Monday, October 1, 2012

A vegetarian dream, maybe?!

This morning, while eating breakfast, this topic came to my mind, so...I can as well make an entry about it!

Well, as I mentioned in the entry before I left to Japan, parts of the family owns/ maintains a temple and two of the family are buddhist priests. My hostparents weren't, and as far as I knew, they were worried on what to make to eat for a vegetarian person. But....I was sure the rest of the family would know better. Well, it looks like I was wrong with that assumption!

In these times and ages being a vegetarian in Japan is a rare thing,so they told me. They asked me about the reasons for it, but it's something that is a common question here in Germany, too. So, it went somewhat like this:

"So, why don't you eat meat and fish, actually?"
"Well, to eat it, you have to kill a living being first, right? And since I wouldn't do that, I don't eat. It's rather simple."
"So you're sympathic for the animals.You know, it used to be like this in Japan a long time ago. No one ate meat or fish because of the buddhism believes. But by now, everyone eats it, just like the Western people, even the buddhist priests do. Are there many vegetarians in Germany?"
"Well, majority isn't, but there are more than here, I think. In the big cities, there are even specialized restaurants." 
"Hm....who knows, maybe in 20 years, we will stop to eat it again, too."
"Well, that's something for you to decide or do, but yes, who knows!"

In addition to that, they explained that the one who "founded" this type of "Shin Buddhism", Shinran,  said/ taught that it's fine for priests to marry, as well as to eat meat or fish!

But what else can I say... they surely gave their best to give me vegetarian food! And if there were things a wasn't sure if I could eat, or they were just completely bad taste for me, it was no problem to leave it be, luckily! And if I didn't/ couldn't eat something, they arranged other foods for me!  I'm sure I gave them some trouble and work with this, so I'm grateful that they helped me to maintain this part of my life! And I tried to be a good girl to eat all the food that I got (as long as no fish or meat), even if it had strange textures, or was just.....yuck! But don't worry, there were also foods that were really delicious!

One day while working at the kindergarten, and actually just getting the Bentos out for lunch, they asked me to go to the families house, because they wanted to show me something. I didn't really understood what they wanted me to show, so...I was surprised that it was a traditional buddhist vegetarian meal! It's something I would be interested in for sure, they said! And I was!

Well, I couldn't eat it, because it was made for the priests and their visit. It's a special meal that is only being prepared if someone has passed away. From what I have been told, this is one of the rare expections in which there is no meat or fish in the meals. (Of course there is a name for this kind of meal too, but once again, I will have to ask)

So what is in this nice looking meal? It sure looks neat, doesn't it? And it's called  "Shojin-bi"
(I think)

Let's start with the middle: the white "square" is Tofu, with a bit of Wasabi on top. Beneath, it's a type of noodles, with a bit of Daikon and Daikon sprouts.

The one on the upper left is eggplant with a bit of fried onions and sesamseeds, the one on the right vegetables, among them pumpkin, and others whose names I can't remember (sorry!). But those vegetables were common there, and I can say they are delicious!

On the lower left is a bowl of rice, and to the right it's miso-soup (I think), with rice (maybe), and another piece Tofu, but this time with spinach and mustard on top.


  1. So yor having lots of experiences in Japan! I think in the end it's not so hard to have a vegetarian meal there because they have like a 1000 variantions of soy stuff. In Kyoto we went to a restaurant (was very funy had a cat and mouse theme, RatZorZ had a blast there) that only served soy based food.
    My best friend is also a vegetarian and we had long debates about it because I don't agree with the vegetarian life style. You always kill to eat. Animals just feel closer to you. But humans are animals and biologically designed to be omnivorous which means: eat everything that isn't poison. I don't agree that we need to eat meat and fish every day or have such unrespectful behaviour towards other species, however I have no problem whatsoever with the "kill to eat". But anyways it's a personal choice and to be respected of course. I might add that if you ever decide to visit Portugal I can prepare nice vegetarian meals and know all the good restaurants. Keep having fun in Japan!!!

    1. Hello Ana!

      Well, actually I'm back in Germany. It was a short but big adventure!
      I think you're right, no matter if human or animal or plant, they all have value no matter what we eat, we should respect all our food, and have in mind the time it took to grow or raise them!
      Another reason for me not eating meat or fish is.....well, I simply stopped at some no desire for it...
      I like to cook and bake, but being a vegetarian is actually something I don't think of so much.
      But it's a personal choice, like you said, and we should be glad to be able to chose. There are many in the world who can't!

      Homecooked portuguese vegetarian sure sounds delicious.... ;)