Kansha: Celebrating Japan’s Vegan & Vegetarian Traditions

October 31, 2010

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Kansha: Celebrating Japan’s Vegan & Vegetarian Traditions

Kansha is both credo and culinary practice--an expression of gratitude for nature’s gifts and deep appreciation for the efforts and ingenuity of those who take nature’s bounty and turn it into good food. The spirit of kansha, deeply rooted in Buddhist philosophy and tradition, encourages all cooks to prepare nutritionally sound and aesthetically satisfying meals that avoid waste, conserve energy, and preserve the earth’s natural resources. Classic shōjin ryōri, Japan’s vegan temple cuisine, exemplifies this mindset.
Japan culinary authority Elizabeth Andoh guides us through the kansha kitchen. Kansha is not about abstention--doing without meat, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy. Kansha is about abundance--of grains, legumes, roots, shoots, leafy plants (aquatic and terrestrial), shrubs, herbs, berries, seeds, tree fruits, and nuts.

Learn about the ecologically and nutritionally sound practice of ichi motsu zen shoku (one food, used entirely) that makes use of all edible parts of plant foods: peels, roots, shoots, stems, seeds, and flowers. Discover the pleasures of kondate-zukushi (planning a meal to showcase a regional, seasonal product), and playful modoki (edible look-a-likes).

Elizabeth Andoh was born in New York but has made Japan her home since 1967. A graduate of the Yanagihara School of Classical Japanese Cuisine, Andoh is the author of four books on Japanese cooking, including two IACP award-winners, An Ocean of Flavor and Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen. She was Gourmet’s Japan correspondent for more than three decades and was a regular contributor to the New York Times travel section for many years. Andoh lectures internationally on Japanese food and culture and directs A Taste of Culture, a culinary program based in Tokyo and Osaka. 

Recorded Saturday, October 30, 2010 at the Chicago History Museum.