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How easy is it to be a Vegetarain in Seoul???
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Micahoz



Joined: 18 Apr 2003
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 8:37 am    Post subject: How easy is it to be a Vegetarain in Seoul??? Reply with quote

Hello:

I've accepted a position with Hagwon. After reading many of your posts...for hours it seems...I am quite excited. Korea seems like a crazy world and the prospect of working with kids seems like it will be fun. I've lived in the both Turkery (3 years) and in Thailand (1 year) and found being a vegetarian pretty easy. So, I am wondering realistically how easy will being a vegetarian be???

Thanks for your repsponse...
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kylehawkins2000



Joined: 08 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It can be extremely difficult to be a vegetarian in Korea. In Seoul you'll find it easier than in a smaller town. Their are dishes without meat but many places will not have maincourses without meat. One of the big problems is cultural. Most of the Koreans of spoken to do not understand the reasoning behind being a vegetarian and thus restaurants tend to not be willing to do anything special to meet your needs.

I was a lacto-ova vegetarian when I first went to Korea but I soon resumed eating fish to make life a little easier. It will take some time to find vegetarian dishes and learn thier names but you can do it eventually.....it just isn't as easy as in other countries.
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The Great Wall of Whiner



Joined: 24 Jan 2003
Location: Middle Land

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually I have to disagree. It is quite easy if you cook for yourself. If you are going out to eat every night, then there are obsticles in your quest to avoid eating all things that have a brain.

However like I said, if you cook for yourself, there should be absolutely no problem what-so-ever.
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half_pint



Joined: 16 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kyle is right, it isn't easy. When you are ordering food at a restaurant, it is important to remember to specify no meat, no chicken, no ham, no fish, no seafood. (I don't know the Korean for any of these off-hand, sorry - but it will be easy to find out once you get here!) Just saying "I'm a vegetarian" usually isn't enough. My boss came into work one day with a pizza especially for a vegetarian friend at work. He announced proudly that it was especially for her, and had "No meat! Only ham!" The biggest problem seems to be ordering "vegetarian" soups and finding shellfish in it. There are a few vegetarian friendly restaurants in Seoul, and I will try to get some names and good directions for you.

If you like to cook, bring your favourite spices with you, and you will be able to make quite a bit of stuff at home. This is really the safest and easiest way to be a vegetarian here. You will find tons of produce and tofu at grocery stores. If you like chickpeas, try to bring some dried ones with you - I have not been able to find chickpeas here.

If you like hiking and have the chance to get out of the city, you can eat at temples where everything is vegetarian and the food is delicious.

Good luck!
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Micahoz



Joined: 18 Apr 2003
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 10:03 am    Post subject: Brown Rice Reply with quote

Is brown rice available?
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kylehawkins2000



Joined: 08 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In response to Great Wall's post:

I was assuming that the post was in regards to eating out, not cooking for yourself. Of course if you are cooking for yourself it is easy to not eat meat....simply don't put it in your food right?

Here are some phrases you might want to try. SOrry I can't type Korean Characters on this computer. THis is my best attempt at romanizing the words....I'm bound to make horrible mistakes here....feel free to correct me.

1. I'm a vegetarian (literally 'I eat a vegetable diet as a matter of principle)
Korean: Na nun chae shik joo-ee ja

2. Do you have any vegetable dishes?
Korean: Ya chae yo ri ga isseyo?

3. I don't eat Meat. (Meat = 'gogi')
Korean: gogi muk ji an sumnida

4. I don't eat fish (fish = mulgogi, seafood = hae san shik poom)
Korean: mulgogi muk ji an sumnida
or: hae san shik poom muk ji an sumnida
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kylehawkins2000



Joined: 08 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some dishes that don't contain meat:

1. "Bibimbap" (rice and veggie mix in a stone pot) This sometimes has ground beef in it so ask for it without meat.

2. "Kimbap" (aka 'california roll') there are many varieties. Most have a fish or meat. You can ask for it without either if you want. If you eat fish try the Tuna Kimbap (chamchi kimbap)

3. "Naeng myon" (cold noodles, sometime served with ice, in water with vegetables and red pepper paste)

4. Kong Na Mul gug su / kong na mul Hae jang guk (bean sprout soup)

5. Baek ban (an assortment of side dishes served with rice and often with soup)

I often would go out to eat with friends and just order meat and let them eat it. Most meals are served with a wide assortment of side dishes which do not contain meat. Tofu is often included. Most places will not serve just the side dishes without the meat. If you are eating alone it is quite difficult. I've been told to leave and eat elsewhere in such cases becuase they were not willing to accomodate me.

