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  • Writer's pictureDianne Lange

Tofu? Vegetables? Dairy-free? The Japanese know how to do it!

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

Like me, you've probably noticed that general eating habits are edging towards decreasing the amount of meat in your diet and increasing alternative proteins and vegetables instead. I have noticed that supermarket shelves over the last decade have dramatically expanded their assortment of alternatives to meat and dairy.

I am always curious to try these new alternatives as I consider myself to be a “flexitarian” – meaning that I am very happy to change-out some of my meat-based meals for either vegetable or alternative protein-based meals. The problem though, that plagues me the most is finding easy and satisfying ways to prepare these alternatives.

Well, let me tell you another thing about me – I adore Japanese food. I lived in Japan for eight years so I know a LOT about Japanese food. You may already know that it is a standard in Japanese cuisine to use meat and dairy alternatives like fish, soybeans and tofu.

Luckily for us, there are so many Japanese dishes that are meat and dairy-free without losing out on the flavour AND are super easy to cook.

Be it because you want to try something new, up the nutrition of your diet or if you’re hell-bent on saving the planet, I guarantee these Japanese dishes will be a welcome addition to your meal repertoire.

The Smoothie just got a whole lot smoother!

Smoothies using tofu as a base have an amazing silky texture that you just have to try. I love them! Try this delicious breakfast smoothie as proof that tofu isn't just a bland protein substitute.

Blueberry Tofu Smoothie

Dive into a rice bowl!

Donburi (Rice bowls) are a staple on the Japanese dinner table. Rice is topped with some form of protein cooked together with a savoury sauce or a varied selection of protein or vegetables. Here is one of my favourite donburi for you to try that is easy to cook and delectable!

Soy-glazed Eggplant Donburi

(see picture above)

Satisfying soup on chilly days!

Kenchin-Jiru is a Japanese alternative to traditional vegetable soup. The addition of tofu gives it a protein kick in a warming bowl of subtle asian flavours. My daughters love this soup as much as I do.


Use your noodle!

Who doesn’t love noodles? In Japan, you will find ramen noodle soup anywhere you go. There are ramen bars in every village serving their specialty ramen of the region. It is an absolute favourite with its delicious savoury soup being the highlight. I like to add edamame as well to up the protein...I just love them!

Vegetarian Ramen

Everyone loves teriyaki!

If you want to take tofu to the next level, try making Tofu Teriyaki. The addition of much loved teriyaki sauce and little specialty extras make this 100 times better than any ready-made "tofu teriyaki" you can buy in the shops. To make a Japanese meal complete, you can always serve a bowl of miso soup, a bowl of steaming rice and some Japanese pickles on the side.

Teriyaki Tofu

(see picture below)

Thank you to , and for allowing me to share their fabulous recipes.

Let me know if you tried out one of the recipes by leaving a comment!

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