Seoul’s 6th annual vegan festival was held this past Saturday, May 18th at Seoul Innovation Park near Bulgwang Station. I’ve been in Seoul for two years, but this was my first time in attendance. Because I was still flirting with a plant-based diet in 2018, the festival didn’t seem as appealing as a free concert scheduled to take place on the same day, but this year as a more awakened plant-based vegetarian, I made sure nothing stood in my way.
It took me about an hour to get to Seoul Innovation park from my side of town. The weather was windy and fair, the mid-70s temperatures (22-23 degrees C) a nice break from the summer-like 80+ degree (27+ degrees C) temps we’ve been experiencing in Seoul. What I expected to be a small, low-key event turned out to be a large sprawl of white tents in two camps–one for vegan info, crafts, and lifestyle products, and the other for food. Can you guess where I spent most of my time?
What I loved about this festival was its dedication to reducing trash. Visitors were asked to bring their own containers, plates, and cutlery to enjoy food at the stalls and their own reusable bags for shopping. There were eco-friendly bamboo plates and bowls available for purchase at the event if people didn’t know beforehand or couldn’t bring their own. Some stalls, like this one for Oatly lattes, gave discounts for bringing your own cup or would let you rent a mug if you put down a deposit. There was also a dish washing station for festival-goers to clean out their dishes before using them again.
Luckily, ya girl came prepared with her own thermos and tupperware, so I dove right into stuffing my face with plant-based goodness, starting with this tempeh quiche and tempeh jerky from the Paap tempeh stall. (Visit the brand’s website here. IG: paap_tempeh)
Farther down were stalls from Drunken Vegan, a bomb sex-positive vegan bar that sells adult toys; Haimiso, a very reasonably priced cafe known for its vegan brown rice-based burgers in Northern Seoul; and the vegan restaurant chain Loving Hut, who had samples of vegan fried chicken.
Check out Haimiso’s Happy Cow page here.
Read more about Loving Hut Korea on their website here.
Seeing and smelling all this good food of course revved up my appetite (or maybe it was the lack of breakfast?) so I decided to stop in for a vegan version of one of my favorite Korean street foods. This version by Vegebowl featured fried vegetables, rice cakes, and onions painted with a garlic soy sauce.
The line was long, but it was definitely worth the wait. Aren’t you drooling just looking at it?
I felt a little bad for eating something so deliciously deep fried, so I sought out lighter options next. There were a couple of raw food stalls, but this one from Raw Food Farm was my favorite because of their savory-sweet kale wrap loaded with veggies, chipotle, and pineapple, and their beautiful raw vegan macarons.
I was very curious about that spinach poundcake, but not curious enough to buy it haha! Check out their FB page here.
Mong Thai brought an array of vegan cream pastas and Thai noodle dishes alongside a beautiful chocolate strawberry cake. (Read about them on Happy Cow here.)
By far the longest line at the festival was for Beyond Meat burgers from Monk’s Butcher, a very nice and pricey vegetarian bar that I will definitely visit for my next special occasion. (Happy Cow page; IG: monksbutcher) You could also buy Beyond Meat patties at a discounted price to take home with you. I’ve bought these from Vegan Space, so standing in that long line wasn’t worth it for me. Still, looks very tasty!
But there were also some promising looking vegan burgers and jackfruit sloppy joes from the Sweetsol Kitchen stall. I was surprised that there wasn’t more of a line! Check them out online here or on IG: sweetsol_kitchen.
By this point I decided up on eating healthy for the day and went into full festival mode by eating my first hot dog in almost 15 years. Even when I followed an omni diet, I couldn’t stomach hot dogs after finding out what they were made of (in 4th grade!)
Could this stand with its vegan hot dogs, drumsticks, and sausages change my mind?
I thought I would hate it; I wanted to hate it, even though it was vegan, because I’d had a vendetta against them for so long, but y’all this hot dog was so good. It’s a simple and hardly glamorous food, but it’s steeped in American tradition, so maybe the nostalgia made it that much more enjoyable. Totally worth the wait in line.
And then it was time to hunt down some dessert!
There was no shortage of sweets to choose from. There were stalls for everything from cookies, cakes, and to ice cream and gelato. I skipped stalls by cafes I’d been to before (like The Raw, Pyeongsangshi, Sunny Bakery, Soiroum, and Dalyang, which you can read about in my previous post here.) Instead I focused on brands or restaurants that were new to me. Like these nut-free, gluten free vegan cookies from Michell’s cookie factory, for example:
Or Veganique’s impressive dessert spread of peanut butter brownies, plum brownies, green tea ganache cake, coconut banana poundcake, earl grey tea cake, red velvet cake with strawberry jam, and a number of scones. (Website here; IG: veganique_seoul)
I snagged a slice of the orange caramel tea cake and a bottle of the early grey vegan milk tea for later!
Continuing down the line I spotted a nondescript stall with the most beautiful vegan desserts by Mama and Papa. Their muffins and scones are made with rice flour and gluten free!
They also had lemon cookies, madeleines, red beet cake, chocolate cake, strawberry cake, orange cake, and mugwart cake. I grabbed a lemon cookie to-go!
There were also these chewy walnut-cranberry mini muffins and mugwart cakes from 밀한줌…
And baguettes and posh jam-filled pastries from the French bakery Guillaume. (Website here)
What quickly became my favorite stall was this one by Little Ghost (IG: littleghostco), a brand that specializes in small batch nut butters but also had coffee and vegan ice cream.
They had (from left to right) almond butter, almond hazelnut butter, cashew butter, vegan matcha spread, and a coffee toffee spread. The woman running it was super nice and let me sample the melting vegan ice cream which was a DREAM. It’s too bad that they don’t have a physical store yet because I would be there all the time!
After that, all I really wanted was something light and fruity to close out the day, so I chose this tropicana juice pop from a Loving Hut Cafe stand that also had vegan tteokboki.
And that’s about it for my food adventures at Seoul’s vegan food festival!
I was pleasantly full by the end of it all and spent my last hour there talking to some friends and members of the vegan community that I’d seen at previous events. Even though I went to the festival alone, it’s hard to feel lonely when you’re stuffing your face with vegan goodies and chatting up a storm with similarly minded folks. What a nice break from what I usually experience on the daily in Seoul.
Can’t wait for the next one!
P.S. If you’re looking for more info about the festival and the full vendor list, check out the Vegan Festival Korea’s FB page here.
Stay tuned for more food adventures!