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More Korean stars go vegetarian

Actor and YouTuber Yoon Seung-ah talks about consuming more plant-based meals. (YouTube)
Actor and YouTuber Yoon Seung-ah talks about consuming more plant-based meals. (YouTube)

It is no secret that Korea, a country well-known for its grilled meat like samgyeopsal, or pork belly, has not been particularly vegetarian-friendly.

Celebrities revealing their love for meat is seen as natural, whereas stars who reveal their vegetarian diets are often treated as out of the ordinary in the media.
 
Actor Claudia Kim reveals she is pescatarian on “Omniscient.“ (MBC)
Actor Claudia Kim reveals she is pescatarian on “Omniscient.“ (MBC)

However, recent years have seen a growing number of Korean stars going vegetarian and actively talking about it.

Claudia Kim, also known as Kim Soo-hyun, who appeared in 2015’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” revealed on MBC’s “Omniscient“ two years ago that she is a pescatarian.

”I am a vegetarian who eats dairy products and seafood. I don’t eat meat,” Kim explained to the show‘s panelists who were unfamiliar with the term pescatarian.

She also talked about the difficulty that she faced as a vegetarian in Korea.

“In Korea, it was difficult to eat as a vegetarian because there were many hoesik (after-hours dinner meetings) at meat restaurants and also catered foods on shooting sites mostly consisted of meat-based foods. In Hollywood, it is much easier since the catering service offers a greater choice of foods,“ Kim said.

In June last year, Tzuyu, a member of K-pop girl group Twice, appeared on MBC FM4U radio program “Kim Shin-young‘s Noon Song of Hope” and said she had recently started a pescatarian diet.

“I only eat seafood and I don’t eat meat. I am doing it because I just want to,” she said. 

For the Lunar New Year holiday, actor Im Soo-jung shares a photo of vegan rice cake soup, or tteokguk, which uses tofu instead of eggs. (Instagram)
For the Lunar New Year holiday, actor Im Soo-jung shares a photo of vegan rice cake soup, or tteokguk, which uses tofu instead of eggs. (Instagram)

For some stars sharing their special diet is just a one-off, but actor Im Soo-jung repeatedly talks about the topic mainly to contribute to the vegan community here.

Im went vegan in 2015 for health reasons.

“At first I started a vegan diet for my health. Because animal protein did not work well with my body. I enjoy being a vegetarian now,” Im said during a press conference held for movie “Mothers” in 2018.

Since then, she has been actively introducing vegan dishes and local vegan restaurants through her social media account.

Im said she decided to share them after finding out that many of the local restaurants were forced to shut down after few years due to a lack of customers. She added that she also wants to help Korean vegans by sharing information.

For the Lunar New Year holiday this year, Im posted a vegan rice cake soup, or tteokguk, which uses tofu as garnish instead of eggs on her Instagram.

Im also quit her job as a model for SK-II cosmetics after switching to vegan and animal cruelty-free products. She is currently a representative for vegan skin care brand melixir.

Promoting messages about saving the environment is also another reason why stars like Kim Hyo-jin, who first became a vegetarian more than 10 years ago, talk about their diet whenever the opportunity arises.

During an online press conference Thursday, KBS “Environment Special” producer Lee Sung-bom said he picked Kim to be the host of his new show because he noticed that she truly cares about the environment and had made several changes to her lifestyle, including her diet.

“As I started taking an interest in animals and the environment, I decided to quit eating meat,” Kim Hyo-jin said. “As a mom of two kids, I could literally feel the serious impact of environmental destruction on children.”

Kim added that she is currently learning more about different vegetarian dishes and types of vegetarian diets.

Meanwhile, some Korean stars say they recently decided to become “flexitarian” -- eating mainly vegetarian food, but occasionally allowing meat into their diet -- because they care about the environment.

Oh Nov. 22, actor and YouTuber Yoon Seung-ah posted a video about how she started trying some vegan meals to take part in a campaign to eat less meat organized by the Seoul branch of Greenpeace.

She said she decided to join the campaign after finding out that a lot of carbon dioxide is emitted during the production of meat.

“I am not a vegetarian and I like meat. But after finding out about its impact on our environment, I am trying to consume less meat,” Yoon said.

Last year, Tiffany of Girls’ Generation also revealed on bandmate Yuri‘s YouTube channel that she eats plant-based meals five days a week for the environment.
 
Tiffany of Girls’ Generation reveals on bandmate Yuri‘s YouTube channel that she eats plant-based meals five days a week. (YouTube)
Tiffany of Girls’ Generation reveals on bandmate Yuri‘s YouTube channel that she eats plant-based meals five days a week. (YouTube)

“It is impossible to cut out all meat at once,” Tiffany said. “I want to do it step by step, changing one meal at a time.”

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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