Vegan's Chronicles + [vegetarian]

Vegans moving to Korea: What to Pack?

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. :)

If anyone sees anything missing from this list, lemme know! :)

symbols:
* Available at the Foreign Food Mart at Itaewon, Seoul.
^ Can be found on Korean online stores, like gmarket.com

Virtually impossible or rare to find:
almond/cashew milk
oat milk
hemp milk
vegan rice milk
nutritional yeast
carob chips / carob powder
vegan cheese
vegan cream cheese
Ener-G egg replacer
quinoa
amaranth
spelt flour
steel-cut oats
vegan mayo
hemp seeds
hemp oil
vegan protein powder
wheat germ
wheat bran
medjool dates
vegan marshmallows
arrowroot powder
vegan protein/energy bars
nut butters other than peanut butter

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

Available but somewhat expensive:
rolled oats*^
B12 and other vitamins
maple syrup
agave syrup

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! :)