People have been asking us ‘What’s it like for a vegetarian in Korea?’ or ‘What are vegetarian options in Korea’ ever since we started doing LIKE IT videos. No question about Korea is TOO DIFFICULT, but this was one we have avoided until now. And honestly, we have less direct experience with this topic mainly because we are not vegetarian. But we still can talk about what it might be like here.
Do we know vegetarians in Korea? Not many. One of my friends who came over here to teach English years ago came over as a vegetarian. She basically gave it up after several months because it became too difficult. She still cooked only vegetarian at home, but when out with friends and co-workers she would just eat whatever the group was eating. I’m not exactly sure why, but probably because it became too difficult to ask for a special meal every time.
If you’re from a western country, then you’re familiar with each person ordering their own dish. There are also Korean restaurants like this, but they are less common. Usually, everyone enters a restaurant to eat the same meal, and ordering something other than what the group is eating is almost entirely not part of the so called recipe. This is where we think a vegetarian might have a problem.
Are their vegetarian only restaurants in Korea? We are SURE there are. However, most plates and dishes usually have a meat ingredient these days. This may be because, historically, Koreans had less meat options. These days it’s the opposite, and nearly everyone we know eats meat. Of course there are vegetarians and vegans in Korea, but it’s less publicized and popular than in western countries.
Our suggestion for vegetarians and/or vegans coming to visit or live in Korea: prepare enough Korean to ask questions about dishes you plan to eat out at restaurants. This may be the key to successful survival and enjoyment in Korea for those planning not to eat meat. Also do enough research in advance about which meals are vegetarian so it may make it easier to choose options once you are here.
Last week’s LIKE IT video