As a vegetarian, one of the major problems I anticipated on facing prior to arriving in South Korea is food. Like the majority of the world, most Koreans have meat in their diet. Therefore, I expected it to be difficult to find food for me to eat.
Prior to leaving, I prepared for this situation in multiple ways. I researched Korean cuisine, I learned how to say a few phrases related to this topic in Korean, and I looked into a multitude of restaurants that served vegetarian food. However, when we actually landed in Korea, the situation was what I expected yet also different at the same time. As a result of this trip, I learned a lot about how to live as a vegetarian in South Korea, and I would like to pass on this knowledge to any other vegetarian who would like to travel here.
One of the main things I learned is that Korean food can be made to be vegetarian, but it depends on a variety of aspects. One aspect is that while a meal will not have meat in its main dish, it could have meat in one of its side dishes, or vice versa. Also, whether it has meat at all depends on the restaurant it is. For instance, here at the Ewha dining hall, I usually eat their naengmyeon, a delicious cold buckwheat noodle dish that is fully vegetarian. However, when my friend and I traveled to Busan, she ordered mul naengmyeon at a mall’s food court and the broth contained beef. Since there are two main types of naengmyeon, one has to be careful which one is ordered. Therefore, make sure to research a few Korean dishes and their different types to ensure that you get the vegetarian option. If there is none, it is critical to know a few Korean phrases in order to communicate to the waiter/cashier that you want your meal to not have any meat in it.
Throughout my stay here, I have eaten at quite a lot of vegetarian-friendly restaurants. I would like to recommend a few that I have tried and have come to enjoy.
The first restaurant I would like to recommend is Salady, which is a restaurant right inside of campus. It has a variety of salads and wraps, some of which are vegetarian. One of my favorite dishes is the Cranberry Greek wrap, which is filled with ricotta cheese, olives, cranberries, lettuce, raisins, and tomatoes. A couple of the signature saladies that are vegetarian include the Tofu Salady and the Ricotta Cheese Salady.
Another restaurant I would like to recommend is near the Namsan tower, so a perfect place to eat at before visiting one of Seoul’s top tourist destination. It is the Mokmyeoksanbang restaurant, popular for its Michelin star and delicious bibimbap.
I ate dinner here before visiting Namsan, and it had a couple of vegetarian options for bibimbap that filled me up while also providing the perfect Korean dining experience.
If you are craving Mexican food like I was a couple times here, there definitely are some Mexican-themed restaurants that serve vegetarian meals. The first one is called Taco Loco in Sinchon, about a 15 minute walk away from Ewha University.
I chose the Avocado Burrito, however there are many delicious vegetarian options offered, almost one for every category.
Another Mexican-themed restaurant that I enjoyed is Gusto Taco. Many of the employees that worked there spoke English, which was a nice surprise. They also had vegetarian options for every category as well.
Since I am Indian, I’ve been missing a lot of Indian food while I am here. Therefore, I looked into a lot of Indian restaurants in Seoul, and I had the chance to stop by Indic Slow.
Since it is Indian cuisine, there were many vegetarian options available. I chose one of the lunch sets with curry, rice, and assorted vegetables.
All in all, while it’s definitely different having to find vegetarian food in a different country, it is very much doable and will result in a lot of fulfilling experiences.