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Vegetarian Restaurants in Korea

February 14, 2006

While it may not be obvious at a glance, meat is everywhere in Korean cuisine. From the tiny shrimps in ``kimchi'' to the ground beef lacing your ``pipimbap (rice mixed with vegetables),'' purely vegetarian dishes and restaurants are few and far between.

For vegetarian and vegan foreigners arriving here for the first time, this may initially come as a surprise. Later it is simply a frustration.

Fortunately, however, an American expat has begun an initiative that should make it a little easier for English-speaking vegetarians to find their next spot to graze.

Sonia Knapp, who first came to South Korea to teach English in 1998, set up a Web site last October indexing some 100 vegetarian restaurants and organic shops scattered around South Korea.
The site she eventually built - -
remains fairly basic, but Knapp hopes to add more information and features in the future. She welcomes any assistance from Web designers or enthusiastic vegetarians to improve the homepage.

Ultimately, she would like to form a non-profit organization around the site that could set up informational displays about vegetarianism at festivals and sponsor educational trips to organic farms, she said.
Knapp said she first decided to become a vegetarian because of her love for animals. The header on her Web site reads: ``Animals are our friends. Don't eat our friends.'' She was also influenced by reading ``Charlotte's Web,'' E. B. White's popular children's book about a barn spider who tries to save a pig from the slaughter.

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