This Sunday, vegetarians and vegans alike will rejoice in all of their herbivore glory. Thanksgiving isn’t just for the carnivores anymore. Gone are the days of thawed out pumpkin pies and gooey god-knows-what’s-in-it string bean casseroles. Thanks to creator and organizer, Claire Harrison, the group  is bigger than ever, here to reclaim the title of Thanksgiving as a home cookin’, feel good holiday… and add some (animal free) foodie flare.

The last SVP was such a success it left people spilling out of Casablanca’s in Haebangchon for lack of space. The best part of hanging outside? Ask any palette in the room and they will surely be hailing ‘s, Suzi Que, with the Tastiest Treat Award of the potluck year.

Suzi, a Korean adoptee born and raised in Australia, has forged her own path to success in the area of raw and vegan foods. Her deserts and other dishes line up with the growing interest in nutritionally pleasing foods. They are also aesthetically delectable, and a whole lot more delicious and healthy than eating, well, most other desserts you will find in Seoul.

After calming myself from the foodgasm I had after savoring the raw blueberry cheesecake Suzi made at the last SVP, I was able to ask her where she came from and how exactly she creates all this tasty raw sustenance.

(To clarify, raw food is any purely plant derivative food item that has never been heated over 38 degrees Celsius. Vegan means NO animal products).

You worked at a hagwon before devoting yourself to Whole*istic, what made you want to quit?

My hagwon was located in Yongin, a 50 minute commute on a good day. That combined with the fact that I felt creatively stifled and stuck in a cycle where the children didn’t want to learn, so I didn’t put in extra effort, was making me so depressed I either wanted to stab myself or them. Luckily for all concerned, there was no stabbing but a lot of cooking, which led to the beginning of Whole*istic.

Was this your profession at home? How did your interest in raw/vegan start?

I’ve always been interested in nutrition and an alternative, holistic lifestyle, stemming from practicing and studying dance through to my mid 20′s. I also studied holistic nutritional medicine.

I became vegetarian in high school, however, I had limited knowledge and after a year jumped back on the meat train. Whilst going through an obsessive Bikram Yoga phase in 2010, I followed a vegan lifestyle and learned about nutrition, vegan and raw food recipes from fellow yogis and read many bookstand blogs.

Living according to a raw or vegan diet sounds incredibly difficult in such a big meat eating country. Do you live a full raw or vegan lifestyle? And do you have any tips for those who are looking to bring more of these options into their own lives?

I have been vegetarian and vegan in the past, however, these days I prefer not to define myself with a food label: vegan, vegetarian etc. I can’t be that dogmatic with my food choices or rip into myself if I eat something that doesn’t fit the description. I rarely eat meat and dairy doesn’t agree with me. Instead, I buy everything I can organic and steer clear of processed foods.

Food is so ingrained in rituals and I actually find it easier to be vegan here in Korea because I rarely eat out. I am always making my own food. I find that without the usual distractions back home; affordable, amazing yogurts, lamb (Australians eat more lamb than beef I think!) and authentic Vietnamese, Greek and Spanish cuisine, their is little temptation for me to eat non-vegan.

To eat more raw and vegan options is easy and the cheaper option here. Go to your local shijang (market) and buy whatever produce is in season, fruit for snacks, salads for lunch, cooked grains and vegetables for dinner. Keep it simple. Don’t complicate it. It’s just food. Every meal doesn’t have to be an elaborate 3 course banquet affair.

What is one ingredient you can’t live without?

Hmmmm, that’s a tough one, but probably chia seeds. They are irreplaceable and versatile in my recipes. Chia seeds replace eggs as a binding agent and are flavorless. They are high in proteins and fiber and can also be mixed into smoothies, mixed with fruit and almond milk and left for 30 minutes to thicken into a pudding dessert.

What is your favorite thing to eat, and can you give us the recipe?

I never got the green smoothie hype until I actually tried them. Now I can’t live without them and no longer drink coffee, and they’re so easy to make.

Take any leafy greens (I’m not quite sure what I buy here, ranges from spinach to bok choy – whatever’s freshest)

1 whole cucumber – skin on

1 frozen banana (cut into smaller pieces and freeze separately otherwise you’ll get one big chunk that will break your blender)

1 cup blueberries

1 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 tbsp maca powder

2 tbsp chia seeds

1/2 cup almond milk… and blend. Drink it and I swear you will be buzzing with energy soon after.

The path you have chosen to follow your passion is admirable and good inspiration to those of us who are in teaching limbo. Do you have any philosophy that relates to the path you’ve chosen?

My parents raised me with the gift of just focusing on being happy. I’m not concerned with status, cars or bank balances so it allows me the freedom to follow my dreams and chase that elusive goal of happiness. What’s the worst that could happen? I become a teacher at a different school/hagwon? I go back to Australia? I move to London? Not bad back-up options really.

“Life is full of choices, if you have the guts to go for it.” Henry Rollins

Where do you hope to be in the future?

My ultimate dream is to have my own cafe selling similar things to what I am currently producing at Whole*istic. Small goals for now would be to get my veggie patties on the menu of local establishments like Casablanca, Craftworks or The Bakers Table and to have my first catering event and seeing a whole room of people having a good time whilst enjoying wholesome foods!

Tell us more about your delicious treats and where we can find you!

Crackers, dips, raw energy balls, veggie patties, corn bread and desserts are currently available at  and soon to be on their online shop. Email them for any delivery inquiries until they are available online. On the weekends I make salads and desserts, however with more demand or requests these could be available during the week as well.

in Hongdae is always stocked with energy balls and I collaborated with them to create a special seasonal dessert, Persimmon cream pie.

I am also at the Marche Festival, on the 2nd Saturday of each month.

November’s Seoul Vegan (Thanksgiving!) Potluck is happening this Sunday the 18th at the home of some of Kyunglidan’s lovely locals. Find out details on the blog or on the .

Written by Stephanie Pizzo

Photographs courtesy of Suzi at

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