Being Vegan in Okinawa – Where to Eat

I have bad news. This is my last post on “how to be vegan in Okinawa”. We are leaving this island in two weeks. I am sad to go, because I love it here so much. But I’m excited for what adventures lie ahead. Both for my life and for my blog. I will miss running around trying to find vegan food, taking a million pictures, and telling you guys (whoever you are, I know I have readers but I only have spoken to maybe 7 of you) all about the food I’ve found and the adventures I’ve had. This blog has become so much more than I planned on, and I’m so thankful for it.

So recently I posted about where I shop as a vegan in okinawa. Today I want to talk about where to eat. Is it possible to be vegan in Okinawa, Japan? Absolutely! It’s more than possible. Check out the Facebook group for vegans and vegetarians on island. There are places to shop for your own vegan food (read about it here) or you can grab some vegan grub in many places all over the island.

In the past few years in Okinawa many vegan/vegetarian places closed. Vegan junk deli casbah, warahondo, Heart of Earth, ital corner, Noah style, Salon Cuttho, Goocuru, Herb/Gilead, vegi cafe shanti, love vegi cafe, Granma’s vegan cafe, wine and veggie macro. I had the pleasure of trying out three of them and they were awesome places. I spoke to the owner of cafe sprout and she doesn’t understand why there has been so many closings of vegan/vegetarian places. Thankfully there are places you can still get your hands on some vegan grub. In fact, there’s tons of places! Some of them even I’ve never been to!

Keep in mind – Many of these places are not strictly vegan, but have vegan options. Never be afraid to go to an omnivorous restaurant and ask about vegan options.

Places I’ve been.

1. Dechibica.

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Obviously it’s my favorite place, I talk about it all of the time. They have curry, taco rice, seasonal vegan pho, bibimbap set, and vegan desserts. Read about it here.

2. Cafe Sprout.

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Seriously delicious vegan food in Ginowan. Veggie plates, curry plates, veggie burgers, and vegan desserts including ice cream. The owner is awesome and loves to talk to customers, and has the coolest adopted cat I’ve ever met. Read about it here.

3. Bakery and cafe coo.

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I haven’t shared this one with my friends yet because I wanted to take them with me to check it out, but I’m down to my last few weeks on the island so I don’t know if I’ll have time. So I’m posting the info and hoping you all will check it out, because this place is fabulous! They have a wide variety of vegan baked goods for sale (I even saw cinnamon rolls once) and they have the best home made veggie burger I’ve ever eaten. It was weirdly similar in taste to a turkey burger. The owner that I spoke to was very nice and was vegan himself. I had a lovely time here and hope to go back once more before I leave. Find their website in English here.

4. Guacamole burrito truck.

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You may already know (because I’ve said it so many times) Kentaro the burrito guy named me pioneer of the vegan burrito at this place. Check out my post on it here. And if you’re in okinawa, be sure to pick up some of his fresh vegan burritos!

5. Bakery Suien.

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This place is as close as you’ll get to Panera Bread in Okinawa. I highly recommend it. They made the best veggie sandwich I’ve ever had, and their tofu “cheese” is delicious. I recommend trying the elderberry soda with your meal! Read more by clicking here.

6. Ploughmans lunch bakery.

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HOLY CRAP this place is fabulous. A bakery as well as cafe, everyone orders the same plate with a drink. You can order yours vegan style, they speak English and will know to make yours without animal products. The plate is either a veggie plate (topped with a small amount of meat usually, for the omnivores) or veggie sandwich and normally comes with soup, a drink, and a basket of fresh bread. You can also purchase their breads to go. I highly recommend eating here. You can find out more information by clicking here.

7. Cafe Niffera.

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This place is owned by my sweet friend Naoko. At the hotel she runs is a breakfast cafe that is sure to sweep you off of your feet. With something for vegans and vegetarians as well, it’s perfect to stop in here for a breakfast before shopping the tsuboya pottery village. Check out my post on it here.

8. Soi cafe.

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A curry place in Tsuboya pottery village. This place is so cute and the food is fresh and delicious. They only have one vegan option – vegan curry. But sometimes they have vegan desserts like cookies and once in a while they make vegan donuts. You can find their Facebook page here.

9. Sushi.

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There is tons of it on the island, even for vegans! Check out my post about the different places to grab some vegan sushi by clicking here.

