One of the great gifts I found in becoming vegan is the abundant amount of wholesome plant based nutrition and cuisine that is out there. Before becoming vegan my diet was pretty mundane and centred around meat and potatoes like much of North American and European food is.
But when I became vegan my palette opened up and I started enjoying and seeking out a multitude of ethnic foods. For example, I started really enjoying easy vegan Japanese food that I could make at home or buy inexpensively at Japanese restaurants or fast food places.
For example, as weird as it might sound, I never had sushi before I became vegan. The idea of eating raw fish is just gross, not to mention the health risks that are involved in eating raw anything and especially fish.
Anyway, as that second link above pointed out, eating vegan sushi is much healthier and less prone to contamination. A quick summary of that study that most of you are unlikely to read is that sushi with raw fish has 1 times to 3 times the allowable fecal contamination that the FDA sets. Avocado as well as vegan cucumber sushi had no fecal contamination.
But I’m digressing. I never ate sushi because the idea of eating raw fish sounded gross. Turns out I was right about that.
However, since becoming vegan there are certainly many easy vegan Japanese foods that you can enjoy that won’t give you the heebie jeebies.
I often start off a vegan Japanese meal with a nice steaming hot bowl of edamame sprinkled with coarse kosher salt.
You can find edamame frozen in the frozen veggies fridges at most better supermarkets. You just dunk the whole soybean pods into boiling water and boil for around 3 to 5 minutes. Strain them and grind or sprinkle coarse salt over them. This is a big slice of heaven!
When I’m feeling in the mood and I have the available calories for it I also like to enjoy a big pile of vegetable tempura. Vegan vegetable tempura is basically fried veggies dipped before frying in a batter. This is also very tasty with the sweet dipping sauce you’ll often get with the dish.
And then there is the sushi vegan style. My favourites are avocado sushi rolls as well as cucumber sushi rolls and mixed sushi rolls. Some restaurants are also making a whole bunch of different sushi rolls available for vegetarians and vegans. I’ve had radish as well as carrot sushi which is super yummy.
The key is to make yourself a nice thick paste out of the soy sauce and wasabi for dipping your sushi into. If you can’t stomach wasabi then you can just dip your vegetarian sushi rolls into a bit of soya sauce. That’s still pretty tasty.
Agadashi tofu and inari are also very tasty vegan tofu dishes that you can enjoy at most Japanese restaurants. Agadashi tofu is deep fried firm silken tofu served in a broth that is usually vegan though you might want to check on that at your Japanese restaurant and then topped with chopped spring onions and/or bonito flakes. Be sure to ask them to hold the bonito flakes if they do that, as bonito is dried, fermented and smoked tuna.
Inari is a fried pouch of tofu skin filled with rice. Very delicious.
If you’re still hungry or you’re looking for something a little different, then please try miso soup. Miso soup is an exceptionally easy Japanese vegan food that usually just contains a broth made form miso paste which is a fermented soybean paste as well as chopped spring onions a bit of diced tofu and some wakame (seaweed).
Nevertheless, because the Japanese culture is so fish-centric in diet – they do live on an island after all – you’ll sometimes find that miso soup is also made with the help of fish stock so please enquire about that.
That’s pretty much the bulk of Japanese vegan cooking that vegans can enjoy. Of course Japanese vegetable stir fries can be found at most Japanese restaurants and especially Japanese fast food joints.
As an aside, sushi can be had vegan as the meaning of sushi really encompasses any dish made with vinegared riced. Sashimi on the other hand is never vegan. Sashimi is basically raw meat by itself without obvious pairings, most commonly in Japanese cuisine this raw meat is fish. Steak tartare most of you might be more familiar with which is raw minced beef, horse or steak.
The barbarism of humanity continues to astonish me :(. Stay with the vegan sushi and you’ll be better off long term and so will the animals.