An Interview with Japanese Veg Writer Hiroko Kato

By Nina Lehr, VRG Intern

Today, vegetarian and vegan writers are producing a wide
array of engaging content. Consumers now have a plethora of both entertaining
and informative reads about the plant-based lifestyle at their fingertips!
Simply search up “Vegan books” on Amazon, and you’ll be met with over 10,000
results! One writer who is contributing to this explosive movement is Hiroko
Kato, a Tokyo-based freelance writer who is currently working on a vegan
nutrition book for Japanese consumers. In an interview with her, Kato shared
her story of learning about and eventually adopting a vegetarian diet. “When I
started my freelance career, I applied for a program that I could work with
media in the U.S. to learn writing in English as well as to experience the
Internet media situation. The Vegetarian Resource Group was the one that
accepted me, then I became interested in vegetarianism. I had no idea what it
was first, but soon I realized how exciting the vegetarian world is.”

     Kato also shared
her inspiration for starting her current book project: “There is plenty of
useful information written in English, but some of them don’t fit for us
[Japanese people] just because of the difference in dietary habits.” Kato will
serve as the book’s editor, in addition to contributing several articles
regarding the basics of veganism. The exciting project will be published within
the next 1-2 years!

     Kato additionally
discussed the state of the vegetarian/vegan movement within Japan. “In general,
people are still confused about the idea. For example, I often have [been
served] a salad with bacon when I order salad without meat at restaurants.
Also, they think preparing food without fish is difficult, because fish stock
is deeply connected with traditional Japanese dishes, such as Miso soup. The
Japanese translation of the word ‘vegetarian’ is a person who eats vegetables,
so they tend to forget that soy products are also vegetarian ingredients.”
Still, she mentioned a lot of progress being made recently. “The situation is a
bit changing these years. You can find many crowded vegan restaurants,
including the top restaurant in the Happy Cow’s list, here in Tokyo. Now food
companies are eager to create vegan, or plant-based, products that they expect
Japanese people, especially young ones, are interested in trying the eating
style.”

     There is clearly
much to be optimistic about, and veg writers such as Kato are playing an
important role in the movement’s rapid spread world-wide!

Here are articles that Hiroko wrote while doing her VRG internship:https://www.vrg.org/journal/vj99sep/1999_sep_vegetarianism_japan.php
https://www.vrg.org/journal/vj99nov/1999_nov_japanese_holiday.php
https://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2003issue3/2003_issue3_noodles.php

Information on VRG internships can be found here: https://www.vrg.org/student/index.php

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