Be it comfort food, nutrition or pleasure seeking indulgence. There are a few things difficult for vegetarians and vegans to obtain in South Korea. Here are few suggestions on what to bring on your visit – or extended stay – to South Korea.
1. Marmite / Vegemite. Yes, they are vegan as well as being high in vitamin B12, brimming with salty goodness and in my opinion delicious. They say you either love it or hate it. But in my house marmite is king of the breakfast table. Not available in Korea.
2. Vegenaise. I have never seen this in Korea. There is a homemade variety you can find at Loving Huts in Busan, but if you’re faithful to your favourite brand you’ll need to slip it in your bag. Not available in South Korea.
3. Deiya Vegan Cheese. Perfect on pizza and in Vegeburgers. Sorry guys, but this staple is also unavailable in Korea. Not available in South Korea.
4. Nutritional Yeast Flakes. Not to be confused with brewers yeast. Before I found nutritional yeast flakes I was always stumped when asked, “but what about cheese?” Eaten on a pizza or in a lasagna, nutritional yeast is a must have kitchen item. You can buy online at iherb.com (use HUP655 for $5 discount)
5. Soy Curls. I’ve never tried these myself, but I’ve heard they’re perfect in a spaghetti or a stir fry. As they store well and are light to post, why not bring some with you. Not available in South Korea.
6. Sundried Tomatoes. Dried or packed in oil they are hard to get and very expensive if you find them. The dried variety are always the easiest and lightest to post to yourself or order online. You can buy at Itaewon foreign market (Seoul), iherb.com, kitchenjj.com (KR) , cheesemaret.co.kr (KR)
7.Tahini. Essential in Hummus. Others substitute peanut butter or sesame oil in place of tahini, but I think you can taste the difference. You can buy it at Itaewon foreign market or online at iherb.com
8. Spices. Depending on what you like to cook, you may find that bringing a few spices could save you money. Cardamom, anise and sage come to mind, spices for malt wine can not be found in Korea and most others are very expensive. Cubed vegetable stock is available but it’s very expensive too ($8 for 8 1 liter cubes). Purchase from Itaewon’s foreign market (Seoul), Asian Market in Sasang (Busan) or online at iherb.com
9. Quinoa. Containing essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron this grain is a must for vegans. Available from iherb.com only.
10. Faux Leather boots/ jackets. If your feet are larger than 250 (woman) or 265 (men) you’ll have a tough time buying shoes to fit your feet. That being said faux everything is available in Korea if you’re the right size. Tall or curvaceous, you’ll need to stock up beforehand or become acquainted with some online sites.
11. Vegan chocolate. Not essential but a nice treat. You can not get in Korea
12. Lip balm/ moisturizer without sebum. I have found specialty items at Innisfree without sebum but they are not always available year round. My suggestion is to stock up before you leave. Available at Innifree or online
13. Applicator free- tampons (super). Most Korean woman opt for thick pads or plastic engulfed petit tampons. I have seen organic super tampons in chemists which are imported and the price reflects that ($11 for 12). You can not get in Korea.
14. Diva Cup/ Moon Cup/ Luna Cup. This body, earth and pocket friendly cup replaces tampon use in an environmental friendly fashion. One cup (~$30 US) can be used for up to 12 months! You can buy them in many pharmacy, supermarkets or health stores in North America or Europe. Buy online in Korea at G.Market
If there are more items you are curious about, please leave a comment and I will do my best to find a retailer or tell you otherwise. Similarly, if you know of a place which sells any of the above products, please share.