10. Daikon No Hana.

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A buffet with multiple locations in Okinawa. They have fresh local produce, and lots of tofu dishes. There’s an ingredient card next to each dish explaining if it contains meat, dairy, or eggs. Read more about it here.

11. Sunabe gyros.

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My husband is obsessed with this place. They make a falafel gyro with hummus, lettuce, and tomato (make sure you order it without tzatziki sauce). They also have a pita and hummus plate, as well as vegetable soup. Read more about it here.

12. Plenty of Joy. (UPDATE- closed as of March 2015)20140809-213040-77440943.jpg

A small sandwich and smoothie shop in Naha, right off of kokusai street. They make house made soy mayo and slather it on some super fresh sandwiches. Plus, their smoothies are swoon worthy. Check out my post on POJ here.

13. Cactus eatrip.

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A cafe near foster with a menu centered on delicious home made bagels. The majority of their bagels are vegan, and their hummus is to die for. They also have a great drink menu including Oreo smoothies and they do have soymilk for your coffee. One of my favorite places. I recommend checking it out. More info can be found here.

14. Jai Thai.

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Jai thai is a thai food restaurant in American village that has an entire menu page dedicated to vegan fair. Beware of the curries though, they contain shrimp paste. They’re veggie pad thai is delicious, as is their fried tofu. More info can be found here.

15. Bollywood Dreams.

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An Indian curry restaurant in American village that has multiple types of veggie curry. Vegan naan bread is available but must be requested 24 hours in advance. Their pumpkin curry is my favorite thing on the menu. More info can be found here.

16. Vita smoothie.

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Smoothie and bagel shop in Naha near kokusai street. They have a list of options for smoothies so you can pick and choose what you’d prefer in your smoothie. They will make you a bagel with veggies and basil sauce if you ask them to. Their menu now has an English version. More info can be found here.

17. Ukishima garden.

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Vegan restaurant in Naha near kokusai street. They have a great menu! I’ve had their seafood “roe” pasta, their taco rice pizza, the caprese salad and their Salisbury steak. Everything here is delicious, and I highly recommend going. We save this place for special occasion date nights because it’s very cute and romantic at night. Read more info here.

18. Woodys international.

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A burger place near tomigusuku. The owner, Cody, is an American and happy to make you vegan fare! I’ve had the veggie wrap, salads, and pasta here- all are delicious and fresh! He does make a delicious vegan burger as well.If you would like a veggie burger, give him 24 hours advance notice. Read Carola’s post about Woodys and get more info by clicking here.

19. Pizzakaya Okinawa.

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This pizza place has some options for vegans. It’s owned by Americans and they are familiar with veganism, so much so that they’ve actually made a “vegan cheese” for their veg customers. Salads, pizza, and roasted veggies are all available for vegans. I recommend the wild mushroom pizza with vegan cheese and add guacamole. More info can be found here.

20. C&C breakfast Okinawa.

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A breakfast cafe in Naha with a few options for vegans. Read Carola’s post on it here.

21. Hearth Cafe.

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A cafe by the sea wall that is willing to work with you to make you vegan food. They’ve made us veggie sandwiches and veggie rice bowls. They’re very generous with their avocado, which is a huge deal for me! More on this place here.

22. Dosha.

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A vegan curry shop not far from kadena. She has healthy curries, vegan pudding, and I’ve heard she sells vegan muffins. Her curry is excellent, I highly recommend it. Find their Facebook page with their address listed here.

23. Istanbul Kebab House.

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A Turkish restaurant in Sunabe that has vegan curry available upon request. Also try their hummus while you’re there! More info available here.

24. L’Orange Patisserie.

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My favorite bakery. Thankfully it’s not too close to my house or I’d be there every day. It’s in Ginowan near foster, so if you’re in that area you are about to eat your weight in delicious muffins. The owner/baker Michiyo has freshly baked vegan muffins and cookies. A great option for those who are craving something sweet, but also fresh and not loaded with chemicals and preservatives. Read my post about this bakery here.

25. Starbucks Coffee.

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This may seem like a dumb thing to add to the list, but Starbucks locations are all over Okinawa and every one I’ve been to carries soymilk. Sometimes they also have fresh fruit salad if you need a snack on the go.

