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Episode 591: VegeProject Japan ft. Haruko Kawano and Mian Osumi

By Jasmin and Mariann — May 08, 2021

We’re thrilled to welcome Haruko Kawano and Mian Osumi of VegeProject Japan to the podcast this week for an informative and fascinating conversation about Japan’s growing vegan movement. Founder of VegeProject Japan, Haruko discusses how she successfully helped implement vegan-friendly options at Kyoto University during her time there as a student and how, after graduation, inspired by her dog, she founded VegeProject to help make vegan-friendly options more accessible throughout Japan. She also shares how a once-in-a-lifetime meeting with Paul McCartney encouraged her to continue doing this critical work. Haruko is joined by Mian Osumi, VegeProject’s International Representative, who gives us a can’t-miss historical overview of how colonialism introduced dairy and beef into the modern Japanese diet.

Haruko’s VegeProject Japan is a non-profit organization that helps industries produce vegan products, issues vegan certifications, collaborates with companies, and works with local administrators on community development. Mian Osumi is a vegan content creator and former Food and Nutrition Intern with The Humane Society of the United States.

“There are many reasons to be vegan: for animals, for the environment, for health. When we start talking to our listeners, we care about what they are most interested in and start there. More and more, we’re able to start talking about animals and environmental issues. We talk about the points that attract them first and talk about how connected the issues are.”
Haruko Kawano and Mian Osumi

Interview Highlights:

  • How Haruko initiated a vegan food program within Kyoto University
  • How dairy and beef were introduced in Japan
  • How VegeProject Japan is working with corporations and what their long term goals are
  • The products that VegeProject Japan has been instrumental in getting introduced into supermarkets
  • The two central purposes of VegeProject Japan
  • How Haruko plans to popularize vegan products and create more demand
  • Haruko’s outreach and educational work around the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle
  • The factory farming situation in Japan and where the majority of the country’s animal products come from
  • The national VegeMap project and why Haruko was inspired to create an accessible way for vegans to find plant-based restaurant


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This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at


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Don’t forget to tune into Our Hen House’s other two podcasts: The Teaching Jasmin How to Cook Vegan Podcast, and The Animal Law Podcast.

The Our Hen House theme song is written and performed by Michael Harren.

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