Living in Japan and being a vegan just doesn’t compute for most people. I’m often met with reactions of astonishment that I haven’t given up. It’s very do-able. Especially, when you have a vegan friendly store like Cosmos Farm (I just call it Cosmos) in town.
I didn’t know about Cosmos when I moved to Gifu City, but I have a store owner in Nagoya to thank for telling me about it. Finding out about Cosmos was the highlight of that month. Ever since then I’ve been going there at least once a week. It’s a one minute walk from Meitetsu Gifu station. How could I have missed it?
Well, it’s a small store, but there’s a lot of merchandise. You’ll find snacks (So many snacks!), a wide variety of organic produce, sauces/condiments, packaged foods, beverages, and much more. Basically, there’s no chance of going hungry.
If you go there you’ll probably be greeted by two older ladies (see photo). I asked the owner why she opened the store. She said she wanted a place where customers could shop with the peace of mind knowing that what they’re buying is free of harmful ingredients. Cosmos has been around for 13 years.
It’s no wonder, the merch is great, and the staff is so friendly and very accommodating. Once I found something from a store in another prefecture, and they were able to order it for me, for free. Another time I went in right before closing time. I apologized for being there after hours, but they said if I’m ever running late to just call and they’d wait. Last summer, I often came in sweaty (It gets nasty hot here.) and in need of a cold beverage. They always offered me a seat so I could cool down and enjoy the drink. The women are locals so they’re a good resource for things around town, and they’re always pointing out interesting Japanese words. They’re just fun to talk with. Going to Cosmos reminds me of the theme song from Cheers, “ …where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came.”
Some of my favorite items are,
Vegan bread - Finding vegan bread at a supermarket is impossible, and it’s hit or miss (usually a miss) at bakeries. When I’m in the mood for bread I know where to go. My favorite is a roll with walnuts.
Chocolate! - Yes, chocolate. Forget about finding vegan friendly chocolate in regular stores. When that craving hits Cosmos has got me covered.
Sauces - I think of myself as a lazy vegan. Meaning, I like making very easy to prepare meals. There are two sauces I use almost every week, maboudofu (Szechuan) and gobo (burdock). I add some tofu, some other veggies, and eat it with brown rice. Yum!
Ginger throat lozenges – They contain no sugar or menthol.
One thing to know before going, virtually everything is in Japanese. Don’t let that intimidate you. You can probably guess what things are by looking at the package, but the owners know a wee bit of English and will be able to help you decipher things. They’re happy to be of help so don’t be shy about asking. (Hey, an opportunity to learn some Japanese.) They’re in the process of adding English signage around the store. If you find yourself at Cosmos, tell them you saw this article.
I just acquired a rice cooker that can make cake. (What will they think of next?) I’m feeling kind of adventurous so once I find a recipe I’ll have to check out what kind of baking ingredients I can get my hands on.