Marri posted a link to this infographic and I found it really interesting - On this page, “Who Eats What” (at the very bottom), they have data on Tokyo with a note that says “we aren’t sure yet why Tokyo got such a low [healthyness] rating.”
Obviously, I have no training in stats and so I can’t begin to speculate on the science here - but what I can do is muse on my experiences with food in Japan (the plural of anecdote is data, right?).
There is meat on everything here. Seriously. I am a weekday vegetarian and I try to make healthier choices with every meal: less sugar, less salt, less animal products. But this is especially hard when everyone is gathered around a grill laden with all you can eat slices of kobe beef. And what isn’t smothered in meat has an ample dose of butter/mayonaise/sugar. My salad was actually 1/3 mayonnaise.
So when the infographic above shows Ramen and Udon, you might be picturing healthy little bowls of noodle soup. What you should imagine is a bowl a big as your head with large slices of meat floating in it. A bowl so filled with melted butter that the top of it GLISTENS with a slick of animal fat.
I’m not really being fair to Japanese cuisine. While in Kyoto, My family indulged me and we did go to a fantastic vegan restaurant (We ate delicious curry and picked vegetables which I will write more about later maybe) and I had a vegetarian boiled tofu set in Ohara which was a lot of fun because you boil it at the table. There is lots of excellent healthy, vegetarian options here in Japan. I’m just saying that when I see that in Tokyo they eat 19.1x more Udon and 27.6x more Ramen than the rest of the world - I’m no longer fooled into thinking that those dishes are by definition a healthy choice.