Alien's Day Out

Vegans moving to Korea: What to Pack?

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I’ve been receiving a few emails from vegans planning on moving to Korea, with questions on what vegan essentials to pack with them. So I figured it would be smart to just post some of my ideas here! Moving to an entirely new country can be daunting, but when you add specific dietary and nutritional needs on top of everything else, it gets more complicated and nerve-racking. Well, I’m here to help make the planning process and transition a little smoother! I’ve made a list of things you might want to consider bringing along, divided into three different categories, depending on how easy or difficult they are to find in Korea.

Clearly, it will be impossible to pack all the items I’ve listed into your suitcase (you might want to leave some space for clothes and undies), so you can be the judge of what you think you can or can’t live without. Also, ofcourse, not everything is specifically ‘vegan’, but they seem to be staples in many vegan pantries, so I have included them here. And just so you know, I have not included easily perishable foods because, well, it might not be wise or practical to pack cartons of soy yogurt or almond milk in your suitcase. :)

Also, most vegans in Korea have fallen in love with iHerb.com. I must say that their vast vegan inventory, and quick affordable shipping rates have made being vegan here infinitely easier. So even if you cannot get lara bars or nutritional yeast here, you can always have them shipped to you at a decent cost. Use coupon code ‘mip268′ for $5 off your first order.

If anyone sees anything missing from this list, lemme know! :)  Last updated July 16 2012

symbols:

* Available at certain imported goods stores in Itaewon, Seoul (ex. Foreign Food Mart, High Street Market, National Foods Mart).

^ Can be found on Korean online stores, like gmarket.com

Virtually impossible or rare to find:

amaranth
non-dairy and soy-free milk
nutritional yeast
carob chips / carob powder
Ener-G egg replacer
spelt flour
steel-cut oats
vegan mayo
hemp seeds
hemp oil
vegan protein powder
sea salt (fleur de sel)
wheat germ
wheat bran
medjool dates
vegan marshmallows
arrowroot powder
vegan protein/energy bars
vegan cheese
vegan cream cheese
nut butters other than peanut butter

Challenging to find:

flax seed oil*^
quinoa
coconut oil*
sunflower seed oil*
chai tea*^
aluminum-free baking powder*^
raw almonds
couscous*
chia seeds^
stevia^
sucanat
blackstrap molasses*^
tamarind paste*
lentils*
cayenne pepper*
allspice
poppy seeds*^
tahini*
vegan face/body products
vegan veggie broth*
liquid smoke*

Available but somewhat expensive:

rolled oats*^
B12 and other vitamins
maple syrup
agave syrup
flax seeds
*^

 

Phew, that’s a long list…. But if you only have space in your suitcase for a few essential items, I personally suggest you pack the following:

1. Vitamin B12 supplements: While you can find these at most department stores, vitamins in Korea are pretty expensive. Also, since B12 is essential for vegans, it would be wise to have a small supply with you, until you can get your bearings in Korea and find some more, whether at a department store, or by ordering it online.

2. Flax seeds: Check my previous post on flax seeds. Until you’re settled, it might be good to bring your own supply so that you don’t miss out on your Omega-3s. I just can’t imagine life without flax seeds… hehe

3. Your favorite vegan body/face products: Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to personal hygiene/beauty products, so if you have a favorite product, bring it! :) Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find specifically vegan (no animal ingredients or animal testing) products in Korea, especially when you can’t read the Korean labels.

Final closing thoughts: I know, the list of things unavailable in Korea is rather long. But stay positive! While you may not be able to find many things that you are attached to from back home, try to appreciate the fact that you will be in a brand new country, and that you will get to try out many totally new foods and products. Being vegan in a strange land can be a struggle at first, but I promise, it will get better. And after a while, you won’t even miss the Western vegan products that you might have grown attached to. There is life without vegan cheese, vegan mayo, and vegan marshmallows~

Happy packing! :)

13 Comments

  1. No mayo? That's a tragedy. Here ya go: a recipe for homemade vegan mayo… I hope you like it!

    makes about 2 cups
    1/2 c soymilk
    1/4 c olive oil
    1/4 c safflower or grapeseed oil
    1 clove garlic, minced
    2 tsp white wine vinegar
    1 tsp agave nectar
    3/4 t salt
    pinch black pepper

    Add soymilk to a blender slowly drizzle in the oils with blender still running. Blend for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, and blend for another minute. Transfer to a lidded jar- it will thicken considerably after several hours in the refrigerator. It might separate a bit, so give it a good stir before each use. The longer that you blend it, the less likely it is to separate later.

  2. *sigh* I miss Medjool Dates… (I know you can get packaged ones in Itaewon, but I'm a date snob… I miss the fresh ones!!!)

  3. I don't think the veggie broth base at the foreign food mart in Itaewon is vegan. The "Herb-Ox" vegetable bouillon cubes they sell have whey powder in them. It's the only veggie broth I've seen since I've been here. :(

  4. Wow, Beth, thanks so much for the recipe! i'll try it and let you know how it turns out. I haven't had vegan mayo in soooo long.

    xsavethequeenx,
    Hm, I guess i just assumed it was vegan. I didn't buy it, but I just saw it there and didn't bother looking at the ingredients list. Good to know, thanks. I'll change the info on the post.

  5. no prob! Definitely let me know how it goes. :-)

    Spreading the vegan luuuuv,

    Beth

  6. Lush, a western cosmetics store which can be found in myeong – dong have a wide range of vegan beauty products.

  7. Oh, I forgot about Lush! Thanks for the reminder, Sarah.
    I also heard that Skin Food and Face Shop are against animal testing, although that doesn't necessarily mean all their products are vegan. I'm gonna have to look into that further. :)

  8. THANK YOU Meeps! My husband & I have been scouring the net for 2 weeks, since we found out we're moving to Incheon in July, for info on Korean vegan-life. This list is exactly what I wanted to know! Sad to find out that I'll still be without my Tofurky, but at least I know there's a support-network :) Looking forward to meeting folks at the Seoul Veggie Club!

  9. Thanks for the list. Did you happen to bring any items in bulk through your checked baggage? I am considering bringing a 25lb bag of dried organic black beans to eat throughout the year. Would you recommend just getting a Cocso membership or would it be worthwhile to bring some from the local co-op?

    • No… I didn’t bring any bulk items in checked baggage. Organic black beans are hard to find, or are very expensive. You can get dried black beans at most major supermarkets, or for really cheap at the Foreign Food Mart, but they are not organic. I also don’t have a Costco membership so I’m not sure whether they have it there… You might want to bring some black beans, although you might have to declare it at customs. Sorry, I’m not sure of the policies and restrictions.

  10. Has anyone ever transported hemp food products to Korea? I’m seeing that hemp isn’t supposed to be brought in or out of the country on the government website, so I’m not sure if I can.

    • Hi Kirsten, hm, not too sure about the regulations on this one. I’m pretty sure that if it’s a packaged food product or supplement, it should be okay….? Maybe don’t bring a whole suitcase-full though. :P

  11. If I plan on living in Korea for awhile should I bring my juicer or blender? They would take up so much room in luggage, but will I be able to find something like a champion juicer? Or a good high speed blender?

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