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Vegan Exchange Student in Osaka 2013/6/17 07:57
Hi! My school does a yearly exchange program with Osaka, and next year will be our turn to go, which is very exciting. The trip will be two weeks in the summer, and we will be assigned a host family. However, the only thing that is making me reconsider applying is the fact that I am a vegan (and a macro leaning one at that)... The only willing exception I could make is honey...

Would there be any stable premeasures I could take? Would informing the family that I'm a strict Buddhist be less offending? Would comparing my diet to 精進料理 or マクロ be too haughty? I honestly don't need to eat much, but I don't want to be rude to not eat with them or tell them they don't have to cook for me? Of course I would bring some vegan bars or such on my own but I know food is such a big part of Japanese culture and I don't want my veganism to burden anyone. Is there some hope of arrangement or shall I just not go?

Thank you so much!
by Sleepless (guest)  

Re: Vegan Exchange Student in Osaka 2013/6/17 10:39
Do not say you're buddhist. Japanese style buddhism isn't the vegan style stuff you get over towards India.
Plus lying sucks.

Just say you're a vegan. Its like a super vegitarian. If they're used to dealing with foreigners they should be worldly enough to understand.
I don't know any vegans but I know vegetarians and they get by just fine in rural Japan. In Osaka there should be no problem.
by takeda's ghost (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Vegan Exchange Student in Osaka 2013/6/17 12:41
Sorry, but if you don't want your veganism "to burden anyone" then I'd say you should cancel the trip. If you're staying with a host family they will go to great lengths to try to accommodate your diet, and probably fail, and then no one will be happy. And yes, the cuisine is an enormous component of Japanese culture, which you have chosen not to experience.

(Also, vegetarians living on their own in rural Japan, and vegans staying with a host family are two very different things in terms of the impact on other people.)
by Umami Dearest rate this post as useful

Re: Vegan Exchange Student in Osaka 2013/6/17 14:56
I don't mean to sound harsh, but don't go.

Vegans will not be seen as 'super vegetarians'. For a host family, it's more correct to say they will be seen as 'super annoying, selfish, and burdensome vegetarians'. It's also very costly to be vegan in Japan, so that's an added burden, as well. I actually think this would be true even in countries that have vegans, like the US. It's hard for ANY family that is not vegan to accommodate.

Even vegetarians who believe they have an accepting and accommodating host family would probably be hurt to learn that the host families actually complain A LOT about them when they're not around (I've seen host family evaluations).

If you are not willing to take a vegan break, it's rather cruel to make a host family try to please you, and they WILL try to please you.

If you really want to go to Japan, I'd suggest going on your own sometime when you have full control of where you go and what you eat.
by Rabbityama (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Vegan Exchange Student in Osaka 2013/6/17 15:11
Certainly true that the homestay thing really complicates that. I overlooked the homestay mention as I read.
I think not going is too much. You can get by in Osaka just fine. 100% you should still come to Japan.
The homestay factor however- that is impossible. As others have said you would indeed be a pain. Eating as a family with guests is a key part of life in Japan and supposed to be a major part of home stay life. It's really not good in the culture of many countries, including Japan, to force others to go out of their way to look after you.
by takeda's ghost (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Vegan Exchange Student in Osaka 2013/6/17 15:23
I agree that it is going to cause unacceptable burdens to the homestay family unless the homestay service specifically can accommodate students with such extreme dietary requirements. I think that most don't, but with the increasing number of visitors with strict dietary requirements - especially from Muslim cultures - some may. This is the first thing you should try to find out.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Thank you! 2013/6/18 10:21
Hi! Thank you so much for your replies! (I actually am Buddhist...) I never intended to make any family force themselves to "please me," I just wanted to see the depth of understanding in Japanese families and was wondering if experiencing other parts of the culture would somehow mask the eating part (because I honestly wouldn't mind not eating at all if it had to be so) I'm sorry if I appeared pretentious... Thank you for the information! I suppose I won't go. ^ ^
by Sleepless (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Vegan Exchange Student in Osaka 2013/6/18 20:43
I don't think you were being pretentious, but in Japan, they are taught from an early age that unless you have an allergy you should eat whatever you are served. In elementary school, they MUST eat all the food, so even a person who won't eat cucumber and eggplant, for example, will be considered "picky" in Japan, so you can imagine how a vegan will be perceived with all of the limitations they have.
by Rabbityama (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Vegan Exchange Student in Osaka 2013/6/19 04:59
If you are willing to eat what is served to you, then I think this is possible. Explain to the exchange program coordinator your diet, and see if you can match with a family. The biggest hurdle in home cooking will be the use of dashi, which can contain fish, and perhaps eggs. Other than that, if they know you won't be eating fish or meat because of your buddhist beliefs, I don't think that is a big deal. The Japanese are as sophisticated as anybody else and understand that there are other belief systems out there.
by ChicagoMike rate this post as useful

Re: Vegan Exchange Student in Osaka 2013/7/25 02:46
Maybe you are still going to read this and here is what i thought:

How about you research some japanese dishes that you could eat as a vegan (as said before, keep in mind dashi) and prepare a list, incl. some internationally known western type dishes.

Take this to discuss with your organisation and maybe it will help to find a family who would be comfortable with taking you in - once they have a concrete idea of what you can eat.
by a-mole (guest) rate this post as useful

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