The Japanese diet is heralded as one of the healthiest in the world. It’s delicate, light, nutritious, clean, and beautiful! Plant-based Japanese food is gaining in popularity and we’re here to hook you up with only the finest. Read on to find out more about the best vegan Japanese food!

What is vegan Japanese food?

Vegan Japanese food is just that - Japanese food that’s vegan! Vegan Japanese food might be traditional Japanese dishes that are already vegan. It could mean Japanese dishes that are adapted to be vegan. Or, it might refer to dishes that have been inspired by the many flavors of Japanese cuisine but are not strictly Japanese recipes.
Vegan Japanese food contains no animal-derived products and makes no compromise on taste. Many staple ingredients used in Japan - such as tofu - are already vegan. Classics such as sushi are easy to adapt to a plant-based diet. At PlantX, we want to make vegan Japanese food as easy to make as possible. We want to inspire you to explore the wonderful umami tones of Japanese food right from your very own kitchen.

Japanese food incorporates many mouth-watering condiments and sauces that are wonderful ingredients to have on hand to make quick and tasty plant-based Japanese food. Soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar… the list is long and delicious! The best vegan Japanese food starts at PlantX. We have thoughtfully curated a selection of high-quality, plant-based, nutrient-rich, and ethically made ingredients to expand your culinary horizons.

Now there’s no excuse not to make gourmet-level vegan Japanese food any day of the week!

Best ingredients for vegan Japanese food

Japanese vegan food is a vast horizon of salty, sweet, umami, and sour. There are several key ingredients you can keep in your pantry or cupboard for when a craving strikes. Let’s take a look at a few plant-based Japanese food essentials…

  • Soy sauce. Not just for vegan Japanese food, this is a Southeast Asian staple. The uses are endless. Trust us, you’ll want to keep a bottle of this in the house at all times. There are some great alternatives too, such as Tamari and coconut aminos.

  • Tofu. The vegan Japanese chef cannot live without tofu. It comes in so many different forms and is an incredibly versatile ingredient. Another awesome soybean product is natto. Natto is fermented soybeans with a powerful taste and is traditionally eaten at breakfast time.
  • Rice. As the base of many meals, rice is essential for making Japanese vegan food. Try some sticky sushi rice for making vegan sushi, onigiri, and other kinds of rice-based snacks.
  • Seaweed. Dried seaweed is a great product to keep in the cupboard. Use large sheets of nori to wrap around rice balls. Use furikake rice seasoning to sprinkle over simple bowls of fluffy white rice. Enjoy smaller sheets of nori as a low-calorie snack.

    Is vegan Japanese food healthy?

    Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. That must be saying something, right? Overall, a Japanese diet tends to be low in calories and saturated fat, and high in nutrients such as flavonoids. Japanese food incorporates a high quantity of vegetables, even at breakfast. This means that it’s nutrient-dense and easy to create authentic Japanese vegan food.

    Vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and broccoli are popular and full of vitamins and fiber. Seaweed and green tea are great sources of antioxidants, which can support your overall health. Little highly processed food is consumed and, in general, Japanese food has a low level of sugar. Vegan Japanese food is even better because you avoid fatty meat, and consume even more nourishing veggies and plant-based proteins.

    In Japan, there is a saying - ‘Hara hachi bu’ - which means you eat until you are 80% full. Basically, it's culturally ingrained to avoid overeating. A Japanese meal is often served across numerous small bowls. This means you eat smaller portions and a variety of different foods. You might have a small amount of rice, a miso soup, a piece of tofu, and some pickled vegetables. Eating in this way promotes a balanced diet with a full array of nutrients.

