As a vegan, traveling and eating abroad can be challenging... to say the very least. Especially in Osaka, where incredible food is so abundant and yet it can be so hard to find clear and accessible vegan options. So how do you avoid playing that impossible guessing game of “Is it Vegan?”. Especially if you’re going to have to play it in Japanese...
This guide is dedicated to helping you find not just any old Osaka vegan cafe, but cafes that have food that lives up to it’s non-vegan counterparts. In other words, you’re going to be full, happy and not missing out! I believe any person, regardless of dietary restrictions, deserves to indulge in Osaka’s decadent food scene. As I said earlier, you don’t want to miss out on Osaka’s food, and now with these Vegan options you won’t have to.
VEGAN CULTURE IN JAPAN
A Vegan diet, in a nutshell, doesn’t include any animal food products. This most notably means the elimination of meat and dairy products from the diet. With most of Japan’s famous foods consisting of meat or seafood, it is understandable why eating vegan in Japan sounds difficult.
Vegan culture, however, does exist in Japan. Statistics show that about 1.3 million people in Japan are vegan (2018). Also, the diet of Buddhist monks (Shojin Ryori) is naturally vegan. A "Vege Council" was established in 2019 to help promote and popularize Veganism in Japan. They also aim to expand certified vegan products and create clear product labelling.
Many Japanese vegans cite health as a main reason for their dietary choices. Similar to a vegan diet, though not the same, is the Macrobiotic diet which is quite popular too. As well as health reasons, ecological and animal cruelty reasons for adopting the diet are also common.
PAPRIKA SHOKUDO VEGAN
Paprika Shokudo Vegan takes the number 1 spot on this guide due to the fact that it is 100% vegan. You heard that right! This restaurant has a menu dedicated to only serving delicious vegan options. The ambience is warm and cheerful, nothing too fancy but expect great service and a clean, cozy vibe. To top it all of, the restaurant is quite foreigner friendly with an English menu available!
Paprika Shokudo Vegan boasts an eclectic mix of Japanese and Italian style cuisine. Choose between enjoying exciting vegan Japanese favorites as well as classic Italian pizza, risottos and pasta. Dinner can be made even easier with many set options. You won’t be disappointed with an abundance of appetizers, mains, drinks and even dessert!
What you will love about Paprika Shokudo’s menu is that it doesn’t scream “vegan restaurant” and there are tons of vegan versions of your favorites to choose from. For example, Paprika Shokudo offers a fully vegan Karaage (Japanese fried chicken), eel and Yakiniku donburi (Meat and rice bowl). This means you can still experience famous Japanese food despite not eating animal products! The only thing greater than good food is ease when dining and that is not always a given when you’re vegan. You won’t sweat it at all with this safe dining spot! Paprika Shokudo vegan is perfect for just treating yourself or for bringing the entire family!
Paprika Shokudo Vegan is open everyday from 11:30am to 2pm and 5:30pm to 9pm. They are located at 1-9-9 Shinmachi, Nishiku, Osaka 550-0013.
MAULOA ACAI & CAFE
Beat the heat! I truly can’t think of anything that tops a refreshing smoothie bowl on a hot Osaka day. Mauloa cafe spreads the Aloha spirit with their Hawaiian theme and you’ll forget just for a second that you’re in Osaka. Spice up your Japan vacation with a taste of the tropics by consuming these delicious, juicy fruit concoctions. Instagram foodies will be in heaven!
Mauloa offers 13 different beautiful bowls with either an acai, pitaya or green smoothie base. Smoothie bowls are an amazing way to fill up on wholesome fruits and vegetables while feeling like you’re eating a dessert. Bowls are also a surefire way of determining whether something is vegan. Most have few ingredients that are whole and plant based so non-vegan additions are easy to spot. Be mindful that honey is often used so clarify if ordering a premade bowl!
If you’ve had a smoothie bowl you’ll understand why they have taken the food world by storm. What’s great is the sheer popularity of acai bowls amongst vegans and non-vegans alike. This is an especially wonderful option if you’re traveling with friends and need to cater to all sorts of different diets!
Mauloa Acai & Cafe is located at 1-3-19, Oyodominami, Kita-ku Osaka Shi. Business hours are 11:30am to 7pm (Closed on Mondays).
MEGUMI VEGAN RESTAURANT
Rice dishes, ramen, gyoza! All the Japanese food favorites are right here at Megumi!
Megumi is another fantastic option if you’re craving comforting Japanese cuisine but want to stay true to your vegan lifestyle. This restaurant is fully also vegan! Once again, you’re absolutely guaranteed a stress free meal time. An English menu is available for use.
The overall atmosphere is casual Japanese dining with counter seating. Standout menu items are Vegan rice and “meat” plate meals, Brown Rice Ramen Noodles, Vegan gyoza and okonomiyaki pancakes. Try all the foods that Osaka is famous for! Megumi is great if you’re also traveling with a picky eater or child. The restaurant has a vegan pizza set, pasta set and various side dish assortments. End the fabulous night with plant based cake, parfait or ice cream!
Megumi restaurant has a commitment to the idea that “food is life” and using natural foods as much as possible. In addition to a vegan menu, you’ll find many organic, sugar free and gluten free options available. Finally, when you’re done eating, take a browse through the products they sell in house which range from functional supplements to health foods to miscellaneous goods. Their natural food store even has online products so no worries if you run out of a purchase or change your mind!
Megumi is located at 2-8 Yorikimachi, Kita Ward, Osaka, 530-0036. Business hours are 5-10pm. Closed on Sunday and Monday. Reservations are required for lunch so make sure you call ahead!
