Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes exploitation and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or everyday products.
There are many ways to embrace a Vegan lifestyle; like keeping a plant-based diet which prevents them from consuming meat, fish, shellfish, dairy, insects, honey, leather and any products tested on animals.
At KCRUSH America, we interviewed a Vegan Chef who operates a business in Seoul where she sells vegan products online, in hope that this interview would provide great resource and information to those who are interested in the idea of pursuing a Vegan lifestyle.
Hello, thank you for taking a KCRUSH interview. Would you kindly introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello, my name is Han Hee-jung and I am the founder and CEO of Vegbox, which is a Vegan market. I supply Vegan products to individual consumers and retailers; while I also provide Vegan culture contents as well.
What made you start this business?
There are three founding members in our company, who all have their own careers – as a web developer, a designer and a cooking class instructer – we all work together and do our part in this Vegan product business.
Then we all encountered the same issue, which was the fact that we couldn’t find Vegan products very easily in Korea.
At times, there were so many cuisines we could’ve made that we couldn’t because we lacked one special ingredient. Like the Vegan cheese we now sell at our company for example.
After contemplating, we decided to start a business to supply the Vegan products for people who experienced the same issues as we did.
Tell us why you recommend a Vegan life, and enlighten us on what Veganism is all about.
There are so many reasons why people choose to become Vegan.
To name a few, it may be due to health reasons, environment issues, redistribution of wealth, animal rights and etc. I can’t state just one reason but I chose to become a Vegan because I seeked to have a more peaceful meal for myself.
I think I began to pursue a Vegan lifestyle because I found it ironic that a meal that was beneficial for a person could also cause death or harm to another animal.
I am also very satisfied of the outcome because the effect on our Vegan products is greater than I imagined.
As Jeremy Rifkin mentioned in his book, Beyond Beef, I think the Vegan way of life could be the solution for people’s health, environment, as well as protecting the abused animals and benefit the human race.
Tell us about your currently best-selling product.
Soy meat, almond milk and coconut milk which are alternatives for milk are very popular and croissants that do not contain any milk, butter and eggs are also doing well.
But the best-selling product would be the Vegan cheese.
The Vegan cheese are usually popular to consumers who are allergic to milk, but they are also for those who are “cheese manias” wishing to try out different types of cheese like, smoked cheese, baked cheese, hot pepper cheese and more.
What kind of food do you normally enjoy eating?
I used to be someone who loved to eat Korean food with rice.
But nowadays, I get to eat a lot of pizzas and pasta since I spend time on developing and consulting about menus which involves using Vegan cheese.
I enjoy eating gluten-free pasta with a touch of oil and herbs. I also like Vegan cheese pizza with all sorts of veggies on top.
When do you feel the most content while you’re working?
At times, we receive phone calls from our customers, thanking us for our products.
A mother once said that her child couldn’t eat cheese and milk like the rest of the family when she couldn’t get lacto-free products before. So she was thankful that she could get our Vegan products.
Another person, who hadn’t had pasta for years due to being allergic to gluten, also gave us a call to thank us for the product.
Then I realized how a product could be so crucial for someone, so I decided to work harder at this work of importing even tough it requires so much work.
What do you like to do for leisure?
I like to work out. I work during the night time because I have to work with the people abroad, I really need to stay fit and healthy. I exercise, swim and do scuba diving regularly.
What do you find the most difficult when running a business?
Vegan products are not yet very well-known in Korea.
Even when we were providing selective and the best products from many different countries around the world, it was hard to persuade people and let them understand why Vegan products are vital compared to other products and it was also difficult to persuade the retailers who were unsure of our products.
So we decided to show the public the prospects of the Vegan market currently, the pros of the vegan products, offer menus we developed by using Vegan products and promote the retailers of our products as well.
For the individuals who are hesitant to use, consume our products, we provide videos of menus we developed, share recipe books via blogs, hold pop-up restaurants at various events and flea markets, so people can come and sample our Vegan products.
Please tell us about your plans and wishes for 2018?
I’d like to reach out to more people with diverse products in the future. Since our company’s main product is Vegan cheese, we also want to launch different brands to introduce in Korea.
Next year, we’d like to explore further with our business and export our excellent quality Vegan products from Korea to Mexico.
Thank you for the time. We wish you all the best in all your ventures!