Monday, June 08, 2009

The Vegan Society Japan

vegan logo symbol japan

日本 VEGAN 協会

The Vegan Society of Japan has been founded in 2009 to support the
work of Akiko Iwasa, promoter of the Kyoto Vegetarian Festival ( Actually a purely Vegan festival,and the largest veggie event in Japan, it has been running for 6 years and attracts around 5,000 individuals.

Akiko Iwasa, is a qualified veterinarian and the co-founder of Café
Peace in Kyoto and is dedicated to promoting animal rights and

Since opening in July 2002, Café Peace grew in reputation and
influence around Japan, inspiring many other restaurants and
individuals to become vegan. Although veganism and animal rights
activism is still very much in its infancy in Japan, Akiko has visited
slaughterhouses and animal factories as part of her profession and was
deeply motivated by what she saw. She stopped being a vet because she
believed that vets are ultimately for the people and not for the
animals, and that vets in Japan are only encourage pet shops and the
animal exploitation of what she calls "artificial dogs".

Akiko now focuses what free time she has on spread the word on animal
abuse and believes that veganism is the best remedy for humans,
animals and the planet. Her work has included a weekly half-hour radio
program speaking on animal rights/veganism issues. She, and other
vegetarian innovators like her, have been target of vocal criticism
for disturbing Japan’s economic stability and challenging the factory
farm industry’s viability.

Vegetarianism and veganism are not alien to Japanese culture. The
oldest vegetarian restaurant in Japan (Daitokuji Ikkyu, Kyoto) is over
600 years old and serves vegan 'Shojin Ryori' (temple food), as do
other temple inns such as those at Koyasan. During the 265 year period
of peace called "Edo", before being forcibly opened up by America in
1854, Japanese society was primarily plant based, sustainable and
deeply invested into recycling. Despite this, and having little to no
carbon based fuels, it had the largest city in the world of that time,
modern Tokyo, and experienced one of the most rare flourishings of
culture in human history.

Prior to this, due to the influence of Buddhism, Japan had a tradition
of a primarily vegetarian diet going back over 1,200 years, despite
the efforts of Christian missionaries under Frances Xavier to
introduce meat based diet in the 16 th Century. Emperor Tenmu
prohibited the killing and eating of meat, including both farm animals
and apes, in 675 AD. A law enforced by proceeding emperors. At
Gyokusen-ji, there is a memorial statue to the first cow slaughtered
for its meat, and milk drunk, dated to the late 19th century and the
influence of the first American Consul General Townsend Harris
(1804-1878). Only at this time, did Japan see the removal of the long
standing social taboo against eating meat.

Unfortunately, since the Post-World War II "re-education period", the
Japanese diet has become increasing Westernised and its food market
the target of international meat industries and its fishing industry
expand globally. Since the adoption of oil-based capitalism, and its
economic booms, Japan's diet has become increasingly unsustainable,
and animal based, provoking concerns of its "food security" and
reliance on imports.

However, traditional original foods still exist as part of the staple
diet and are availabe widely. They afford a rich, varied and
nutritious sources for vegetarians and vegans. There is also a healthy
undercurrent of organic, macrobiotic, LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and
Sustainability), organic farming and 'alternative lifestyles'
movements not usually reported in the international mainstream press.

Despite the impression given in the foreign media, the eating of
whales is not universally supported, nor practised. It remains a
largely sentimental attachment for an older generation who, suffering
food shortages and starvation after the war, were the first to be
widely fed it.


ted said...

Cafe Peace closed over a year ago, replaced by Cafe Proverbs, also vegan and much tastier!

I do miss Cafe peace's events though...

herwin said...

"The Vegan Society of Japan has been founded in 2009 to support the
work of Akiko Iwasa"
this is a false statement and miss Iwasa has asked my help in contacting and removing these false and damaging statements of any website. furthermore she,nor her festival is in any way connected to mr Allan's society so it is rather dubieus for not removing this misleading information. in a previous press release about the matter is an email adres included of miss Iwasa. If the truth is a concern of you and your website and you have doubts about this message, please dont hesitate to check the facts with the person that you mention on your website, miss Iwasa,

herwin said...

please remove the false statement concerning miss Iwasa and the Vegetarian Festival Kyoto. Both are not connected and dont want to be connected to this new Vegan Society Japan.
This new "society" is run by mr Allan and his non-veggie wife. Mr Allan has made various victims by not paying the bill for vegan products ordered through internet, by cybersquatting domain names from other veggies, and by making false statements about other veggies such as miss Iwasa.

Matsuyama said...

"Herwin" is the owner of His company "Children of the Carrot" uses volunteers in Japan to translate, sell and distribute his self-published, but very useful and attractive book, the 'Japan Vegan Restaurant Pocketguide'. He is currently seeking to expand his empire to other Asian nations.