Green Earth was established back in 1991 and offered Osaka’s first fully vegetarian restaurant! In 2019, Green Earth committed to making their menu 100% vegan! Like the name suggests, this eatery is wholesome and down to earth. Green decor, plants and even outdoor seating paired with delicious, fresh food is why Green Earth has become an Osaka favorite for vegetarians and vegans alike. An English menu is readily accessible for easy ordering!
The menu is both Japanese and Western in style. Freshly baked bread, decadent sandwiches, creamy pastas and beautiful, hearty salads are just a few highlights. If you’re craving a more Japanese taste go for the amazing Gokun-nuki Curry. Finish off your delicious meal with a dessert choice from an array of sweet cakes, pies, puddings and ice cream. Convince everyone in your group to get something different so you get a bite of everything! Menu items are highly customizable too since all of the food made in house is so fresh!
My favorite aspect of Green Earth has to be their bakery! Baked vegan confectionary is made daily and the list of cakes, scones and cookies available is endless. Go buy some pumpkin muffins, matcha cakes and Kinako cookies! Make sure to get a little extra though - you’ll be addicted to these vegan treats!
Green Earth is located at 4-2-2 Kitakyuhojimachi, Chuo, Osaka 541-0057. Business hours are 11:30am to 4pm on Monday-Thursday and Saturday, 11:30am to 3pm on Friday and closed on Sundays.
ORIBIO CAFE DINING
Get ready to start planning your next meal at Oribio Cafe Dining! Oribio is the place for the ultimate Japanese tasting experience. This Osaka restaurant offers vegan versions of popular Japanese food that actually taste like their non-vegan counterparts. Nothing against typical plant based foods, but sometimes you just miss that original meat-based flavor!
Hands down the most unique item is the 10 piece vegetable sushi plate! This plate is so special, it requires a reservation (but it’s worth it, I promise!). A fancy all vegan sushi platter isn’t easy to find so if you’re a sushi lover, this one’s for you! Other mouth watering menu items include Honjitsu no ramen, Omurice, “Meat” skewers and Katsudon. On top of this, Oribio cafe even serves vegan burgers and pasta, so you’ve got non-Japanese food options as well.
What’s impressive about Oribio Cafe is their true dedication to the authentic flavor. Oribio cafe regularly serves many vegan customers but the menu itself is not 100% vegan. Milk and butter are occasionally used in some dishes. Meat and fish products are not used. The cafe is happy to swap vegan alternatives in for most of their dishes and every non vegan dish is clearly marked. Just make sure to clarify with the staff when ordering!
Oribio cafe is at 7-2 Aobaokakita, Suita, Osaka 5650801. 11am to 6pm are the business hours. Closed on Saturday and Sunday.
AJU KITCHEN BAR
Expect some delicious Osaka Okonomiyaki made vegan at Aju Kitchen Bar! Aju Kitchen Bar is a cozy, small eatery holding just 16 seats! The restaurant is easily accessible by train and offers an eclectic menu of many cuisines. English and Chinese menus with detailed pictures are available also.
If you’ve done your research, you know you simply cannot visit Osaka without trying this famous, delicious savory pancake known as Okonomiyaki. Aju Kitchen Bar is hands down one of the best places to experience Okonomiyaki if you’re a vegan! The taste is so similar, even those who eat meat won’t be able to tell the difference. The vegan yakitori, pizza and lasagna are all undeniably yummy options too! Additionally, the vegan desserts including soft ice cream, fudgy chocolate sauce and fluffy cake are a must try too!
It’s important to note that similar to some of the options above, Aju Kitchen Bar is not 100% vegan. However, the menu is clearly marked (even in English). You will be able to easily identify what is vegan and what to order. The great thing about this too is that it caters to both vegans and non-vegans! Perfect if you’re travelling with others and want to satisfy everyone’s cravings!
Aju Kitchen Bar is located at 1-10-14 Nakazaki, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0016. Lunch hours are 11:45am-4pm daily. Dinner is 5-9pm on Sunday, 5:30-9pm on Tuesday through Thursday and 5:30-10pm on Friday and Saturday. Aju Kitchen Bar is closed on Mondays.
NANAHAKO MACROBIOTIC SWEETS
Since dessert usually comes last, I’m ending this list with Nanahako Macrobiotic sweets! Of course, I’m in full support of eating dessert first… or even dessert only. Odds are you’ll want to dig in immediately after seeing these stunning vegan cakes!
Nanahako is a small sweet shop located within Musubi Garden health food store. Most of the cakes are clearly labelled as vegan even though the shop is not confirmed to be fully plant-based. Cakes are definitely the main attraction here but they’ve also got a selection of cookies and tarts. Nanahako even carries an array of raw vegan cakes!
Though the shop is very small, it’s absolutely worth your visit. A good, rich vegan cake goes far and this one will surely have you coming for more during your trip to Osaka!
Nanahako Macrobiotic Sweets is at 2 Chome-2-7 Otedori, Chuo-ku, Osaka 540-0021. The shop is inside Musubi Garden health food store. Open 10am-7pm Monday through Saturday and 10am-6pm on Sundays.
EATING VEGAN IN OSAKA
Just because you’re a vegan, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice eating delicious food on your trip to Osaka. It might sound difficult at first, given that Japanese food is known for its fish and meat content, but vegan options in Osaka do exist. Even better, vegan Japanese food options exist! These restaurants offer you the chance to go ahead and devour sushi, ramen and okonomiyaki with all your friends minus all the stress!
The vegan scene in Osaka and other parts of Japan is rapidly changing. There is a special little vegan community here that’s waiting for you!