Traveling is already a challenge but traveling as a vegetarian or vegan is a whole different beast. On top of navigating a different language, culture, and status quo, us vegetarians have to figure out what we can and cannot eat so we don’t end up surviving off of protein bars for a week (been there; done that; never again).
While most countries, including the United States, aren’t usually a vegetarian’s Eden, South Korea was named one of the worst countries in the world for vegans—not surprising when you take into account that most of the country’s culinary mainstays are barbecue and seafood.
So, in a country with a deep-rooted love for meat and animal products, what does a vegetarian have to do some get some grub around there?
For starters, we could visit these restaurants:
Homegrown plants and vegetables make up the menu of Sanchon, a veg-friendly restaurant in Jongno-Gu, Seoul that was inspired by Kimyunshik, a Buddhist monk who was considered to be a leader of the Korean vegetarian movement. The restaurant offers temple side dishes that change seasonally, using ingredients from the mountainous landscape in the surrounding area.
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#Sanchon , 14 Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Insadong, Seoul- South Korea is a temple cooking restaurant that is #vegetarian and #veganfriendly. What you see is the 16 courses lunch. From sweet to salty to sour, it is healthy and well balanced. Strangely this last time, i didn't like the food as it didn't taste as good as it used to. The staffs don't speak english and don't care about what you wish or/and need to ask (and it was this way the 3 times i went, different years). They won't even give it a try, so have no expectation of being warmly welcomed. I have recommended this place to several vegan people and some were disappointed as it was in their opinion, too expensive. (for what you see and some other dishes we ordered, we paid around 230$ for 3 persons) I would give a 6/10. And not recommend it. 👎 No matter how healthy and good, i believe a restaurant needs to truly appreciate their customers. . . . .
So you made it all the way to Korea, which means you’re going to eat Korean food! And luckily, Oh Se Gae Hyang, located in Jongno-Gu, Seoul, has got the goods. This casual restaurant features vegan takes on some delicious Chinese and Korean dishes, including Korean BBQ (!), naengmyeon, deongjjang chigae, soondubu, bulgogi, jampong, jjajangmyun, and tangsooyuk.
It appears that us vegetarians should stick strictly to Jongno-Gu, Seoul, because it’s currently three for three on all restaurants vegetarian. Balwoo’s menu is chock full of vegan Korean food and traditional temple food, which guests can enjoy a la cart, buffet-style, or as a 10-course meal. Table for one, please!
If this name sounds familiar to you, it’s because there might be a Loving Hut location in your backyard! The first time I visited a Loving Hut was in Seattle. This international chain first opened up Gangnam and brings some of Korea’s most popular fast-casual meals like Korean fried chicken to vegetarians and vegans.
If we can’t make it to these restaurants, we can also look for meat-free bibimbap, gimbap, somandu, gamja jon, doenjang jjigae, and jap chae on any menu.
Sure, it is harder to be a vegetarian, but there are options– and, boy, do they sound tasty!