Japanese Label Reading Guide for Vegans

A typical Japan supermarket

Do you know there are 3 parts to a Japanese food label? And what are the common non-vegan ingredients you need to look out for?

Reading Japanese food label is not the easiest thing, especially if you don’t speak the language.

In this guide, I’m going to tell you the tips and tricks I use when I’m in Japan when reading the ingredient labels. So that I can explore supermarkets and stores to find delicious vegan treats.

EnglishPronunciationJapanese
Egg Tamago卵/玉子/たまご
MilkGyuunyuu牛乳/乳
BeefUshi/gyu-niku/biifu牛/牛肉/ビーフ
ChickenTori/tori-niku/chikin鶏/鶏肉/チキン
PorkButa/buta-niku/pooku豚/豚肉/ポーク
GelatinZerachinゼラチン
ShrimpEbi海老/エビ

Other than these basic ingredients, there are some not so obvious ones that you need to be careful about, including the many fish ingredients that are present in non-suspecting items.


I’ve made a guide that gives you all the tips and tricks for reading ingredient labels in Japan. I break it down into 3 smaller parts for easier understanding. Also, there are some more hidden non-vegan ingredients that you need to know so you don’t miss them.

Hopefully after reading this guide, you will be able to go in any store and explore their hidden vegan gems.

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p.s. Don’t worry, I won’t spam cause spam isn’t vegan.