Korea has a lot of great food but sometimes it can be tough to find certain types of food if you have dietary restrictions. This article will not focus on recommending specific restaurants. Instead, it will teach you how to search and find these types of restaurants. This will give you allow you to find restaurants close to you or even find hidden gems. Today, I will be covering 2 different ways to find vegan/vegetarian food in South Korea.

1) Use the HappyCow App

HappyCow App logo
HappyCow App

HappyCow is an app available on Apple App Store and Google Play Store. This app helps users to find vegan or vegetarian food options near them. The app is able to keep its information updated through community contributions. HappyCow has pretty abundant information on vegan/vegetarian food in South Korea so that’s great news.

After logging in to the app, straight away you will be able to see a map with pins all over it. Each pin represents a shop or restaurant in that location.

HappyCow app map interface
You will be able to find vegan or vegetarian food near you easily.

Slide the bottom panel up and you will reveal more information about each pin on the map. Filter the options according to your dietary needs. 3 main options are available to you, namely ‘Vegan’, ‘Vegetarian’, and ‘Options’. ‘Options’ is basically a filter for shops that offer vegan or vegetarian options amongst other meat dishes.

HappyCow app options page
Filter your options to get more personalised recommendations

This method of finding vegan/vegetarian food is probably one of the easiest ways so use this method if you prefer a fuss-free way.

One thing to note is that the app may not be widely used by the locals so you might miss some hidden gems that are well-known among locals.

So that is why you should try out the next method.

2) Use Naver Maps Search

Naver Maps icon
Naver Maps

Naver Maps is a well-known map app among locals and is available on Apple App Store and Google Play Store. I use Naver Maps more than Google Maps in Korea just because the information there is more complete.

One downside of Naver Maps is that you should know how to type in Hangul in order to unlock Naver Maps’ full search potential. Typing English characters is fine, just not as complete as searching using Hangul. If you are interested to learn some Hangul, you can take a 2-hour online course here. I can guarantee that this one skill can bring you far in your Korea travels.

Once you open the map, start searching using the search bar on top. You can search either ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’.

Naver Maps Vegan Search
Search ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’

Straight away, Naver Maps will zoom in onto a business named ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ in some random location; that’s not what we want.

Instead, move the map to the location that you are nearby and hit the ‘Search Here’ button at the top.

Naver Maps Search Here Button
Press the ‘Search Here’ button at the top

This will reveal shops related to the search term that are located within your prescribed area. Hit the ‘List’ button to reveal more details of each pin.

Naver Maps List Button
Press the ‘List’ button to reveal more details of the pins

You can even see review scores for some of the listings. This can help you to find hidden gems that are known to locals only.

Naver Maps Shop Review Score Page
See reviews of the shop before heading down

As mentioned before, you should try typing in Hangul to unlock Naver Maps’ full search potential. Try copy and pasting 채식 (which means vegetarian) or 비건 (which means vegan) and you might get different results compared to searching in English.

One disadvantage of using Naver Maps over HappyCow is that the filtering of options may not be as accurate. You may search ‘vegetarian’ on Naver Maps but it may show you shops that sell meat dishes with vegetarian options. That is one point to take note of when using Naver Maps.

So what do you think of the two methods that I have mentioned above? Do you have another way of looking for vegan/vegetarian food in Korea? Share it with me in the comments below!

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