Introduction to JAPANice Vegetarian Cuisine

Japanese Vegetarian CuisineJapanese cuisine is not highly popular to the healthy lifestyle of vegetarians/vegan despite its healthful, delicious and beautiful features.

Americans don’t know the Japanese cuisine very well probably due to the lack of communication. It’s also an added fact that Japanese restaurants in the US don’t know vegetarianism as well.

You’ll be surprised though with the unique characters and key health properties of some of the vegetarian items found in Japanese dishes.

Green and Leafy from the Sea

Dulse – [Latin Name: Palmaria palmate] (Palmariacea)

Red edible seaweed that is useful in treating an underactive thyroid. This is normally used in a seaweed salad. Dulse contains vitamins from A to E and also rich in calcium, chromium, iodine, potassium, protein among others.

Nori – [Latin Name: Porphyra] (Bangiaceae)

Nori is an edible preparation of dried pressed seaweed available in red and green pigment that helps fight cancer, treat ulcers and reduce cholesterol level. This seaweed contains polysaccaraide Galactan along with taurine; often used to wrap rice and ingredients in sushi rolls.

Wakame – [Latin Name: Undaria pinnatifida] (Alariaceae)

Wakame is seaweed available in both brown and green varieties, and considered as an invasive week in New Zealand and California but is native to the coasts of Japan. It is a carrier of a pigment known to boost the metabolism called antioxidant fucoxanthin. Those who are conscious with their body weight should start munching on dishes rich with these ingredients.

Soybean Products

Soy – [Latin Name: Glycine max] (Fabaceae)

Soy has a lot to offer including boosts the immune system; helps treat diabetes, improves kidney function and promotes healthy vision and strong cardiovascular health.

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There have been several misconceptions about soy and here are few important factors to consider.

  1. Soybeans should be organically grown
  2. Soybeans should be locally grown if possible. Identify companies who are willing to reveal their actual sources of soybeans and are willing to present proof of certification.
  3. Soybeans should be fermented. What most men are unaware of is the fact that unfermented soy (e.g., soy milk and tofu) contains higher levels of estrogen-mimicking chemicals that may induce manifestations of female traits in men, while for women may cause breast cancer.

Tamari (Soy Sauce)

This famous concentrated flavoring has been used in China for about 3000 years, made by fermenting soybeans. Tamari contains antioxidants along with vitamin B6, iron, phosphorus, protein and amino tryptophan. Soy sauce is best refrigerated after opening.


Tempeh is a fermented soy beans popular as a health food. It has a crucial role of aiding digestion and boosts the immune system. Also, it contains antioxidants, isflavones, saponins, fiber, proten and every required amino acid.


Miso is a fermented soy bean paste used mainly in vegetarian cooking. It is one abundant ingredient packed with beneficial components for the health of a person. Miso is a must for those building a storable food supply; a few ounces of miso paste is enough to make several gallons of soup.

Seasonings of Health

Wasabi – [Latin Name: Wasabia japonica] (Cruciferae)

Wasabi is a rare Japanese condiment that contains antioxidants called isothiocynates. It stimulates digestion, detoxifies the liver, and fights prostate cancer. Most restaurants do not serve real wasabi because it is expensive.

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Ginger (Pickled) – [Latin Name: Zingiber officinale] (Zingiberaceae)

Ginger helps fight cancer of the ovaries and colon, having anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This condiment is rich in vitamin B6, copper, mangnesium, manganese and postassium.


Tekka is a not very popular condiment that has the look and feel of chewing tobacco and the flavor of soy sauce. It is the perfect companion for rice due to its intense concentration. It is a great source of iron which helps sooth stomach and colon inflammation.

Now that you have been introduced to Japanese cuisine, prepare for the real Japanese dining experience and start practicing with the chopsticks because you are sure to enjoy the dishes as much as you’ll enjoy the display on your plates.

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