Vegetarian foodways are relatively universal identifiable in different parts of the world and in different local contexts. However, owing to the particularities of these local contexts, vegetarian foodways are also culturally specific. I use the empirical example of vegetarianism in Japan on the one hand in order to both illustrate the transnational vegetarian foodways and show them in a context different from the original Western one. On the other hand, vegetarian foodways in Japan serve as an example of a distinct local variant of the transnational phenomenon. In addition, Japan has significantly contributed to the development of the transnational vegetarian foodways by means of the spread to the West of Zen Buddhism, macrobiotics and more general holistic attitudes to food and health, as well as certain foods. I start by presenting developments in modern Western foodways concerning the consumption of meat and attitudes to it, and within these developments, the advancement of vegetarianism as a dietary option, a lifestyle and a social movement. I point out Japan s contribution to these developments and identify the main tenets of the transnational vegetarian ideology resulting from the meeting of West and East : compassion for all living beings, human health and vitality of vegetarian food, and concern about the natural environment. I proceed to present vegetarianism in Japan through a series of contextualised empirical examples consisting of a vegetarian organisation and four individuals operating in Japanese society. I identify all the three tenets in the rhetoric of the vegetarian organisation, whereas the individuals represent various combinations of them. My conclusion is that vegetarianism in Japan is both part of the transnational phenomenon, and a distinct local articulation of it. The distinctiveness stems from the specificity of the Japanese context, including the traditional Japanese worldview and a traditional vegetarian practice which is part of that worldview.