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The Vegan Society Japan

Posted Jun 08 2009 6:56pm
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.
More Vegan and Vegetarian News at Vegan News - Health, Diet and Nutrition News
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