A conflict has arisen because Herwin considers that he owns the global rights to the terms 'Vegan Japan' - without even owning any trademarks. He relates it in his emails to McDonalds' exclusive rights over the term "HappyMeal".

Herwin considers that his monopoly goes beyond all trademark categories in Japan, even as far as to cover usernames on American websites.

Members of the Vegan Society of Japan have disagreed with him.

We believe that no one vegan owns the rights to "Vegan Japan", and that we vegans collectively (both members and non-members) are the living "Vegan Japan".

• Our challenged has enraged Herwin.

Since June 2009, Herwin has engaged in campaign to do as much damage possible to our young society, its relationships with the Vegan Society in the UK and elsewhere. This has involved multiple stalker-like telephone calls to home telephone numbers, attacks on persons not even involved in the JVS, and additional stresses to festival organizer Ms Akiko Iwasa.

A properly registered not-for-profit charity, committed to providing free information, might appear a threat to a small business that seeks to use volunteers but we have supported Herwin promoting and selling his book to members and general public at no profit to ourselves.

The registration of the Vegan Society of Japan was applied for in February 2009 and, as of August 2009, is still active within the complex Japanese system.

Readers will be informed that discussion and development work amongst JVS members continues, see also our related websites at: - information - discussion

Despite Herwin's best attempts, to quote Mark Twain, "reports of Vegan Society of Japan's death are greatly exaggerated".

To Herwin, our response is simple ... "so, sue us".

Thank you.

(contact details and references by request).

Tony - FoodsforLife said...

I'm sure all this childish bickering is leaving the Japanese in no doubt that Vegans are mentally unstable and in need of vitamin B12, EPA and DHA.

Japanese public please note - you can avoid these vegan deficiencies by adding algae to your diet.


Matsuyama said...

Although your comments are no doubt meant out of genuine concern and in good humor, Tony, the problems we have been experiencing raise another issue the vegan movement has perhaps not faced, and discussed, deeply enough.

That issue is related to mental health, 'borderline personality disorders' and anti-social behavior amongst vegans.

I have been vegan for more than 25 years. I have no intention of ever changing. I am convinced of its benefits to the world. But, at the same time, I would be both blind and dishonest if I was not to admit that for some individuals, veganism and animals rights activities become a mask for personality disorders and an excuse for anti-social behavior.

I am not sure that this has been studied or discussed enough. Nor has our response to it as a community. Many small groups, closed societies and cults suffer from just such behaviour. It is not unique but it is destructive and wasteful of the very limited resources our movement has.

For a movement that grew out of pacifism, and promotes peace with other species and the environment, it is strange how angry some vegans are ...

... and sad how that anger more than often turns in on the movement itself.

Many of us that have been in the movement for a long time will have experienced at one time or another:

• irrational personalization,
• attacks from other vegans,
• witnessed individuals who over-associate with or over-sentimentalize animal suffering ... and,
• others who used veganism as a cover for eating disorders.

These individuals are in a minority. Most vegans are happy, healthy, well-balanced and creative. The last category are probably not even "vegans", per se.

But my concern is that they are in a still low but disproportionately high number within the vegan movement when compared to society as a whole. I do not 'know' this, although I am questioning it.

For some, veganism takes on characteristics very similar to a cult religion.

To an extent, it is understandable and one can be sympathetic. Sailing against the tide of modern society by being vegan is tough. It can feel like a constant struggle. One is a tiny minority, rejected from many of the social activities that bind human beings into societies, or even families and, by one's dietary decision, rejecting of them.

This is an even greater problem in the communalistic Japanese society, where family bonds are much stronger, than in individualistic Western societies which is why the Vegan Society of Japan promotes a softer, more tolerant approach to veganism.

Neither vegetarianism nor veganism are as well known, clearly defined, or acceptable as they are in the West. Individuals find themselves victims to social pressures at a far deeper level. Separated by the barriers of culture and language, lessons that have been learned in the West are not being translated into the East.

• We seek to act as a two way bridge to do so.

Given the statistics of vegans in the West after 65 years of the movement (currently estimated at around 1% in the UK), the question we are asking ourselves is, what is the best ...

• to create one "100%" vegan, or
• to create ninety-nine "99%" vegans?

Hopefully the answer is at least "both". Perhaps we can do even better. But, from our experience, what has become clear is ...

• No one person owns "Vegan Japan", least of all a foreigner.

• Whereas we can educated ... and encourage by our example ... it is up to each and every individual to find the level they are capable of reforming their diet for whatever reasons.

Force is counter-productive.

• The last thing the movement needs is a "Vegan McDonalds" laying claim to the idea of being vegan as if it was a corporate trademark or monopoly.

Thank you.

Tony - FoodsforLife said...

This Japanese bunfight is spreading see Off the Hoof blog

However you are not the only ones to work out that 50 x 50% vegans have more effect than 1 x 100% EPA/B12 deficient Vegan.

Hence Paul McCartney et al's Meat Free Mondays