Health, animal rights, environmental issues—for various reasons, many people have been going vegan since the turn of the century. Despite the increasing number of vegans in the world, veganism is still comparatively an unfamiliar practice in Korea. The limited “vegan” places are mostly centered around Itaewon, where some restaurants serve vegetarian or vegan meals. However, being vegan does not only mean being on a strict diet; veganism is a lifestyle, a community, and a culture. Choosing the right food, clothes, and sex toys, all animal and environmentfriendly, are components of a vegan lifestyle. To take a closer look into the vegan culture, the Ewha Voice invites its readers to Berlin, the vegan mecca of Europe. Meet Free University of Berlin’s Veggie Nº 1—Germany’s first vegetarian canteen, Veganz—the world’s first vegan supermarket, Avesu—a vegan shoe and accessories store, and Other Nature—a vegan sex shop.
Veggie Nº 1: Germany’s first vegetarian canteen
Veganism is a rapidly growing segment of the population, with over one-third of vegetarians choosing to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Vegans, who eschew products that use dairy, honey, eggs, and all other animal products, have a higher standard to meet in terms of diet and daily living. In the University of Berlin, Veggie Nº 1 became the first vegetarian canteen to adhere to the high standards of veganism. Veggie Nº 1 is one of the many cafeterias around campus in the University of Berlin. The cafeteria is the first vegetarian university canteen in the country, serving only vegan and vegetarian meals. There is a variety of different dishes, including salads, soups, and desserts. The meals that greeted the Ewha Voice on the day of the visit were couscous, vegetarian curry, and chickpea ragu, all vegetarian friendly. According to Lisa, who helped the Ewha Voice with translation around Berlin, Veggie Nº 1 is much smaller than the other cafeterias around campus. Nevertheless, around lunch time, the place bustled with people, both students and faculty coming to eat at the cafeteria. One student, Henrick, has been a vegetarian for a year. He revealed that his growing interest in health and animal issues led him to become a vegetarian. “First of all, I tried to eat healthy; it’s good for your skin and nutrition in general,” he said. “I just started to be more aware of what I’m eating, and I started cooking my own food. I don’t really enjoy the thought of eating animals anymore.” Hanin, another student eating at Veggie Nº 1, stated that she has been a vegetarian since 2009. “First I saw the documentary ‘Feed the World’ and afterwards I was researching about vegetarianism for myself,” she explained. “I wanted to know where the food we consume comes from and how it’s produced.” Due to uneven distribution, the food that could be feeding the impoverished is instead feeding the animals that we consume, which Hanin thought to be plain stupid. She wanted to be supportive and chose to be vegetarian since. Hanin also mentioned other ways she practices vegetarianism besides managing her diet, such as with using cosmetics. “Vegan, natural cosmetics avoid ingredients such as honey or milk in soap,” she said. “Vegan cosmetic brands do not only avoid certain ingredients, but they also do not test on animals.” It is still debated on whether or not veganism is a necessary moral lifestyle. However, it is safe to assume that veganism helps reduce one’s ecological footprint. Vegans today follow their lifestyle for different reasons, but whatever the reason may be they are helping to create a more sustainable world.