Image: Vegetarianism campaign by Buddhist Environmental Alliance. Credit: Buddhist Environmental Alliance.
Vegetarianism and veganism are increasingly popular in South Korea, especially among the Millennial generation and younger. In a recent survey of people between the ages of 15 and 40 by University Tomorrow 대학내일, 9% were either vegetarian or vegan, and an additional 27.4% were “flexitarians” - eating meat only occasionally.
Thus far, South Korea’s market for vegetarians and vegans has been tiny: there are fewer than 400 restaurants nationwide that are vegan friendly, according to one estimate. But as the younger generation is increasingly embracing vegetarianism and veganism, the market has been growing along with them across all segments.
Five star hotels of Seoul, including Grand Intercontinental, Park Hyatt and Westin Josun, have rolled out special vegan menus in their restaurants. Sheraton Walker Hill went so far as to make a vegan suite, replacing goose down and leather couches with plant-based comforters and mock leather made of paper. At the mass market level, convenience stores like 7 Eleven are introducing quick vegan meals, including pasta, salad, veggie burger and vegetarian gimbap 김밥 rolls.