The Best Vegan Combini Snacks
Japanese convenient stores (combini) are not exactly known for their vegan options. However, when you do stumble upon an accidentally-vegan bag of potato chips, it can be hard to know if it’s worth the money.
Below are my favorite snacks from the three major combini brands in Japan– Family Mart, Lawson, and 7 Eleven. While most of them can be found at any of the three brands, some (like the veggie chips) are brand-specific.
Here is the shortlist; detailed information on each product can be found below.
- Salted popcorn
- Mino soramame (broad bean) crisps
- Roasted chestnuts
- Macrobiotic cookies
- Hitokuchi (bite-sized) sweet potato
- Roasted sweet potato
- Lawson’s veggie chips
There are a few different companies that make vegan-friendly popcorn, but it isn’t always easy to find. Family Mart is the most reliable since they sell a house-brand version, which is almost always in stock.
Mino Soramame (broad bean) Crisps
I recently discovered these and am obsessed. The ingredients are simple– just broad bean, oil, and salt. Mino also makes a kuromame (black bean) version of the same snack.
Roasted chestnuts (kuri) are quite popular and easy to find in Japan, and serve as a great nutritionally-dense and filling snack. Combinis will usually sell a few different brands of kuri, but I usually just go for the house-brand option since it’s the cheapest.
Biokura Macrobiotic Cookies
These semi-expensive (but tasty!) cookies can be found at select Family Mart or Natural Lawson stores for about ¥280 yen a pop.
They come in a variety of flavors such as pumpkin, sweet potato, or kinako. Personally, I think all of the flavors are quite good, so just go with whichever sounds the most good to you!
Hitokuchi (bite-sized) Sweet Potato
This is basically packaged roasted sweet potato. Not exactly the most practical snack as you could make this yourself or buy a whole roasted sweet potato, but it’s a great alternative if the previous two options are not viable. It’s also pretty healthy as the ingredients are just sweet potato and sugar.
Roasted Sweet Potato
As stated above, you can find whole ready-to-eat roasted sweet potatoes at many grocery stores or combinis throughout Japan.
Although they are a bit harder to find at combinis than at grocery stores, I have seen them around, including at my local Family Mart. You can munch on them plain or add a little salt/pepper to up the flavor.
Mochi, made from pounded rice, is a classic Japanese sweet. You can find various forms of mochi, such as daifuku (large mochi ball stuffed with a sweet paste, usually made with azuki beans), kushi-dango (mochi on a stick), or yomogi-mochi (mochi kneaded with yomogi leaves).
Beware that you will also found manju, another form of mochi that is typically made with eggs and thus is NOT vegan. You can tell the difference between mochi and manju by their outer layers– mochi has a sticky-rice outer layer, while manju has a bread-like outer layer.
Jelly in japan is surprisingly vegan-friendly since it’s usually made with agar-agar (a jelly-like substance made from seaweed), not gelatin. Most of the jelly cups come with whole fruit inside, making for a very tasty treat. The most common flavors are mikan or grape– I personally prefer the grape.
Lawson’s Veggie Chips
You can find many different types of veggie chips, but I like the Lawson brand most.
There are a few varieties such as sweet potato, mixed veggie (sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin), and lotus root. Again, the ingredients are very simple (just the vegetable and oil), making for a relatively clean snack.
Did your favorites make it onto the list? Are there any other snacks that I should be aware of? Let me know in the comments below!