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A relative's doctor commanded him to eat NO meat to prevent Alpha-gal allergy, hypertension, and LDL cholesterol. His doctor says he can still eat seafood.

We don't speak Japanese, but we plan on travelling to Japan after COVID. In the 2019 EF English Proficiency Index, "Japan dropped to 53rd in global English proficiency, squarely in the “low proficiency” band." We're thinking of printing our question on paper. Then we'll email the question to restaurants if we're booking, but some Japanese restaurants play Hard-to-Get and don't accept reservations. If we're walking in, we'll show the paper to

  1. Japanese restaurant staff before we enter.

  2. and chefs who work behind the counter. kaiseki or omakase chefs pick ingredients for us, and we can't pick ingredients. I want them to see our paper just for assurance. Can someone proof read Google's translation please? Japanese Stack Exchange bans translation requests.

Sorry, I don't speak Japanese. I translated this with Google, so please forgive any rudeness.

I can't eat meat for medical reasons, but I can still eat seafood. Can I avoid meat at your restaurant? Can you guarantee not to serve me meat?

すみません、日本語は話せません。私はこれをグーグルで翻訳したので、無礼を許してください。

医学的な理由で肉は食べられませんが、シーフードは食べられます。 あなたのレストランで肉を避けてもいいですか? 私に肉を出さないことを保証できますか?

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    You can't guarantee anything - the waiter doesn't prepare your food. If the kitchen is busy, there is a big chance that the person told to prepare your meal (perhaps by a shout across the kitchen) won't get the instruction. If the diet is to be strict, with serious consequences, the solution is prepare food yourself, or by a trusted companion. – Weather Vane Oct 6 at 13:46
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    What are the consequences if your relative accidentally eats meat once? I'm assuming it's very minor, or is there some kind of allergy involved? – DJClayworth Oct 6 at 16:13
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    Would this be a better fit for Japanese SE? – RedBaron Oct 7 at 5:21
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    @RedBaron No, it wouldn't. Japanese.SE explicitly does not allow translation requests: "Direct translations are off-topic. While we are very interested in helping people who are having difficulty in their study of Japanese, we are not willing to provide a translation service for cases where a simple dictionary search combined with understanding the basics of Japanese sentence construction would suffice." – Chris H Oct 7 at 7:01
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    I translate the Japanese back to English and it says "so please be rude" and "you can't eat meat for medical reasons"... – Salman A Oct 7 at 8:22
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Please do not use Google Translate for Japanese without native speaker proofreading. The example sentences you provided are somewhere between comical and borderline offensive and sound rather like a mother scolding an unruly child (or husband).

justhungry.com (no affiliation) has a nice series of Japan dining cards that convey various dietary restrictions respectfully. Here's the one you probably want:

enter image description here

申し訳ありませんが、私は鶏肉を含めて肉類が一切食べられません。魚類は大丈夫です。

I cannot eat any meat including chicken. Fish is ok. Thank you for understanding.

Also, if you're hoping for vegetarian omakase/kaiseki, you really should let them know well in advance at time of booking, instead of expecting them to be able to improvise.

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    Is there something about Japanese culture, which makes it a larger faux pas to use a poor translation provided by an automatic translation service instead of not being understood at all? I fully realize that Google translate is often completely wrong when it comes to tone and politeness. I have however never met anyone being offended by that, but more usually people are relieved being able to communicate at least at some level. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Oct 6 at 17:51
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I think it’s more that the culture in English-speaking countries is unusual. We’re all very used to people who speak poor English, and automatically make allowances for them. Most other languages have few foreigners trying to speak them, and their native speakers aren’t accustomed to people speaking their language badly. – Mike Scott Oct 6 at 18:25
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo It's honorifics system in Japanese that make it a problem. Imagine Google translate your sentence "Could you please come here" to something like "Hey you, lowlife! Come here now!" The action asked for is the same, yet the tone is different. The first reaction of most would be a shock, and if any realizations that all that is a just a machine translation would come much later. Besides, aren't people entitled to being addressed in a polite manner? – ZenJ Oct 6 at 20:18
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica I don't think people in France will get offended by bad French. Those that feel strongly about the language much prefer being addressed in bad French then in good English (the others won't care). – Denis Nardin Oct 7 at 8:48
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    I think in any country it makes a difference whether people can see it is a computer translation or not. Pull out your phone and do the translation there and then, people understand and accept. Pull out a pre-printed text and people may not realize it is a computer translation. – Willeke Oct 7 at 10:13
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lambshaanxy's card is perfectly fine, but I would like to bring up a cultural point when asking for accommodations for your meal.

