I had sent a long email to the family, trying to describe the person I am. One of the nuggets of information I told them was, “I’m a vegetarian”. Ova-Lacto to be exact. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means I eat dairy and eggs. Nothing with a face or a mother. Definitely not seafood. I call shellfish, “Sea Bugs”. Shrimp are the cockroaches of the sea.
Ki-Woon (twin) replied to me stating he, “likes meat”.
“Why do you hate meat? There are many delicious meat dishes in Korea”.
I told him it would take too long to explain why… and it would.
I wrote, “I like animals. I stopped eating them.”
Let’s face it. Being a vegetarian is a first world luxury. In many poor developing nations, eating meat is not optional. From what I have read, South Korea is a new first world country where vegetarianism is a new concept. As the Vegetarian Traveler website put it, “South Korea is a carnivores paradise”.
Perhaps I’m ignorant for doing this, but along with passing my dietary concerns to the brothers, I said I didn’t want to visit a restaurant that serves dog or insects. Ki-Won (older brother) assured me they don’t eat dogs or insects. He said, “Some people eat them, but most of Korea doesn’t”. I know, it’s a hell of a thing to ask… but I had to know.
Fortunately, they understand my situation and are gracious enough to plan accordingly.
Having passed that hurdle, this will be the first time I eat Korean food. In 2005, Lee and I were at Siggraph in LA. Our hotel was in Koreatown. Lee suggested we check out a Korean restaurant. She never ate Korean food and thought it would be cool to eat food from the culture I’m from. I looked at the menu in the window. I studied the pictures as if I were examining a crime scene… We went straight to McDonalds where I ate a McVeggie burger.
Today, I’m open to trying new dishes… so I’m excited to see what Korea has to offer.