Photo/IllutrationVegan chocolates are displayed on the shelves of this confectionery shop at Hiroshima Airport in Mihara, Hiroshima Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Foreign tourists who have a bone to pick over Japan's few vegetarian or vegan options and lack of labels designating meat- or dairy-free items have led lawmakers to consider creating a guideline to remedy the situation.

Takeo Kawamura, a lawmaker in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and other Diet members will set up an “all-party parliamentary group for vegetarians” on Nov. 6.

The group will discuss making a guideline for restaurants and food manufacturers that enables vegetarians to find food with acceptable ingredients, which is expected to be overseen by the Consumer Affairs Agency.

It is considering including a provision that advises restaurants, convenience stores and food manufacturers to indicate whether they have vegetarian-friendly food.

The group will also introduce a certificate system and discuss making a tentatively named “V-mark,” which shows that a restaurant or shop has items for vegetarians to prevent mistakes such as lard being used in a vegetarian curry.

The group’s goal is to draw up the guideline by compiling measures as early as next spring and provide it to those establishments before massive numbers of overseas tourists arrive for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games starting in July.

According to Frembassy Inc., which runs a website for people with dietary restrictions, an estimated 1.5 million of the 31.19 million foreigners who visited Japan in 2018 were either vegetarian or vegan.

But vegetarian or vegan diets have not gained widespread recognition in Japan.

Foreign visitors to Japan are saying such things as, “There are only a few restaurants that offer meals for vegetarians and vegans,” “I can’t eat Japanese food which uses fish stock,” and “Rice balls made with a pinch of salt are the only thing I can safely eat.”

Some people choose to be vegetarian to protect animals. Others do so for health or religious beliefs that prohibit the killing of living things.

While vegetarians eschew meat and fish, many people choose to be vegan and avoid eating anything containing animal protein, such as dairy products and eggs, as well.

In recent years, more people are becoming vegetarians in consideration of the impact of eating meat on the global environment.

In 2006, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations labeled methane gas produced by livestock a major cause of climate change.

Overseas vegetarian movements include Meat Free Monday, championed by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, in which people avoid eating meat on Mondays.