Japan is not an easy place for vegans and vegetarians. Most dishes usually contain dashi – a skipjack bonito broth – while vegan and vegetarian eating, whether it’s a lifestyle choice or religious adherence, is not widely understood. Things have improved significantly, however, and Kyoto now has a good number of restaurants catering to vegans and vegetarians.
Vegan ramen at Towzen in Kyoto – image © Florentyna Leow
That being said, Japanese cuisine does have one genre of vegan food – shojin ryori, or Zen temple vegetarian cuisine. Kyoto has several great restaurants specialising in this cuisine, so we’ve listed them under a separate category. Check out the Best Shojin Ryori page [link to page] for more.
The restaurants we mention below are just some of our favourites in town. All vegan places will be suitable for vegetarians, and we’ve specified whether restaurants are fully vegan or not in our reviews below. One thing’s for sure, though – it has never been easier or more fun to eat vegetarian and vegan food in Kyoto than now!
- AIN SOPH. Journey Kyoto (Downtown Kyoto; budget to mid-range)
A vegan meal in downtown Kyoto has never been easier to find. Just head to Ain Soph Journey right off Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcade. The food is decent, but their desserts are even better – we recommend the pancakes and chocolate gateau.
- Izusen (Central Kyoto; mid-range)
Looking for a vegan meal in beautiful surroundings? Try a shojin-ryori lunch at Izusen in Daitoku-ji Temple. Their gorgeous and elaborate meals are sure to be a highlight of your visit to Kyoto.
- Sujata (Northern Higashiyama; budget)
With reasonably priced lunch sets clocking in at under JPY1000 a pop, Sujata is a long-time favourite with Kyoto residents looking for homey vegetarian fare. Head here for nourishing lunches that won’t break the bank.
- Choice (Northern Higashiyama; budget to mid-range)
Choice restaurant is a great place to enjoy Japanese-style vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free food. It’s at Sanjo-Keihan, very close to Downtown Kyoto.
- Falafel Garden (Northern Higashiyama; budget to mid-range)
A great vegetarian restaurant in northern Kyoto, Falafel Garden specializes in the eponymous falafel, but there’s plenty more on the menu to keep things interesting.
- Biotei (Downtown Kyoto; mid-range)
Biotei is like a good vegetarian restaurant crammed into a dollhouse up a spiral staircase. Sure, it’s cramped: but the food is good.
- Mumokuteki Café (Downtown Kyoto; budget)
Mumokuteki Café is one of the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Kyoto. The food is great and it’s right in the middle of downtown.
Best Kyoto Restaurant Recommendations
- Best Restaurants In Kyoto
- Best Affordable Sushi in Kyoto
- Best Cafes in Kyoto
- Best Child-Friendly Restaurants in Kyoto
- Best Gyoza in Kyoto
- Best Izakaya in Kyoto
- Best Japanese Tea and Sweet Shops in Kyoto
- Best Kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine) in Kyoto
- Best Kissaten in Kyoto
- Best Okonomiyaki in Kyoto
- Best Ramen in Kyoto
- Best Resutoran-gai in Kyoto
- Best Shojin Ryori (Japanese Buddhist vegetarian cuisine)
- Best Shokudo (All Round Restaurants) in Kyoto
- Best Soba and Udon in Kyoto
- Best Sukiyaki in Kyoto
- Best Tempura in Kyoto
- Best Tofu Cuisine in Kyoto
- Best Tonkatsu in Kyoto
- Best Unagi in Kyoto
- Best Vegan and Vegetarian in Kyoto
- Best Yakitori in Kyoto
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router.
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass - here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy - here's how.
- Get travel insurance for Japan - we recommend World Nomads (and here's why)