What to bring to Korea if you’re Vegetarian / Vegan

What to bring to South Korea if you’re veg*n

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.


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17 Responses to What to bring to Korea if you’re Vegetarian / Vegan

  1. Dorian says:

    Hey there –

    On the Diva Cup front, I believe the cup is actually meant to be used for at least a year, not six months!! I’ve been using my most recent cup for two years now with no problems, but I take pretty good care of it!!

    From the Diva Cup website:
    “Depending on the factors unique to each woman (like vaginal pH, how well and often the cup is cleaned, what cleansing agents are used, etc.), the lifespan varies. Since it is a personal hygienic product, a general guideline is to replace it once a year.
    Silicone is very durable, but we recommend that you inspect your cup regularly for signs or deterioration (such as a sticky or powdery film, severe discoloration or odor, etc.) or if you experience irritation. Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to decide when she feels it is necessary to replace the cup.”

  2. alua says:

    You cannot get vegan chocolate? None? Not even by online order? (chocoholic speaking here of course).

    • VeganUrbanite says:

      You sound devastated Alua.
      I too love chocolate, after all it is responsible for my curves. I could not go without it. You can get it sent from any number of retailers who ship to South Korea, but I’ve never seen it in a store – anywhere.

  3. l'Hipster U says:

    “Nutritional Yeast Flakes”, you say.

    “…” Im speechless.

  4. Bethany says:

    Can you get all natural almond butter or all natural peanut butter (the ones with the oil you have to mix in) in stores or do you have to order it off iherb?

  5. Elizabeth Recharte says:

    How would I get my hands on some non-dairy butter here in Korea?

  6. Katherine says:

    There isn’t any websites to order cheese replacement?

    • VeganUrbanite says:

      Hi there, I’m not completely sure I understand. What kind of cheese replacement do you mean? Do you mean faux cheese/ vegan cheese? If so, I’ve never seen or heard of any. Ordering nutritional yeast or dairy-free cheese mix online from i-herb is the closest thing I’ve heard of.

  7. What about the staples such as almond milk, tofu, and sugar in the raw?
    Also, are there markets for fresh vegetables/fruits in busan?

    • VeganUrbanite says:

      Hey, good questions. Almond milk can be found in Seoul at the high street markets and they deliver too. Tofu is everywhere, in all it’s forms, you’ll never be somewhere you can’t get it. Raw sugar too is in abundance at local grocery stores and big supermarkets. As for the markets,every area will have a street(s) dedicated to selling produce. You may find a truck selling apples parked outside your apartment or a dozen chatting grannies with fresh vegetables in red buckets. There’s no shortage.

      • Thank you.
        I have looked at quite a few posts on your blog and alien’s day out, and it appears that Seoul has quite a large vegan community. Would you agree with that?
        I am curious as to if their is a strong community in Busan?
        Glad to hear about tofu, I was banking on that.

        Excited about the possible markets at each street. I would love to walk out of my apartment and buy fresh fruits/vegetables.
        High Street market looks like a great website for items that can’t be found at local grocery stores and markets. The markets in Busan look delectable.

        How long have you been in Busan?

        • VeganUrbanite says:


          I’ve lived in Busan on and off five years, in between traveling and general exploring.
          I’m teaching at a public school at the moment but am gearing up for a change in September, when I’ll move to New Zealand for a few years.
          The Seoul vegan community is larger than the Busan community because there are obviously more people, so they have more options. But my experience with the ex-pats of Busan has been incredible. There are always fundraisers for animals or people in need, and you’ll see awareness campaigns on important social issues, plays and poetry every other week. I’m sure Seoul has that too, but I can vouch for Busan.


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