Try easy vegan Japanese recipes

  • Give our recipe for Cauliflower Fish Wings a Japanese makeover by making a glaze of teriyaki sauce to coat it with after baking. Alternatively, make some wasabi mayo to dip them in using this awesome wasabi powder combined with vegan mayo.
  • Dress up a salad with a Japanese-inspired dressing. First, make our fresh and healthy Buddha bowl. In a small bowl combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and plenty of sesame seeds. Stir to combine then drizzle it over your salad and enjoy!
  • Soba Noodles or Udon Noodles are central to Japanese cuisine. Yakisoba and yaki udon are popular noodle dishes that are super easy to make. Make vegan Japanese noodles by stir-frying lots of fresh and crunchy veg. Cook your noodles according to the instructions on the package, then add to your pan and fry for a couple of minutes more. Finally, toss everything in a mixture of soy sauce, ketchup, and Worcester sauce!
  • Try making a tofu katsu curry! Coat large slices of tofu in a batter of soy milk, flour, cornstarch, salt, and paprika before rolling them in a layer of panko breadcrumbs. Fry the tofu slices in a pan with oil until crispy and golden (around 5 minutes on each side). Serve with Japanese curry sauce and a mound of steamed rice.

Top vegan Japanese brands to try

  • Lotus Foods - Ramen - Jade Pearl Rice Miso
    This convenient instant ramen is ready in only 4 minutes. The noodles are made with a combination of specialty rice, and the white miso brings a clean and umami flavor. It features wakame and parsley for extra flavor.

  • Sushi Sonic - 100% Real Wasabi Powder
    This awesome powder is 100% real wasabi. To use it, simply combine 2 teaspoons of powder with 2 teaspoons of water, and stir to form a paste. Don’t stop there - add some Japanese heat to salad dressings, sauces, dips, and vegan mayo! Eat it with some vegan sushi for a classic combo.

  • Kikusui - Junmai Ginjo Sake
    Sake wine is an essential addition to Japanese cooking. This fragrant and fruity sake is best served chilled (around 40-60°F). It’s an award-winning medium-dry sake, with aromas of melon, followed by juicy flavors of mandarin.

  • Muso From Japan - Organic Sprinkling Furikake Seasonings
    Furikake is a dry seasoning that is used in Japan to flavor rice and vegetables. It’s generally a mixture of sesame seeds, seaweed, herbs, and spices. Muso From Japan make their vegan furikake in 3 varieties: Umeboshi, Seaweed, and Yuzu. Each has its own special combo of nourishing plant-based ingredients and will take your vegan Japanese food to the next level!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Japanese food spicy?

Japanese food is not often thought of as spicy, but aspects of it can be. Wasabi has a heat to it that is similar to mustard. It packs a spicy and pungent punch. Sansho is a Japanese pepper that can be used to turn up the heat. It’s similar to Sichuan pepper and delivers notes of citrus and a tingling sensation to the tongue. However, the majority of Japanese cuisine is more delicate and aromatic than spicy. When it comes to vegan Japanese food, it’s up to you. You can leave it umami and mild, or crank up the heat with some chili oil or gochujang paste!

What Japanese food is gluten-free?

Plenty of Japanese food is gluten-free but there are a few ingredients you’ll want to avoid if you can’t eat gluten. The majority of soy sauce is made with wheat but we are here to save you with our equally-delicious range of gluten-free soy sauce! Rice and rice products such as rice noodles and rice flour are usually gluten-free. Soba noodles are gluten-free as long as the buckwheat flour has not been combined with wheat. Miso is not always gluten-free so be sure to check the ingredients first. If in doubt about whether an ingredient you’re using to make Japanese vegan food is gluten-free, read the information on the product’s page or packaging.

Do you use all-purpose flour in Japanese food?

Japanese food uses different types of flour for different purposes but the most commonly used flour is bread flour. Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour so gives a better texture to foods such as noodles. Cake flour is also used to make Japanese cakes and biscuits. This has a lower protein content so the result is very soft and fluffy. Rice flour is also popular, and the perfect choice if you are on a gluten-free diet. Rice flour is popular for making sweets and noodles. Plant-based Japanese food can incorporate different types of flour.

What does Japanese food taste like?

It’s hard to summarize the taste of Japanese food, but in general, it has delicate flavors. Japanese cuisine incorporates a wide variety of ingredients, dishes, and styles of cooking. “Umami” is one of the major flavor profiles found in Japanese cooking and refers to a savory depth and earthiness. Umami roughly translates as “savory deliciousness”. Many key ingredients such as dashi, soy sauce, and miso have a strong umami flavor. Vegan Japanese food doesn’t exclude this either - even shiitake mushrooms will bring a special umami flavor! Don’t be afraid of experimenting with vegan Japanese food and finding your own groove.