How to Survive as a Vegetarian in South Korea

South Korea, where probably 80% of diet consists of meat or seafood, finding vegetarian friendly restaurants is quite a difficult task. If you live in the Hanyang dormitory, or anywhere without a kitchen, then this may just be the guide for you. Below are some tips and tricks to find food at convenient places in South Korea. The purpose of this guide is NOT to provide information on vegetarian restaurants, but to lay out the vegetarian options for you at regular Korean food places.


Where can you find vegetarian food in the Hanyang student residence?

 If you live in the Hanyang International Dormitory (without a kitchen), then you’ll likely be worrying over what to eat for your next meal.

Inside the student residence hall, you can find a café, cafeteria and a convenience store. Most of the food offered in the cafeteria consists of Korean meat dishes, but you can always purchase a food ticket for just the dishes (kimchi, radish, bean sprouts, rice, etc) at the food machine. The cafe just outside the cafeteria sells “cheese vegetable sandwich”, which is, unfortunately, the only vegetarian food option on the menu. The café also sells fresh fruit drinks, in case you ever feel like you’re low on your vitamin c intake.


What can you buy at a convenience store?

Surprisingly, there are a lot of simple vegetarian foods you can purchase at the convenience store. (such as CU, GS25, and etc).

In most South Korean convenience stores, you can usually find bread, cheese strings, nuts, packed kimchi, and instant rice. If you microwave the instant rice for 2 minutes, it’ll taste exactly like regular cooked rice. Some convenience stores also sell boiled eggs, instant vegetable porridge and ramyun.

Note: do not purchase the rice balls packed in seaweed or any sandwiches in the convenience stores. All of them have meat or seafood.

instant rice

Instant rice

Vege porridge

Vege porridge













What can I eat at Korean restaurants?

Note: Ham is assumed to be in many Korean dishes, even if you don’t explicitly tell you in the description.

At most Korean restaurants, these are the dishes you can probably order without meat:


– Chap-jae – a Korean dish made from sweet potato noodles stir-fried in sesame oil with vegetables

– Kim-chi-jji-gae – a stew-like Korean dish, made with kimchi and tofu (spicy)

– Kim-chi-kim-bap – a popular Korean dish made from white rice and various other ingredients, rolled in seaweed (quite similar to sushi).

– Kim-chi-jeon – Korean pancake-like dish, primarily made with sliced kimchi, flour batter and other vegetables

– Bi-bim-bap – a bowl of warm white rice topped with vegetables

Warning: some restaurants do make these dishes with meat, so you should confirm with your waiter using the phrases below.




kimchi chigae

Kimchi chigae











Useful phrases you should use when ordering Korean dishes

– 햄 빼고 주세요(Haem Ppaego Juseyo): Please take out the ham

– 고기 빼고 주세요(go-gi ppae-go ju-se-yo): Please take out the meat

– 고기 들어있어요? (go-gi deu-reo-i-seo-yo): Is there meat inside?


By Sharon from Canada


  1. Koh Jit Woon says:

    Omg you are a lifesaver. Thank you!

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