You can count on convenience stores to jump on the latest food trends. Recently, things have been getting eco-friendly with the release of bioplastic onigiri wrappers at 7-Eleven, and now FamilyMart is serving its first ever vegan donburi – the Vegiberg-don.
Donburi are bowls of rice topped with anything from tempura (called a tendon) to slices of fresh seafood (a kaisendon); this one is topped with a vegan riff on a Japanese hamburger patty made from soybeans and served with cooked pumpkin, carrot, red peppers, potato, peas and corn – all covered in a rich, velvety gravy.
The patty is tender, but with enough chewiness to justify the ‘burger patty’ classification. While we wouldn’t exactly call the patty juicy, it’s certainly not dry, and it’s textured like mince. When combined with the gravy made with tomatoes, mushrooms and onions, the whole combination is flavourful and satisfying. Keep in mind this is still a convenience store ready-meal; it’s no Michelin-star affair.
Despite its relatively recent reintroduction into the Japanese diet in the late 1800s, meat has a strong hold on modern Japanese cuisine. Slowly but surely, though, options for vegans and vegetarians are becoming more widely available. For its part, FamilyMart says development of its donburi was driven by concern for environmental sustainability.
You’ll find the Vegiberg-don amongst the premade meals at FamilyMart – look for the green JPVS (Japanese Vegetarian Association) mark, certifying that the meal is indeed free of animal-derived products. It’s the first FamilyMart product to receive the JPVS seal of approval.
High in protein yet free of animal-derived products, the Vegiberg-don is available at selected FamilyMarts in Tokyo for ¥462 (excluding tax). Here’s hoping it’s the first of many vegan options to hit konbini shelves in the near future.
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