I am a vegetarian and because of this I get asked many questions by lots of people, especially in Japan where being vegetarian is quite rare. So, I thought I would try to answer some of those questions here.
Can you drink milk or eat eggs?
As a vegetarian I can eat dairy products such as milk and cheese. I am also able to eat eggs. However, I don`t eat fish because I am quite a strict vegetarian and I think that fish is meat, but some vegetarians eat fish but not any other kind of meat. Vegans, however, only eat vegetables. They do not eat eggs or cheeses and also don`t drink milk. This would be a very hard lifestyle to maintain for me because I love cheese and chocolate!
Have you ever tried meat?
I have tried meat in the past but only on a couple of occasions. So, I have never had a steak before and I have also never had a meat burger or anything like that. However, I used to eat fish when I was younger but I stopped many years ago.
When did you become a vegetarian?
I have always been a vegetarian. Everyone in my family is a vegetarian as well. My mother eats fish, though, but apart from that everyone only eats vegetables. I think this probably put me on the vegetarian track and kept me motivated to stay on it.
Why did you become a vegetarian?
People have different reasons for becoming vegetarian. Some people do it for health reasons and some people, like me, do it for ethical reasons. I personally don`t like the idea of eating meat, mainly because I know what the meat used to be. I don`t like the idea of eating something that had to be killed to feed me. With this thought in mind, even if the smell of meat can be delicious I could never eat it. However, I have no problem with other people eating meat. I don`t want to force anyone to become vegetarian like me.
Being a vegetarian in England
Being vegetarian in England and also in many European countries has become easier and easier over the past few years as the number of vegetarians has increased. So, in restaurants there is always at least one vegetarian option on the menu and also in shops there is a whole line of products for vegetarians. There are products which taste like meat but are only made from vegetables. This means that being vegetarian in England has never really been a problem for me.
Being a vegetarian in Japan
Being vegetarian here in Japan is a lot more difficult. In Japan I often find that I can`t eat anything on the menu in most restaurants which can be very frustrating because it means I have to force my wife to walk around with me to find something I can eat. Even in the bakeries sometimes it can be difficult as a lot of things contain bacon. I also can`t eat miso soup or some of the other soups because they contain meat or fish stock.
There are ways around this problem, though. Most of the time I just have to ask for something without meat (yakisoba being a good option) and the waiters and waitresses always try to help me find something. Which is very nice! A lot of the time we try to find indian restaurants where the food is often vegetarian and I have a lot more options to choose from. We also cook a lot at home and I can control what goes into my food.
In Tokyo there is a vegetarian restaurant which I have visited a couple of times and the food is very very nice called T`s Tantan. There are also a couple of vegan restaurants in Osaka (not many, though) but they tend to be quite expensive, which is a shame.
I hope in the future I can find more vegetarian options in Japan because I would like to try more of Japanese cuisine. We`ll see, maybe being vegetarian will become popular in Japan too...you never know.