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Travelling to South Korea as a Vegan

Apr 12, 2024 | Popular Reads, South Korea, Travel Tips

We know that finding vegan food in South Korea can be challenging, but the country is quickly becoming more vegan-friendly. Although most Korean cuisine is meat and/or seafood-based, including stocks and seasonings, there is no need to avoid it altogether. If you plan to visit this beautiful country, here are our top 5 tips to help you out.

1. Download the HappyCow app

The HappyCow allows you to search for plant-based establishments worldwide, including restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, bakeries, juice bars, and farmers’ markets.

2. Use Google Translate

Communicating dietary requirements can be difficult if you don’t speak Korean, so Google Translate will be your best friend. While there is a word for vegan in Korean, many locals may not understand it. The easiest way to communicate that you’re a vegan is to say that you’re a vegetarian (채식) and then remove the foods you cannot eat individually (meat, eggs, seafood, milk, cheese, etc.).

3. Eat Accidental Korean Vegan Dishes

There are a few Korean dishes which are vegan by accident or can easily be made vegan.

Main Dishes:

    • Bibimbap, mixed rice (make sure you say no meat or egg)
    • Gimbap, Korean Sushi (make sure you say no egg or fish)
    • Japchae, stir fry with sweet potato noodles (make sure you say no meat or fish)
    • Pajeon, spring onion pancake (make sure you say no egg or seafood)

Snacks:

    • Hobakjuk, pumpkin porridge
    • Gamjajeon, potato pancake
    • Hotteok, sweet cinnamon pancake
    • Chapssaltteok, sweet red bean rice cake
    • Songpyeon, rice cake (make sure you say ‘no honey’)

Always explain your dietary requirements when ordering any of these dishes.

There are also new vegan dishes being introduced in Korean convenience stores, such as kimbap, mandu and burgers in the CUs and 7 Elevens.

4. Join Korean Facebook Groups

Before your trip, search on Facebook for Vegan Groups, during your trip when you arrive at a new destination ask the group for recommendations.

5. Eat in Western restaurants

They are more likely to speak English and should be able to cook you a vegan dish. Indian restaurants are great for plant based dishes but check beforehand that the food is not cooked with Ghee.

Interested in visiting South Korea? Join One Life Adventures for a 10-day or 13-day tour and make lifelong friends and memories.