Vegan in Seoul (by Annie)

South Korean food is traditionally plant-based but in modern day, meat is a standard staple for a lot of dishes. This can make it hard for someone who is vegan or vegetarian to find food to eat in Seoul that is diverse and tasteful. This blog centers around being vegan in Seoul because one of my vegan friends from back home was having trouble adjusting to her new life in Korea. We hit the city and found a few delicious options to try for vegans or vegetarians (plus some more suggestions to be listed!)

Before starting, I think it’s best to suggest that all vegans and vegetarians in South Korea should learn the Korean words for egg, cheese and dairy so that they can ask the chef to exclude these things. This isn’t a perfect solution but it will save vegans and vegetarians a lot of hassle and time trying to find what they’re able to eat at restaurants.

We happened across a burger shop on our way to PLANT (which was unfortunately closed on Sundays TT) called Huggers Burgers in Itaewon. This is an all vegan restaurant from the smoothies to the veggie burgers topped in vegan cheese. My friends and I tried the basil pesto avocado burger, the double cheese burger, and the cajun french fries. I’m not a food critic but my friends and I ate those veggie burgers faster and we have ever eaten beef burger. I’d recommend this place to plant eaters and meat eaters alike. The whole bill came out to 25,000 KRW which isn’t bad for a fancy burger place.

The next place we tried was a vegan restaurant called Oh Sae Gae Hyang in Insadong. This restaurant had Korean food as well as a few Chinese and Japanese dishes all made without using any animal byproduct. The meat was replaced with soy meat and coconut oil, soy milk, and other substitutes were used for the soups. We tried the Chinese dish jajangmyeon, and a Korean sesame soup. Both noodle dishes were good but the jajangmyeon tasted exactly the same as all other versions I’ve had before of the dish. I wouldn’t have known there was anything different about it if I hadn’t walked into an all vegan restaurant. We had several side dishes to choose from as well that were all plant -based.

We had to sit on the floor at this restaurant which, I have to admit, isn’t my thing, but it was definitely a traditional Korean restaurant other than being vegan. An interesting thing about this restaurant is that you could buy vegan foods in the front of the store like it was a mini super market. So if you liked the veggie dumplings, you could take them home with you.

Finally, for dessert, we stopped at a traditional tea shop called 반짝반짝 빛나는 (no English name) in Insadong. Korean rice cakes can be found in a lot of places in Insadong which is a perfect vegan treat to go with a cup of tea. There were all different types of rice cake to be found but we we tried 한과모음(selection of Korean traditional desert/sweets…). It was just sweet enough to go perfectly with the unsweetened cup of tea the servers provided us for free. The tea my friend bought was a citron tea and it was one of the best I’d ever had. To entertain yourself, there were sketching pads that the customers could draw in and create their own masterpieces.

You can see all the finished sketching pads that previous people drew in.

There were a few more places that my friends and I wanted to see but couldn’t. We’re planning on going again but here’s a list of some others that seemed promising!

PLANT in Itaewon (This is a café with a few changing food items that many vegans in Seoul suggested. It’s a must try in the vegan community but it was closed on Sundays)

Book and Cook in Hongdae (vegan café and restaurant where you can find excellent baked goods for vegans)

PPURI on a plate in Hyehwa (vegan café with some food options sometimes)

Sanchon in Insadong (traditional temple food)


Blog by Annie Lynch

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