Global Voices: Hyunjoo Lee
Organization: Hyunjoo is with Meat Free Monday Korea. She also has a PhD in Oriental Pharmacy and works with Girin Oriental Pharmacy. She is the author of five books - two vegetarian essays, one on Five Sense Therapy and two vegan cookbooks -Vegetarian Practice and Joyful Vegan Recipes.
When you think of Meatless Monday, what’s one word that comes to mind?: Reducetarian
Tell us about something going on in your country or city addressing meat reduction:
In Seoul, the capital of South Korea, meatless meals are provided each week at 805 cafeterias citywide, including the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Some cafeterias have reduced this to 1-2 times per month, due to COVID-19.
This past year, middle and high school students have promoted Meatless Monday in their schools, persuading other students, teachers and their parents to join in. So far, there are four schools where students have started Meatless Monday.
Since October of this year, all of the schools in Ulsan have been offering vegetarian options to students who choose to go meatless. Additionally, a vegan day is held once a month. The North Jeolla Provincial Office of Education, under the authority of individual school principals, currently has a vegetarian day at more than 100 schools.
Next year, education offices in Seoul and Incheon will be introducing vegetarian options, beginning with pilots in several schools. Other cities are expected to join as well.
The vegetarian diet is now emerging as a trend in Korea. Many large food companies have launched vegetarian meat and vegan products. Vegetarian dishes are available for online ordering, through regular ordering apps and there are also vegetarian apps such as Happy Cow. Various online vegetarian challenge programs are also popular.
In addition, Hyunjoo recently held a vegetarian challenge with the Korean brand, Pulmuone, a popular producer of soy-based products to promote her vegan cookbook, Vegetarian Practice As part of the promotion, if someone posted a picture with the book, Pulmuone provided tofu products as a gift.
Meat Free Monday Korea is also hosting a three-week vegan challenge event with the Seoul Metropolitan Government. 178 people applied, and 65 were selected. Those selected were divided into three groups (weight loss, low-carbon diet, and various vegetarian experiences) to provide vegan information, vegan recipes, and specific diet plans. Participants are to make meatless dishes every day and carry out requirements including sharing recipe photos. Some participants will be selected to receive prizes.
If you could give one piece of advice or an easy step people could take to reduce their meat consumption, what would it be?:
For an individual, I emphasize the impact a simple choice can have. Simply choosing to eat tofu instead of beef for one meal can have a huge impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
For an organization, I emphasize that a campaign reducing the total amount of meat consumption over the long-term, even if not perfect, can have a large overall impact if everyone participates.
What’s your favorite plant-based dish?:
This tofu topped with a simple balsamic sauce is delicious in a salad or on its own.
Tofu Steak and Balsamic Oriental Sauce
300g (about 10.5 oz) tofu
⅕ of a red onion
½ of an apple
3 cherry tomatoes
Small piece of cucumber
Head of romaine lettuce
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp plum syrup
1 tsp sesame oil
Slice tofu into small pieces. Put a kitchen towel on a plate, put tofu on top of it and season with salt and pepper.
Julienne apples into thin strips. Cut red onion into thin strips. Roughly chop romaine lettuce.
Mix all dressing ingredients together in a bowl.
Grease a heated pan with oil. Add tofu and cook on medium heat, moving around so all sides cook. Cook until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. (Alternatively, if you prefer, you can blanch tofu in boiling water).
Place roasted tofu into a bowl with romaine lettuce, apples, and red onion. Sprinkle sauce over the whole dish. Enjoy!