Tips for Vegetarians in Korea - Part 1

Food in Korea | Visit Korea - Korea Tourism Organization

May 21, 2019



-- Vegetarian Cuisine in Korea (Part 1)--

By Korea Tourism Organization


As the number of foreigners and visitors increase in Korea, so have the travelers' expectations for food due to the increasing diversity of dietary options and health concerns. Recently, the number of vegetarian, and religious dietary cuisine options have been increasing in Korea to match this changing trends.

In general throughout the world, several restaurants and cafes make efforts to come up with vegetarian-friendly menus to meet the customer's needs. Vegetarians can be categorized into eight different types, ranging from vegans, who abstain from all animal-based products, and flexitarians, who occasionally consume meat. 


We will provide you a brief guide on how to enjoy Vegetarian cuisine in Korea, along with some recommendations and locations.




| Tips on Ordering a Menu


Unless you are going for a vegetarian-only restaurant, a majority of Korean restaurants do not have a set procedure or a manual for those who have dietary restrictions. Vegetarian travelers are advised to ask the staff upon entry about vegetarian options, or to inform the staff of their diet, and provide detailed instructions on what ingredients to exclude upon making the order.


1. Korean Cuisine (Some Examples)



- As the basic ingredients include meat, egg and gochujang (chili paste), when ordering, ask the staff to check if you can have the meat and egg removed from the dish. You can eat the bibimbap with just the vegetables and the sauce which will still taste great.


- Many traditional Korean stews, and soup dishes are made from meat or fish broth. Even Jjigaes such as Kimchi Jjigae, though it does not have meat, may have a meat-based soup. You could try making a request to prepare your order using plain water. For porridge dishes, you can easily request to exclude meat and seafood upon order.



Ham and eggs are basic ingredients that go in a gimbap, while other ingredient options include tuna or crab stick. Make sure to double check the ingredients before consumption.



2. Western Cuisine (Some Examples)



- Unfortunately burgers in Korea are not much different from those overseas, and there are some restaurants that serve hamburgers using patties made from grains and vegetables instead of meat.



Most restaurants serve pastas with meat or seafood ingredients, and sometimes the sauce themselves (even if it's tomato sauce) may have a meat-base ingredient mixed. Make sure to ask and check with the staff in advance



- Similar to Pasta, the topping or the topping sauce may have meat-based ingredients mixed. There are several vegetarian pizza menus such as basil pesto pizza, or tortilla pizza.



3. Chinese Cuisine


Jjajangmyeong, Jjamppong: 

Jjajangmyeon's basic ingredients include pork, whereas jjampong uses seafood. You can make a request to exclude any meat or seafood, and add only vegetables instead.


Dim sum / dumplings:

- Dim sum, and dumplings are filled with either seafood or meat. Though it will be difficult, as most of the dumpling meat base will be pre-made, you can request the staff to exclude meat upon order.



4. Japanese Cuisine:



- Similar to Pasta, even vegetable curry options can include cheese or cream. Always ask the staff beforehand about the ingredients.



- You could inform the staff of your vegetarian diet and ask for recommendations, but it will be difficult as the main ingredient is seafood.



Final Remark/Tips:

If you can find the number of the restaurant, make sure to call them beforehand to ask for vegetarian options. This is because most Korean restaurants pre-make and prepare beforehand their ingredients, so asking them to remove certain ingredients on the spot may make it difficult. 

Nevertheless, there are special, and popular vegetarian restaurants in Korea, that are also popular among locals and tourists. We will continue in Part 2!


You can check out our site for additional details and information.


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Visit Korea - Korea Tourism Organization

Korea Tourism Organization - Visit Korea

Visit Korea - Korea Tourism Organization

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