Vegan Korean chefs urges to swap dog meat soup for plant-based food for Boknal festival

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Vegan Korean chef Ahn Baek-Rin and Humane Society International are encouraging a swap to plant-based meals for the Boknal dog meat festival.

With Boknal, the South Korean dog meat festival, kicking off on the three hottest days of the year according to the lunar calendar, animal welfare organisation Humane Society International’s South Korea wing has teamed up with local vegan chef Ahn Baek-Rin to promote plant-based eating during the festival.

Traditionally, bosintang (or dog meat soup) is consumed during Boknal as a means to beat the summer heat. Humane Society International claims that swapping to a plant-based version of the soup with similar ingredients could help save a million dogs.

Between one and two million dogs are still bred across South Korea in unsanitary and inhumane conditions and barren cages in thousands of dog meat farms, most of whom are slaughtered during the summer festival.

While opinion polls show that 84% of Koreans don’t consume dog meat and never intend to, even if they’ve done so in the past, of the ones who do eat it, 70% do so during Boknal.

The nonprofit is promoting three vegan recipes with its My Healthy Diet campaign, one each on Chobok (start of summer), Jungbok (mid-summer) and Malkbok (end of summer). The dishes have been created by Baek-Rin and two other chefs to be revealed during Boknal, using seasonal vegetables. The plant-based recipes don’t require hours of boiling and cooking, which is billed as a time-saving advantage appealing to home cooks.

Baek-Rin unveiled her Chobok recipe on July 11. Called “self-care soup”, it combines a broth made with boshin soup sauce, vegetables and cashews, with shiitake, pine and lion’s mane mushrooms, and a sauce made with Korean chilli paste, sesame oil, soy sauce and paprika.

The organisation is campaigning to end dog meat trade in South Korea and has already cooperated with farmers to close 17 dog farms. Nara Kim, Humane Society International Korea’s dog meat campaign manager, said: “I have been to many dog meat farms, and I believe that if consumers saw the unsanitary and inhumane conditions that I see, they would not wish to eat bosintang anymore.”

Baek-Rin said of his Chobok recipe: “It will be a mutually beneficial dish, and it will be a perfect solution for Boknal, as it is full of essential vitamins and nutrients from seasonal vegetables. They provide a great way to boost our nutrient intake and ensure we eat enough vegetables.”

Anay Mridul
Anay Mridul
Anay is journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.