Japanese restaurants are not accustomed to altering menu items to customers' preferences. In America, you can ask McDonalds to hold the pickles on your burger, but this kind of request in Japan will often result in the employee getting permission from the manager. The same is true at any level of restaurant from street food to Michelin star. Japanese food culture focuses heavily on preparing dishes to a very specific formula that the kitchen staff often spend years perfecting. Asking them to change your dish would be like asking a classical painter to do a caricature, or a Philharmonic orchestra to play Kidz Bop.

Instead of asking for them to remove meat from a dish, ask for dishes that do not contain meat. Say something like: For health reasons, I cannot eat meat or chicken, but fish is okay. Can you recommend any dishes that meet these requirements? Thank you for understanding.

申し訳ありませんが、健康上の理由で鶏肉を含めて肉類が一切食べられません。魚類は大丈夫です。こいう物をメニューから勧めていただけますか?

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  • Some places will make alterations, so it's possible to try your luck, but they are the exception and not the rule. – John Oct 8 at 0:32
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I studied Japanese for a couple of years (ahem, a while ago). I think you may be better off with simpler statements. Asking if they can guarantee that you won't be served meat seems strongly worded to me for a Japanese context.

I looked at a few sites like this one to get some ideas.

You're much more likely to be served something with seafood in it rather than with meat (although watch out for bacon, I guess). Dashi, bonito flakes, roe (fish eggs) all get used in a lot of sauces and dishes where you might not expect them.

すみません。 肉が食べられません。

Sumimasen. Niku ga taberaremasen.

Excuse me/sorry. I can't eat meat.

魚は大丈夫です。

Sakana wa daijobu desu.

Seafood is fine.

When you're actually ordering, check whether there's meat by pointing to the item and saying:

これは肉が入ってますか?

Kore wa niku ga haittemasu ka?

Is there meat in this?

Hopefully, the server will answer something like:

肉が入ってません。

Niku ga haittemasen.

There isn't meat.

If you want a stronger statement:

お医者さんに肉類を食べてはいけないと言われました。

Oishasan ni nikurui o tabete wa ikenai to iwa remashita.

My doctor said that I can't eat meat.

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    I would go with 肉が入ってます/-ません (haittemasu/-masen) instead. Also, beware that the term 肉 tends to interpreted rather narrowly as chunks of meat, meaning that meat-based stocks, maybe even ham/bacon/sausage would not register as "meat". – lambshaanxy Oct 6 at 5:50
  • @lambshaanxy Arigatoo gozaimasu. Updated. – mkennedy Oct 6 at 15:11
  • That last sentence is rather clumsy Japanese. This is how I would phrase it: お医者さんに肉類を食べてはいけないと言われました。 – Will Oct 7 at 0:25
  • 「が」ではなくて、肉「を」食べます。 – Kaz Oct 7 at 15:10
  • @Will yeah, I thought so. Thank you very much for the correction. – mkennedy Oct 7 at 15:53
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I make this an answer, although it is not about the language but more about the culture. While there is a concept of vegetarianism in Buddhism in Japan (and you can get delicious vegetarian food at a temple which provides meals), and there are a few vegetarian restaurant (need to research them before going) outside of that it doesnt seem to exist. It is not uncommon to have even rice sprinkled with shaved meat. I went to a large international Conference in Japan and the conference served meals, so they knew that some people do not eat meat, so they provided toast with pumpkin as a replacement for every single meal.

It seems like having a little bit of meat in a dish is considered a nice gesture.

So my recommendation would be look before travelling for vegetarian/vegan restaurants, and do not expect to get food made without meat (if it happens, this is great of course)

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Reusing lambshaanxy's answer, I added a second paragraph asking politely to either remove the meat or serve a fish-based dish instead if possible.

申し訳ありませんが、私は鶏肉を含めて肉類が一切食べられません。
魚類は大丈夫です。

もしお肉が入っている料理があればお肉を除いてください。
または、可能であれば魚料理に変えていただければ嬉しいです。

It will work better in small non-busy family-owned restaurants, and ryotei if you show this when making the reservation. Chain restaurants, and places that serve only a small selection of dishes, might not be able to serve you.

Beware that a lot of soups have some amount of meat inside, but staff might not consider them as meat dishes.

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A recent news show that I was watching noted that some restaurants are now asking customers who ask for allergen free items to sign an allergen waiver, noting that removal of all allergens is impossible and that they can’t take legal/medical responsibility if you have a reaction.

Some of the translation cards I’ve seen are worded in such dire terms (anaphylaxis, etc) that a restaurant may ask you to leave rather than serving you because they do not want to risk a claim of cross-contamination. So I would find a translation card that matches your level of sensitivity and be aware that people with food allergies are not a protected group in Japan.

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