I would suggest getting to know some koreans and treating them to a few meals while they translate some of the menu for you. Find some restaurants you know and like (and understand their menu) and go there.
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kylehawkins2000



Joined: 08 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just thought of a few others

Try these:

1. Kimchi Mandu (Chinese style dumplings with Kimchi in the filling.

2. Kimchi Bokembap (Fried rice with Kimchi)

3. Ya chae Bokembap (Fried rice with Vegetables)

4. Dwen Jang Ji Gae (spicy soup, often made with fish or meat broth. Best to ask before ordering if you can.)

5. Soon Dooboo ji gae (like dwen Jang Ji gae, but has tofu in it. Also best to ask about this one before ordering)

Tofu is widely availalbe in Korea but it is difficult (impossible?) to find Textured Soya Protein (TSP) or textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), it is also next to impossible to find the mock meats (such as Yves Cuisine products) in Korea.

Bean, nuts, legumes, and eggs are readily available in most grocery stores.
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kylehawkins2000



Joined: 08 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brown rice is not common. I have not seen it in the grocery stores but it may be available in speciality stores.

Most Koreans eat a short grain variety of rice that is very gloutanous (sticky rice). You can find other grains and beans to mix in with the rice at the grocery store but it is hard to find other varieties of rice such as basmati, etc.
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schwa



Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Location: sokcho

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For brown rice, try any Nong-Hyeop Bank (farmers co-op). As far as I know every branch has a small whole foods display & counter, & theres a branch in every neighborhood & town.

Another useful restaurant phrase: Gogi nachi ma-sae-yo (Please leave out the meat). A lot of dishes are made-to-order & its no big deal in the kitchen to omit one ingredient.

That said, quite a few dishes contain 'dashima' or equivalent -- powdered beef or anchovy stock. Kimchi, in fact, is customarily prepared with shrimp or anchovy brine. Short of always eating at home (& missing out on a lot of fun), its a bit tough to be a strict veggie here.
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Micahoz



Joined: 18 Apr 2003
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 3:13 pm    Post subject: Thanks!!! Reply with quote

One thing that I've noticed about this board is that there is a lot helpful and friendly people. Thanks so much. I am coming to Korea soon 5/3 and hope that this board is a reflection of what I find amongst the ESL teachers.

Thanks again!
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The Great Wall of Whiner



Joined: 24 Jan 2003
Location: Middle Land

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found brown rice in Carrefour, Grand Department Store, and Wal-Mart.

3 places to look...
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half_pint



Joined: 16 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kimchi mandu is quite tasty, but be careful with it - most restaurants still include pork in the filling. There are some restaurants in Seoul that use bean paste instead of pork.

Thanks everyone who mentioned where to find brown rice. I've been looking for it too.
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chi-chi



Joined: 15 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mods you may delete

Last edited by chi-chi on Sat Jul 30, 2005 7:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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mokpochica



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 9:50 pm    Post subject: my two cents Reply with quote

I think it's quite hard to be a vegetarian if you want to really eat Korean food in Korea. I tried it for a few months and quickly decided to start eating seafood. If you want to eat Korean food out at all you are going to find meat often--even in the non-meat dishes Kyle was talking about. Koreans don't eat a lot of meat in many of their dishes, but it's often in the broth or in tiny little pieces you can barely see. Even the majority of Korean kimchi has fish stock so it's not really vegetarian.

I think you will have to compromise a lot in Korea, which means by most vegetarians' definitions, that you won't be a true vegetarian. Even when I was trying to eat only vegetarian food, I had to dodge little chunks of meat in things and I know that I ate meat broth by mistake on more that one occasion. Even though Koreans don't eat a lot of meat, they use fish stock, meat stock, and ground up little creatures in tons of their main dishes and vegetable side dishes.

I found that eating only seafood was a good compromise for me because there were always a lot of choices, but even that choice inconvenienced friends and co-workers at times. I'm not any kind of vegetarian anymore (a hard choice after 5 years of not eating meat) and the advantage I find to that is that I have really been able to try all kinds of new foods without being stressed about what is in the dish. And I lost about 20 pounds eating Korean food--even after I added seafood and some meat to my diet--so it is very healthy.
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