26. Poka Poka
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A raw food smoothie bar in Naha. Their smoothies are packed with nutrition and superfoods. Beware- these are not your typical Jamba Juice. Some of their smoothies contain Goya, which is not for the faint of heart. This place can be hard to find, and I don’t have directions. Find yourself a friend to help navigate! Their website:
here.

27. Tamie’s Kitchen

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A new vegetarian/vegan place opening 9/1/2014 in American village. They had a pre-opening gathering outside the restaurant where they sold soft serve ice cream and sandwiches. The ice cream was delicious! I am so sad I won’t be here when they officially open, but if you’re in Okinawa you should absolutely check them out. Check out their Facebook page by clicking here.

Places I have not been. (Click on the names to view more info).
These are not omnivorous restaurants with veg options, they are strictly vegetarian/vegan.

1. Cafe Ionca

2. Biosmile Cafe

3. Canaan Slow Farm

4. Kintsubo Shokudo

5. Cafe Kokuu

6. One Life Cafe

7. Munakata-do Bakery

I’ve also gotten word of vegan options being available by request at the omnivore restaurants Deans Kitchen, Borrachos, El Patio, Cinnamon Cafe, Coffee Casa, Mofgomona. I don’t have much details other than word of mouth from fellow adventurous vegans mentioning that they have been able to find vegan fare here after explaining what veganism is, showing their diet card (pictured below), and relying on the kindness of the employees to whip up something for them. Great places to check out if you’re in a pinch.

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There’s more, I’m sure. But I don’t know them all. I could drive all over this island and back and still not have found all of the vegan food. Try these places out, but don’t be afraid to explore the island and ask about vegan options. It helps to carry along the following card, either save it to your smart phone or print it out. It will help you out when you find yourself in a translation struggle and you’re really in need of some vegan food. It also helps to learn the words for meat, milk, eggs, etc.

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Thank you for reading! If you’re new to Okinawa and looking for vegan eats, welcome to the island and I hope this post helps you. I feel privileged to have started my vegan journey here, and to have had the opportunity to try so many different kinds of vegan food and meet new friends. I hope your experience is just as wonderful. Enjoy!

Rachel

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15 thoughts on “Being Vegan in Okinawa – Where to Eat

  1. Dee says:

    Tried out Hearth Cafe, and a bit disappointed. The server was very sweet, but not all that willing to be creative/help make things vegan. Ended up with taco rice sans meat and cheese, plus two bucks worth of avocado. Oh, well. It’ll probably be decent.

    • Dee says:

      Update: tried to order fruit toast at Hearth Cafe to make up for spending $13 on rice, 1/2 and avocado, and salsa for my entree. Specified “no butter, whipped cream, or ice cream.” I’m stuck paying $8 for toast slathered in ice cream. Don’t eat here if you’re vegan. It’s a waste of your money. I showed them the “I’m vegan card.” Her dinner suggestion was to order edamame. Never again. Waste of $21.

      • Yeah ordering dessert at this place… Probably not ever going to go well for a vegan. If you’re looking for desserts go check out Dechibica or sprout cafe or tamies kitchen, places that are familiar with vegan food and have options readily available. Hearth cafe is a good place to go for lunch when you’re with an omnivore friend, but if you want a great vegan meal complete with dessert go to dechibica.

    • Yeah that cafe doesn’t really understand what vegan is, but you can eat there if you don’t mind asking for lots of substitutions and some funny looks from the servers. I actually really like that place. I veganize the surfer bowl and it’s delicious. My husband asks for a veggie sandwich with no mayo or cheese and that’s always good too. You can also do a cheese-free pizza with veggies and extra avocado. Gotta get a little creative, but it’s worth the effort.

  2. bleepblorp-san says:

    I’ve recently been told that the emulsifier used in Starbucks soymilk is from an animal source. While it’s not specified on the ingredients and you’d have to write to them to confirm, I do know that they changed their soymilk in 2008 from pure soy to one containing additives.

      • bleepblorp-san says:

        The information unfortunately is about Japanese Starbucks (I’m not American). The change in soy milk and ingredients list was confirmed by Starbucks Japan in an e-mail. As for the origin of the emulsifier, I was only told by vegans in Japan the other day that it’s from an animal source but haven’t checked with Starbucks yet.

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