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A Vegetarian in a Meat Eaters Paradise
Susan Webster, Professor  |  ysrest@jj.ac.kr
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승인 2019.04.18  14:47:01
트위터 페이스북 미투데이 네이버 구글 msn

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By Susan Webster, Professor

While there is increasingly more awareness surrounding vegetarianism in Korea, by many it is still a concept that meets resistance and a lot of confusion. “You’re a what? What do you eat? Where do you get your protein? You can eat chicken though, right?” Or in a Kimbap shop, “Why no ham? Ham isn’t meat.” That one always makes me chuckle because they aren’t far wrong. Thankfully though, these questions are becoming more infrequent as people are becoming better informed about nutrition, and life as a vegetarian in Jeonju is actually, believe it or not, much easier than being vegetarian in the UK.

Whichever healthy lifestyle you choose to live, it’s important to approach it with flexibility and an open mind. To have patience and to realise that not everyone knows what being a vegetarian means is essential. But, with a kind hearted approach we can help educate people and make it less difficult for future vegetarians.

While I choose to be vegetarian or most of the time, ‘flexitarian’ or pescatarian (people who don’t eat land animals but eat seafood), it’s unfortunately impossible to eat meat free 100% of the time. There will always be awkward social situations where you have no control over where you eat and sneaky bits of meat manage to wriggle their way onto your plate. Therefore, employing more flexibility and practicing patience removes a lot of stress in social situations. The stress to your body is actually more harmful that a sprinkling of bacon on your salad, so just take a deep breath and let it go.

So, how can a vegetarian survive in a meat eaters paradise?

No matter where you live in the world, being a health conscious vegetarian can be a challenge. Do some research, learn about nutrition and about local produce that there is not so much access to in other countries. For instance, kelp and various seaweeds pack a load of essential vitamins for vegetarians. If you eat eggs, then try to find a local farmer with free range chickens ― it’s possible to get them delivered to your door. Otherwise, look out for the animal welfare boxes ― mall scale farmers seem to be best. Also, join the vegetarian communities on Facebook and find out all the great places that do cater to the needs of vegetarians. There are so many active and very knowledgable communities who know the best restaurants to visit.

For me, eating out in Korea, is not too difficult. Despite the fact that Koreans have an insatiable appetite for meat dishes and while fish has always been apart of their staple diet, there are so many amazing Korean dishes that are vegetarian friendly by default. I’m lucky that I love traditional Korean cuisine such as Hanjeongsik ―Korean full course meal with unlimited nutritious delicious side dishes. Then of course there’s Bibimbap! Perfect in summer and winter. And of course, Gongnamulgukbap is an amazing winter warmer. A few other favourites of mine include, Naengmyeon, Kimchijeon, Pajeon, Kimbap & Kalguksu ― while not as nutritious as the first few on the list, they are still perfectly suitable for vegetarians. There are so many comforting, nutritious, pantbased dishes available, you just have to be willing make a gamble, or try to enjoy the food and then learn how to make it at home ― some dishes are based on surprisingly simple ingredients.

Even if your Korean skills are limited, with some good will, hand gestures and a few basic tricks you will quickly learn not just how to survive but, even better, to indulge in Korea’s culinary delights.

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