Unlike other types of vegetarian diets, veganism follows a strict plant-based diet and the entire premise is based on not using animal products. Veganism has been a growing trend in this modern world, Korea included. Some people adopt a vegan diet for animal rights and others for health or sustainability reasons.
But do Koreans eat vegan food? As you probably know, Korean barbeque is one of the most famous types of food that Korea offers. However, don’t let it be the reason to assume that Korea does not have any vegetarian or vegan friendly restaurants. It often times worries vegan tourists in Korea or make vegans to hesitate visiting Seoul but rest assured, there are plenty of options around.
In this article, we are going to check out 6 amazing vegan restaurants in Korea for all the vegans out there or anyone who wants to have a meat free meal occasionally.
The Plant (플랜트) – Vegan Food Joint in Itaewon
This hot vegan restaurant in Korea is located only 4 minutes walking distance from Itaewon station exit 4 (이태원역 4번 출구). They have vegan burritos, vegan chili cheese fries, vegan milkshakes, and even vegan Thai style curry.
This green centric cafe is very popular so even though they have ample seating, make sure to go early for lunch or dinner in order to snag a spot. We haven’t even mentioned their delicious baked goods!
Café Cook and Book (Café 쿡앤북) – Learn How to Cook Vegan Food
This restaurant is somewhere you can bring your non vegan friends and show them how flavorful vegan foods can be!
Café Cook and Book’s signature plate menus are packed with mouthwatering delicious foods such as eggplant lentil mapo tofu, vegan lasagna, engan tempeh katsu and so much more.
They are also very proud of their strict ingredient quality rules. Any dish this restaurant makes do not contain trans-fat or GMOs. The tofu, sugar, and whole wheat flour they use are all organic. The most awesome part is they get brown rice from their own farm!
This restaurant offers amazing vegan dessert classes as well. If you’re interested, make sure to book your spot in advance to learn how to take these recipes into your own kitchen.
Oh Sae Kye Hyang (오세계향) – Vegan Korean Chinese Food Heaven
Korean Chinese cuisine is one of the most popular fast food options in Korea but it is known to be a bit oily and full of pork and other meats. One of the well known Korean Chinese dishes is definitely jjajang myeon, or black bean noodles. Sadly, just like most of Korean Chinese foods, jjajang myeon (짜장면) contains pork and a whole lotta pork fat.
Here’s the place you can visit for animal product free Korean Chinese dishes! Restaurant ‘오세계향’ ,in Jonro, Seoul, offers vegan versions of various Korean Chinese foods. Vegan black bean noodles, vegan jjam-ppong (짬뽕, a spicy seafood noodle soup), vegan tang-soo-yook (탕수육, deep fried chicken or pork with sweet and sour sauce), vegan yoo-reen-ghi (유린기, fried chicken with sweet and sour soy sauce), you name it!
Vegetus (베제투스)– Italian, Spanish and Classic American Meals
Vegetus is located in taewon (이태원) and definitely targets foreign people all around the country who are visiting Korea. For those who are home sick or just want to have foods that are not Korean, this is the restaurant for you. Most importantly, this restaurant has gluten free and nut free foods as well!
They have tapas, burrito bowls, different types of Paninis, mac and cheese, different types of pastas, and burgers. Make sure to try their signature ‘Vegetus burger’ if you are clueless on what to eat there.
Other Vegan Foods and Non-Vegan Restaurants
If you’re unable to find one of the spots we’ve listed above but need to find food still, here are some common Korean foods that are safe bets for vegans.
- This mixed rice dish usually comes with sauteed or steamed veggies in a bowl of rice that you can mix spicy red pepper paste sauce into. Typically, a fried egg is on top but you can request to remove the egg which would make the rest of the ingredients non-animal products
- Kimbap are rice rolls with long strips of different ingredients inside such as egg, ham, and veggies but you can request to remove all the animal products and order kimchi kimbap for extra flavor
Although veganism is not as prevalent in Korea compared to the United States, there should still be a decent number of options if you’re traveling there. We don’t have them listed in this article, but you can also consider visiting a temple food restaurant run by Bhuddist monks. Devout Bhuddists do not consume any animal products as it is the teachings of their religion. Just do a quick search for temple restaurants in Seoul and some should come up!