Happy Saturday friends! It’s been a dark and dreary week in Seoul, and the cafe has been super chill most days. :) I love when it’s busy, but I also love it when it’s just quiet and I get to space out and blog.
I was thinking about what to blog about and realized that this month is my 5-year vegan anniversary! If you include being vegetarian, it’s been almost 7 years of living a plant-based life~~ woah. So to mark this occasion, I’ve decided to take time to answer some common questions that I get asked. I get quite a lot of emails from people with a lot of similar questions, so I figure I’ll just post my answers up here. For some, I’ve just copied my answers that I gave in previous interviews, so sorry if it’s a repeat for you. Here goes:
When did you go veg and why?
I first went vegetarian in late 2006 and then committed to veganism in September 2008. :) I first stopped eating meat because of environmental reasons. Going vegetarian was a way for me to reduce my carbon footprint and try to live more sustainably. But the more I learned about the suffering that goes on in the meat, dairy and egg industries, the harder it was for me to justify the action of eating animals and their products. Ultimately, compassion for animals is the main reason why I am vegan.
What kind of camera do you use?
I use a Canon S95 Powershot for nicer food photos, and my trusty iphone camera for regular random eats. I would love to have a DSLR, but I like something more portable and accessible. Most photos get edited in Lightroom to adjust the lighting and contrast, before posting.
Do you make money from this blog?
No. The blog is sustained through the bake shop. Until now, I have resisted placing outside advertisements on the blog, but this may change in the future as the cost of maintaining and hosting the website adds up. If you would like to support the blog, you can order some goodies from the bake shop or visit PLANT. :)
What kind of oven do you use?
Both of my ovens are Wiswell electric ovens that I ordered from Gmarket. The one on the right is the first oven I bought in Korea back in 2007, and I’m still using it every day at the studio/cafe. It has crapped out on me a few times in the past, but I’ve been able to get it fixed at the service center. It’s not very big– basically a larger toaster oven– so sometimes the heat is too close to the food that the tops and bottoms get over-browned, but I make it work.
And then earlier this year, I finally bought a second electric oven (on the left) which is slightly bigger and it’s cranking out some yummy baked goods at the studio. The temperature dials are inaccurate, so I have a separate oven thermometer. Neither ovens are glamorous or industrial size, but so far, they are serving me well.
Does Alien’s Day Out Bake Shop have a storefront or offline shop?
I can finally answer YES to this question! You can find the Alien’s Day Out shop at PLANT cafe/studio in Itaewon. More info on the PLANT FB page.
Is PLANT or Alien’s Bake Shop hiring?
Not at the moment, but if/when we are looking for a part timer, we will announce it on the FB page and/or twitter (@itaewonplant)!
I’m visiting Korea soon. What are your top recommendations for veg*an restaurants/cafes?
Garobee vegan buffet in Gangnam
Slobbie restaurant in Hongdae
Gam Lo Dang or Sanchon (temple food)
PLANT studio/cafe in Itaewon (vegan drinks, cookies & cake, meals)
Botton Cafe in Itaewon (vegan drinks, cookies, etc)
Coffee Libre in Itaewon (one of the best roasters in Seoul)
How often do you workout and what do you do?
Before opening the shop, I used to workout 4-5 days a week. Now that the cafe takes up most of my days, I’m lucky if I can work out twice a week. I run on the treadmill and also take boxing/mma classes at my MMA gym. When the weather is nice, I’ll also go for an outdoor run.
What are your fastest running times?
5k PR was 27:07
10k PR: 53:25
These times were when I was running much more, and I am considerably slower and out of shape now! haha. I used to be a bit fanatical about it, but I’ve chilled out a lot and don’t stress out about running times and distances these days.
Fruit and veggies are so expensive in Korea! Where do you buy your produce?
I get the majority of fresh fruit and vegetables at my neighborhood shijang (open market). It’s far cheaper than going to a supermarket or department store, especially if you stick to seasonal items. Practically every neighborhood in Seoul has a market where residents can get cheaper produce~~ you just have to figure out the closest one to you. And if you are Korean-internet savvy, you can order bulk produce online and have it delivered to your doorstep.
Where can I get tempeh, jackfruit, liquid smoke…?
The Foreign Food Market in Itaewon.
Where can I get vegan kimchi?
You can order vegan kimchi online from vegeland.com (link here).
Or you could also check out one of the Loving Hut restaurants as they sometimes sell some vegan kimchi along with veggie meats. I think Garobee Buffet might also sell some vegan kimchi.
Where can I get quinoa, almond milk, peanut flour, lara bars… all of my pantry essentials from back home?
I highly recommend checking out iHerb.com. They have everything from dandies marshmallows and coconut oil, to organic baking extracts, to vegan protein powder. It is where I get all my favorite vegan items that are impossible or too expensive to buy here in Korea. Shipping rates are also incredibly reasonable, and deliveries usually arrive within a week. Use my coupon code (MIP268) for $10 off your first order.
Do you still paint/do illustrations? Will you do another illustrated calendar for next year?
Sadly, I’ve been far too busy to do any drawing lately. I really miss it, but I’m too focused on the cafe/shop/studio to do much art on the side. Since I don’t have any new illustrations, there probably won’t be a new calendar for sale next year. Unless a miracle happens.
If y'all have other burning questions, write a comment and I'll do my best to answer them.