Dining Out As A Vegan: Sushi


Though it may not sound like it to you or your friends, sushi is often an excellent option for vegan dining. Why? Because sushi means “vinegared rice.” Sushi does not have to mean dead sea animals.

Here’s what most sushi restaurants have to offer to vegetarians and vegans:

  • edamame (steamed and usually salted soy beans)
  • vegetable roll (a mix of about 4 vegetables rolled up in rice and nori)
  • asparagus roll
  • avocado roll
  • plum roll
  • cucumber roll
  • other types of vegetable or fruit rolls
  • inari (rice inside a bean curd “boat”)
  • vegetable tempura (fried veggies. Double check to make sure it’s vegan because it might have egg in the batter.)
  • vegetable tempura roll (fried veggies inside rice and nori)
  • vegetable gyoza (ask to make sure it’s vegan)
  • miso soup (a salty soup with bits of nori and tofu. Double check with your waiter, though, because sometimes it’s made with a fish base rather than a vegetable base, thus some miso soup is not vegan.)
  • salads (often vegan, but ask to make sure)

The other great thing about sushi restaurants is that they’re virtually always willing to make you something special. In fact, many sushi chefs take pride in making something off the menu, espeicially for you. Just tell your server or the chef that you’re a vegan and ask if they can make you something special.

Bonus: If you’re with omnivores and you order something off the menu, everyones attention gets directed towards you and your hip, special food (instead of their dead sea kittens wrapped in rice and seaweed.)

Oh, and don’t worry if you don’t know how to use chopsticks or how to pronounce the words on the menu. Feel free to eat with your (clean) hands. And just ask your server how to pronounce something.

7 Responses to Dining Out As A Vegan: Sushi

  1. You should always be sure to ask if tempura is vegan as well, because 9 out of 10 times the batter contains eggs. You should also make certain to ask if any of the sauces or pastes included in the roll contain animal products like fish eggs or dairy. One of the coolest things about sushi restaurants is that many of them have sushi bars, which means you have direct access to your chef, and can ask him to clarify any ingredients you aren’t sure of.

    Be sure to check the menu for non-sushi options too, like agedashi tofu – which is usually vegan, but as always, be sure to ask. I think sushi is one of the most fun ways to enjoy great vegan food, either at home or dining out.

    ~ Recent blog post: Rational ignorance ~

  2. Good point. I’ll update the post.

  3. 90%+ of the time miso soup will have bonito flakes (fish in it). I’ve found many times that if I ask a server if there’s fish in the miso soup, the answer will be “no.”

    Ask if there’s “bonito” in it, the answer will most likely be “yes.”

    I discovered this when a previous vegan girlfriend with a fish allergy got numbed lips from sipping miso soup at a Mall restaurant, when the servers insisted there wasn’t any fish in it.

    Of course, there was… bonito flakes.

    As to sushi, often I’ll order “futomaki” without crab or ask for a custom veggie roll. I find that they are usually very accomodating, and letting the server know you’ll tip accordingly doesn’t hurt.

    FYI, Mark

  4. Not to shamelessly plug my own blog, but: http://thevegasvegan.blogspot.com/2008/09/sushi-zen.html

    Sushi is my absolute favorite vegan option when dining out with friends. It requires the least amount of questions – especially if you’re sitting at a sushi bar and have access to the chef – and doesn’t appear any different from what the non-vegans are eating.

    One thing I’ve learned is that some Japanese chefs consider fish flakes or egg to be vegetarian. In other words, if you order a vegetarian or vegetable roll, ASK for an exact list of ingredients. Or… like me… order a specialty roll that you design yourself.

  5. I love all types of sushi, although more often then not I veganize the whole thing so I can have my tamago-yaki and “salmon” rolls when I like.

  6. I live in Australia and pretty much all sushi has mayo in it which is really annoying!


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