10 de septiembre de 2017

Traveling to Korea as a vegan


As you might already know, I have been vegan since December 2014. And when I was planning for my one-month trip to Korea I thought I might have some difficulties related to food when visiting that country. But after my trip was over, I realized it was not really hard, if you prepare appropriately. That is why I decided to make this post, in order to help fellow vegans who might be traveling to Korea/Seoul in the near future or maybe people who might want to try some vegan options there, as well.

First of all, I planned my meals before traveling. In the end, I did not follow the exact meal plan but it gave me an idea of how much food I needed to packed and how many times I would eat out. This also helped me to prepare the budget for my trip. Since I stayed in a place where a kitchen was available for us to use, I packed food that I could enter the country and I could easily prepare there. Check out my list down below:

Hand Baggage (on the way to Seoul)
- 1 package of whole wheat cookies (each package has 8 big cookies) ~ S/.2.00 
- 3 cereal bars ~ S/.1.00 each

Check-in Baggage
- 12 packages of whole wheat cookies (each package has 8 big cookies) ~ S/.2.00 each
- 7 cereal bars ~ S/.1.00 each
- 2kg of oats ~ S/.8.00 each kg
- 4 packages (each one contains 100g) of raisins ~ S/.2.00 each
- 2 packages (each one contains 500g) of lentils ~ S/.4.50 each
- 2 packages (each one contains 500g) of green split peas ~ S/.3.50 each
- 1 package of Cinnamon powder (12g) ~ S/.2.50
- 1 package of Garlic salt powder (4.5oz) ~ S/.8.50 [I did not use it all, so I took it back with me to Peru]
- 1 package of Onion powder (4.5 oz) ~ S/.8.50 [I did not use it all, so I took it back with me to Peru]
- 1 bottle of sugar-free algarrobina (480g) ~ S/.11.00 [I did not finish it, so gave it away to my friends]
- 1 package of beans [In the end I did not have time to eat this, so gave it away to my friends]
- 1 package of flax seed flour [In the end I did not have time to eat this, so I took it back with me to Peru]
- B12 supplements (they were effervescent tablets so I drank it at night with warm water)


Since it was my first time traveling abroad, I packed lots of snacks just in case the plane food would not satisfy my hunger. But in the end, I really did not need that much since the vegan menu (2 meals for each flight) KLM gave me was very satiating and the snacks (roasted almonds) were also vegan. But I would advise you carry a couple of snacks for a trip with a long layover. For example, a pair of cereal bars would have come in handy for my eight-hour stop at Amsterdam´s airport on my way back to Peru.

Breakfast / Dinner
- Oatmeal (made with oats, cinnamon powder, raisins and algarrobina) / Preparation time: 5 minutes, 1 serving
- Lentils (made with garlic salt and onion powder) with rice / Preparation time: 30 minutes, 2 servings
- Green split peas (made with garlic salt and onion powder) with rice / Preparation time: 30 minutes, 2 servings
- Cookies with non-dairy milk
Lunch
- Meals from vegan restaurants or restaurants with vegan options
- Whole wheat cookies
- Other vegan snacks I could find in Seoul
Snacks
- Whole wheat cookies
- Cereal bars
- Other vegan snacks I could find in Seoul


During my 27-day stay, I went out almost every day. So, I had two choices for lunch: either I found a restaurant with a vegan option near the places I was visiting or I had to carry my lunch. To find vegan restaurants I used the website Happycow. And when I did not have a vegan option around, I carried cookies and cereal bars on my bag.

Vegan restaurants I visited:
  • Babione: Great food, cheap prices. Basically lots of soups in their menu.
  • OhSeGaeHyang: Great food and affordable prices. I loved their Jajangmyeon so much I came back just to eat it again.

Places you can find vegan snacks:
  • 7 eleven: They had non-dairy milks very cheap (KRW 1250 each), such as Breeze almond milk (regular, banana and chocolate flavor) and Maeil soy milk (regular, banana and chocolate flavor). They also had Oreos from Thailand that were vegan (KRW 1800 each). Do take note that Korean Oreos are NOT vegan. Additionally, I found vegan croissants and crackers on sale. 
  • CJ E&M Center: When my friend and I attended Mnet Countdown, we were shocked to find vegan options in the cafeteria there. And it was not just tea! They actually had oat milk, lentil salad, juices, lattes and smoothies.
  • LOHB: They had various vegan snacks. Basically you have to look for the foreigner products (with English ingredients list). I purchased some chocolate creamy cookies and salt crackers for KRW 1500 each.
  • CGV: Their sweet popcorn does not contain butter, so it is vegan.


Also, Seoul has cafes almost everywhere.  They always have teas and herbal teas as options. So I would order some tea and drink it with my cookies. When it comes to restaurants, as long as you can find a waiter that speaks English you can request a dish without animal products (for example bibimbap without egg and meat). Just be careful of the spicy dishes, since they are really hot.

When it comes to whole foods, you can find them in the markets or supermarkets. But be aware that fruit is usually expensive (for example, one banana can cost $1), at least in comparison with Peru.

Since it was winter when we visited the country, I made sure I was never hungry so I would not get a cold or other disease.  Actually I thought I would gain weight for the amount of food I was eating during my trip. But, I think, since I was walking a lot every day and it was really cold, I did not gain any weight. 

As a last note I would like to clarify that my main reason to visit Korea was not to try out the food, but to shop and visit as many places as possible. So my main expenses were not destined to food, and when I had to, I focused on cheap options. But, if you want to try more Korean dishes, you can definitely visit more vegan restaurants that have the traditional dishes made vegan. Definitely check out Happycow webpage for more options. 

I really enjoyed my trip to Korea. And I think you might enjoy it as well. Hope this post helped you somehow. I posted the pictures of all my vegan findings on my Facebook Page. You can check it HERE. If you have any additional question, you can leave it down below.

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