Toronto event promoted vegan cuisine
The Korea Tourism Organization is reaching out to those who believe in dining in a way that’s compassionate to Mother Earth while touring the planet, with that eating lifestyle having entrenched itself centuries ago in Korea.
The KTO held a Nov. 29 Toronto event dubbed Green Korea, focusing on sound environmental practices and vegan dining in Korea, with the tourism organization’s Hillary Nguyen stating that there has been a sizeable increase in the numbers of Koreans adopting veganism in recent years.
“It’s definitely growing. There’s been a big jump,” she said, adding the country of some 51 million people now has around 2.5 million vegans. “Veganism is a global trend and South Korea is no stranger to that.”
Vegan diets were relatively uncommon in Korea prior to the turn of the century, although vegan food has long been available in Buddhist temples.
Growing Korean interest in vegan diets matches rising international appreciation of that lifestyle, she continued, with Koreans who switch to plant-based diets doing for such reasons as animal welfare, health concerns and fears about environmental degradation linked to the meat industry.
Those attending the Toronto event were served Korean vegan dishes, such as kimchi — a Korean staple — atop tofu.
The KTO used the evening to distribute a thick guide to vegan dining options in Korea.
The KTO recently held a fam trip for vegans, showcasing plant-based dining options that are available in the Korean country. Participants included Sarah Fay of VegTO, a Toronto group promoting veganism, who went on the trip and reported she and her co-travellers enjoyed “great food, great experiences. We ate lots of vegan Korean food and it was amazing.”
Fay said her group at one point ate in a Buddhist temple and was “blown away by how amazing the food was.”
She and her group made kimchi with Seong Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan, who has built an international following in part by having appeared on Netflix’s Chef’s Table
Those opting for temple stays can experience the likes of meditation and tea ceremonies.
Fay provided a couple of tips for other vegans planning to visit Korea, such as having oat milk on hand if they don’t like black coffee and being careful that seemingly vegan dishes don’t contain fish sauce.
Fellow VegTO member Kimberly D’Oliveira in turn praised Korea for becoming the second country in the world to launch a national plant-based food plan, a move she praised as “visionary.” The plan is aimed at boosting plant-based food production, and involve training chefs on preparing vegan meals, and encouraging plant-based diets in the education system. It also calls for increasing exports of locally produced vegan food, while also investing more money for related research and development.
Director of the KTO Toronto office Jane Kim said rising Korean interest in vegan lifestyles isn’t surprising: “We really do care about the environment.”
The Korean government is tackling such issues as food waste, she added.
The evening also featured Korean calligraphy, crafts, Zen meditation and a traditional music performance by Haneum.
Meanwhile, Nguyen praised Korea for other attributes, “such as its “breathtaking scenery,” its blend of “traditional and modernity” and it being ‘super easy to get around.”
Nguyen added that Korea ofers great hiking and trekking, and 80% of the country is mountainous.
Bullet train travel is available for those wanting to explore the country, she said.
In the photo: Hillary Nguyen of the Korea Tourism Organization, Sarah Fay and Kimberly D’Oliveira of VegTO, and Canadian KTO director Jane Kim stand beside some of the vegan Korean food served at the Green Korea event