are quite a few vegan-friendly grocery stores. From vegan cheese to meat-substitutes, you will be happy to see the amount of vegan products you can find.
Keep in mind that a lot of the vegan products are imported, and they will be more expensive in general. Another thing to note is that although these shops are more vegan friendly, many of them still sell meat.
Ohsawa is a very vegan-friendly shop in Tokyo. Ice cream, cookies and sauces are just a few of the things you can find here. They have two shops, one near Shinjuku and another one stop away from Shibuya. Last time I was there, they also carried the vegan cheese from Choice Cafe in Kyoto.
With multiple locations in Tokyo, Natural House is a grocery store selling fresh fruits and some vegan friendly products. Some of the products are also organic.
Other than groceries, you can also find some lunch boxes or sandwiches that are vegan (of course, check the labels carefully).
I was quite pleasantly surprised when I visited Bonraspail. The vegan selection is quite extensive. It has lots of vegan sauces, noodles, chocolate, biscuits, and more. Also, you can find vegan cheese and vegan margarine which are difficult to come across in Japan.
First all-vegan grocery/convenience store in Japan. The ground floor sells vegan snacks, groceries, frozen food and more. The upper level is a restaurant serving dishes like curry rice and pasta. You can also buy vegan soft serve ice cream here.
This vegan-friendly shop in Hiro-o has vegan items that are marked clearly with a little green label. They sell a good mix of local and imported stuff. You can also find some organic vegetables here.
Also in Hiro-o, this supermarket has quite a selection of imported vegan products like cheese and cream. Next to it is a vegan cafe which serves salad bowls and other comfort food!
Originally from Paris, this grocery shop chain has some unique vegan offerings like chocolate waffle or even vegan cleaning products. Most of the vegan products I find here are imported.
This shop near Akihabara sells mostly Japanese food. The price is on the higher-side. There is also a vegan cafe inside called Komaki Syokudo. It serves some simple Japanese sets and desserts. However, the time may not be reliable. I arrived at about 5-6pm and they were already closing (they list 7:30pm as the closing time).