Vegan Wine, Beer, Sake Gaining Popularity in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Akiteru Imai of Bio c’ Bon Japon Co. shows a variety of vegan wines at Bio c’ Bon in the Azabu-Juban district in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.

As vegan-friendly options become more readily available nationwide, more companies are developing wine, beer and sake that appeal to the vegan consumer.

A vegan is someone who does not consume any animal-derived products, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy. It is said that the number of vegans is increasing, mostly among the younger generation because of growing health and environmental concerns.

About 10 kinds of vegan wine are available at a Bio c’ Bon outlet, a store that sells organic products in the Azabu-Juban district in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.

“Because of its good taste and quality, vegans are not the only ones drinking vegan wine,” said Akiteru Imai, a director of Bio c’ Bon Japon Co., who is in charge of wine at Bio c’ Bon stores.

Tokyo-based Nippon Beer Co., which specializes in imported and organic beer, sells eight types of vegan beer, including Yukinoho Fuji Beer.

Vegan tourists are expected to visit Japan if the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are held next summer as scheduled.

“We thought vegan beer would also promote Japanese beer in general,” said Tetsuro Yano, the head of Nippon Beer’s sales and marketing department.

With the increase in popularity of Japanese cuisine abroad, sake manufacturers that are looking to expand their overseas business are catering to the vegan diet. Among them are Nanbu Bijin Co. in Iwate Prefecture and Nagai Sake Inc. in Gunma Prefecture.

Wine, beer and sake usually do not use animal products. However, gelatin made from fish or egg whites has occasionally been used to remove lees.

The Tokyo-based nonprofit organization VegeProject Japan issues a vegan certification mark, which is used to identify vegan products. VegeProject said about 400 products have received the certification, and it has increased by nearly five times in the past two years.

“Vegans can enjoy wine knowing it is vegan-friendly, thanks to the certification mark,” said Haruko Kawano, the representative director of the organization. “It would be great if the mark could help raise awareness about veganism and environmental issues.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yukinoho Fuji Beer bears the vegan certification mark.