A lot of people believe Japan is not the most friendly country for special diets (they’re not wrong, it’s not), with those following a vegetarian or vegan struggling the most to find options at restaurants and even street food hotspots. It’s especially hard for workers on the go who’d like to stop by for a light snack on their way to and from work.
Don’t worry, though; we got you! This article compiles a comprehensive list of things you can find at the convenience store before you get that whole meal you deserve. Most of these products are only vegetarian-friendly, though, sorry vegans!
Vegetarian Snacks At 7-Eleven
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Arguably the most famous convenience store outlet in Japan, 7-Eleven definitely has the most options over its counterparts in the country. While you may not exactly find the bento boxes that other people have (because they all have meat and/or seafood in them), there are other light snacks and/or ready-to-eat items you can have in between before you get to have your proper meal. Some of them are sufficient to replace your meal too!
Let’s start with the ready-to-eat items they have. The best (in my opinion) is the frozen margherita pizza – heat it up in the microwave, and you’re good to go! They also have slices of bread with onion, cheese and mayonnaise (which is one option), and corn and mayonnaise (which is another option).
They also have a few options for salads, like lettuce, radish and mixed vegetables all in one! Then you have packets of stir-fried veggies and cut-up vegetables in smaller containers (so this may not be entirely filling, it’s a snack at best). There are onigiri options as well! One is pickled plum, and the other is pickled radish.
Another option is for you to get some neapolitan sauce for pasta (which is tomato based), to go with your pasta. Some stores, do have a ready-to-eat neapolitan option as well. For vegetarians who eat eggs, you also have the option of soft-boiled eggs and egg salad sandwiches!
Now that the savouries are out of the way let’s talk about sweets because there are so many options to cover here for veggies! Starting with packets of Belgian waffles, banana tarts and pineapple cookies to taiyaki with custard cream, the list is surprisingly huge considering the lack of savoury options. You have frozen sugar cones and fruit ice bars, chocolate breadsticks, butter and chocolate flavoured croissants, donuts, strawberry and cream buns, pancakes, and Danish bread slices.
Other miscellaneous items include, an assortment of potato chips (in different flavours), flavoured yoghurt drinks, cut-up fruit in packets (like apple and pineapple), and salty rice crackers.
Vegetarian Snacks At Lawson
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Like 7-Eleven, Lawson also has its share of melon buns, cream buns, and puddings, but there are some unique options here as well. You have natto (fermented beans) sushi rolls, packed soba with okra, a pack of mushrooms and seaweed that’s ready-to-eat, roasted sesame flavoured root vegetable salad, and vegetable curry that’s also ready-to-eat.
You can also find french fries (although you have to fry them yourself which is honestly better because they’re not soggy), and – surprisingly – a handmade naan kit in some stores! However, this is just the dry, almost powder-like texture that you have to knead and roll yourself but making naan is a difficult process so you’re already almost there with this!
Moving on to the desserts section, you have options like apple pie, strawberry shortcake, tiramisu, milk and matcha puddings, chocolate buns, coffee jelly, crepes and macarons. As someone who has tried almost all these options out, they taste good as well!
In the miscellaneous category, there are salted potato sticks, choco-chip cookies, different flavours of tea (like Muscat tea, Earl Grey), and strawberry milk. You also have packed roasted pistachios, cashew nuts, macadamia nuts and rice crackers. Another option is pineapple and sugar beet biscuits.
Life As a Vegetarian in Japan – It’s a Struggle!
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The options available to vegetarians in Japan don’t come close to the options available to people who eat meat and/or seafood. This is why most vegetarians (myself included) take to cooking because it’s just easier.
However, there are times when we don’t have the time (or energy) to cook after a long day of work. Or maybe you’re a tourist who doesn’t have a kitchen and is looking for a light snack. That’s where the food at convenience stores comes in! Although there aren’t as many options for vegetarians, it’s just enough to help us get through the day before we get to have a proper meal.
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