info for vegetarians
| February, 2001 |
Tokyo Vegetarian-friendly
Restaurant Guide
Diary - Living in Tokyo
as a Semi-Vegan
Recommended Readings
Written in Japanese
Articles about Vegetarianism
written by Hiroko Kato
Online Vegetarian/Vegan Handouts
Shopping Guide
Good News & Good News
Links for Vegetarians
August: Healthy vegan snack, vegan peach cobbler, stray cats, and so on.
September: Vegan pizza and brownie as well as experiences at several vegan restaurants.
October: New soymilk product and vegan ramen noodle, and so on.
November: Stories about the meeting with Japan Vegetarian Society chairpersons, vegan wedding meal, and experiences in Kyoto and Vietnam.
December: Attended Japan Vegetarian Society's meeting, delicious vegetarian food in YOKOHAMA China town, wasting time and money on staling foods, and trip to Penang.
January: Experimenting some vegan breakfast recipes, receiving an e-mal from the reader, pondering bug's life, and so on
February: Tried a macrobiotic restaurant in Tokyo, and the trip to Laos.
March: Struggling to get a vegan flihgt meals at Malaysian Airline.
April: Having vegan wedding plates again, business trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, and busy days.
May: Nayonnaise discovery and some food disasters.
June: Life is going on.
February: Attended a meeting on refugee issues in Japan held by Amnesty International Japan
March: Fresh soy milk and fasionable fake leather sneakers, etc.
April A conversation with my husband over a TV show and "Meatarians vs. vegetarians."
May A trip to the U.S. for research. Had an opportunity to attend a fantastic vegan wedding of my friend's.
July A thought on eating whale meat.


A cousin of my husband will have a wedding party in April. I worried that I should get meat meals there; I hate to waste foods by leaving meat on the plate. However, the restaurant he'll use is the one that served fantastic vegan meals to me at my friends' wedding party in November. Thank God!

I met a Dutch woman who is married with an American guy. Her husband has two daughters and they are vegetarians. He himself never understands their eating habits since he works for a meat product company. Such a conflict there exists!

I dined at a macrobiotic restaurant with my friends who are not vegetarians. But they were the people who chose that one instead of a sushi restaurant I offered as an option. We ate "fresh spring roll with vegetables and tempeh served with peanut sauce,""warm vegetable salad with walnut dressing,""seitan and vegetable stew with brown rice,""croquettes staffed with millet and okara," and "brown rice risotto with tomato and chickpea." After those meals, my friends had grain coffee and I ordered UME extract in the hot twig tea. I explained them that the idea of macrobiotic shun eggs and dairy besides meat so they got curious how the cakes there tasted like. We tried blueberry and apple cake but my friends didn't like it at all, saying that it was like bread rather cake. The problem must came from the lack of fluffy texture and sweetness (macrobiotics don't use refined sugar neither). Speaking of other dishes, they enjoyed experiencing new tastes. Overall, however, the verdict was like this: With the first bite, it doesn't taste great but we gonna be accustomed to think macrobiotics delicious, maybe someday. Well, I should admit I agree with them.

The interesting thing for me about that restaurant was not the meal. I found the staff working there were all male, rarely be seen in other natural restaurants. They looked normal, being different from skinny, pushy macrobiotic people I have ever seen. I'm curious where they came from.

02/23/2001 - 03/04/2001
A business trip to Laos to make travel pages for a Japanese magazine.

In my research on the Net beforehand, I found that there were a lot of vegetarian restaurants in that country but another online source denied the information. So I had no idea if I could keep vegetarian there. Since Lao people are, though they are under the communist government, very religious Buddhist, I thought I had a chance anyway. This time, we were three-people-team: the photographer, the coordinator, and I, and as always, I was the only vegetarian. To enter Laos, we should transited the flight at Bangkok and stayed there one night. The flight meal I requested was great, something tofu-like dishes and rice with a lot of veggie and fresh fruits; in Bangkok, there were always vegetarian options in the menu. So what about Laos?

I just shouldn't have worry. I had my first meal in Laos at a Lao cuisine restaurant in Vientiane, the capital of the country. And they had a vegetarian section! I was able to enjoy vegetarian noodle soup and steamed sticky rice.

After doing photo shooting for several hours in Vientiane, we left for Luang Prabang, the World Heritage of UNESCO. Again there, I got to be busy to take a note of restaurants and cafes that served vegetarian meals. I should say that vegetarians could find places to eat much easier in Luang Prabang than in Tokyo! Opposite to my expectation, the reason why Laos is so vegetarian-friendly must be European tourists. Actually, on the main streets, I saw more foreign tourists than local people. Listening their languages (mainly French), sometimes I felt like I was in somewhere in Europe, not in Asia.

Lao cuisine itself is very simple. People would say it is less defined compared to Thai or Vietnamese. The taste is not spicy or hot. Their staple food is steamed sticky rice and usually a couple of dishes like plain stir-fried vegetables with just a little bit meat/fish/chicken are served. It looked like that it was difficult to find any vegetarian ideas in original Lao local foods. They use some meat (whatever) in their dishes though the main ingredients are definitely vegetables.

Still, Luang Prabang has quite a unique cuisine. People there often eat steamed red rice instead of white one. There are some special products such as dried riverweed (very similar taste to NORI seaweed) and the paste made of miso, local herbs, and meat. Chewy rice noodle was also a delight. There was even a soup with wood!

I don't know if everyone likes their foods but one certain thing is vegetable in Luang Prabang is just GREAT. They are grown in the banks of Mekong River that flows along the town, and thanks to the floods giving a lot of nutrition to the soil, farmers never need to use chemical fertilizer to produce their products. Therefore, even the simplest green salad tastes marvelous and made me happy to be a vegetarian.

At the market, you'll find those fabulous vegetables as well as fruits. Though you possibly see many disgusting selling of a variety of meat including mice, lizards, and insects. But judging from the companionship of people and dogs there, I'm sure they don't eat dogs, at least.

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Copyright (C) 2002 Hiroko Kato, Tomoko Kinukawa(designer).All rights reserved.