Can You be Vegan in South Korea?
Yes! It is possible to live and travel in South Korea whilst following a vegan lifestyle…as long as you prepare yourself properly with information, support and Korean phrases!
Full of excitement and expectations, I first arrived in South Korea in the spring of 2018. Having researched about veganism in the country beforehand, I believed that I had equipped myself with the correct knowledge and was all set to embark on my vegan journey.
Unfortunately, my research wasn’t anywhere near enough to prepare me. My first few months in Korea were pretty challenging. In fact, the whole of my first year was difficult. That’s why I have created this blog; to arm you with everything you need to be vegan in South Korea!
Do Koreans Eat Vegan Food?
Plant-based food is not a new concept in South Korea. Traditionally, a lot of the national dishes were vegan, but things changed over the last century as meat became more readily available. Now Korea is famous for its bulgogi and Korean BBQ. However, vegan-friendly South Korean foods still exist and some dishes are relatively easy to adapt, especially when you have access to the Korean phrases we have provided below.
What’s more, a recent health trend and a national interest in plant-based baking are fuelling a small (but quickly growing) vegan revolution in Korea. In the last few months, various companies have released plant-based alternatives to popular snacks and convenience food. For example, the local convenience stores are now selling vegan burgers and gimbap!
Why are Korean Phrases Important?
After researching Buddhist temple food before I went to South Korea, I was shocked to learn that the majority of people don’t know what veganism is. There isn’t even a word for “vegan” in the Korean language, only a newish Konglish word (fusion language – Korean mixed with English).
Explaining what I can and can’t eat has proven very challenging and, much to my dismay, I have been served many accidental dishes. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I only knew a few Korean phrases I had learnt from various blogs. Sometimes these were wrong, poorly worded or just too vague. Additionally, Google Translate just didn’t cut it (the translations aren’t always that great)!
That’s why I have gradually learnt and tested more Korean vegan phrases and I now want to share them with the rest of the vegan world! Plus, Vegan Sisters have teamed up with the wonderful Johanna Vargas to provide you with some beautifully clear illustrations. (I will be adding more Korean phrases over time, so not all of them will have illustrations!)
Scroll down to check out the vegan Korean phrases or check out our gallery of illustrations at the top of this post!
Copy and paste the Korean phrases into Google Translate and press the listen button to hear how to pronounce them.
Vegan Korean Phrases
1. I am vegan/vegetarian.
저는 비건/베지테리언 (채식) 입니다.
2. I do not eat eggs or dairy products.
저는 계란 혹은 유제품 못 먹습니다.
3. Sorry, but I don’t eat any animal products (no honey, milk, butter, cheese, eggs, meat, fish or seafood).
죄송하지만 저는 동물성 제품을 못 먹습니다. ( 꿀, 우유, 버터, 치즈, 계란, 고기, 생선, 해산물)
4. Please remove the _______.
- cheese 치즈
- honey 꿀
- milk 우유
- butter 버터
- egg 계란
- meat 고기
- fish 생선
- seafood 해산물
- mayonnaise 마요네즈
5. Is there any anchovy broth in this?
혹시 멸치액젓 들어가있나요?
6. Is there any shrimp paste in this?
혹시 새우젓 들어가있나요?
7. Do you have any vegan/vegetarian options?
혹시 비건/채식주의 옵션이있나요?
8. Please don’t serve any side dishes.
9. Do you have any plant-based milk? (soy, almond or coconut)
혹시 두유, 아몬드, 코코넛, 우유있나요?
10. Are there any restaurants that serve temple food near here?
혹시 근처에 절음식하는곳이 있나요?
11. Is this product made from animals (leather, wool, silk, cashmere, and fur)?
혹시 이 제품은 _____으로 만든 인가요? ( 가죽, 양털, 실크, 캐시미어 천, 동물 털 )
12. Is this made from fake fur?
혹시 가짜 털인가요?