The Korean Vegan on Saying “I Love You” Through Food

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

In 2016, when she wasn’t busy as an attorney, Joanne Lee Molinaro started blogging about food, heartbreak, cooking vegan, love, insecurity, and everything in between as The Korean Vegan. As she explains, “I don’t share my stories simply to share my stories… I do it because I feel there is a kernel of truth in my stories that more people need to hear.”

Today, she shares her truth with more than 4 million followers on TikTok and beyond in videos that combine veganized Korean recipes like Miyeok Guk and Kimchi with stories about the immigrant experience in America. The central thread: showing love through food.

Resources and Mentions:

Joanne Molinaro

Joanne Lee Molinaro

Founder
Joanne Lee Molinaro is a Korean American woman, born in Chicago, Illinois. Her parents were both born in what is now known as North Korea. Molinaro started her blog, The Korean Vegan, in 2016, after adopting a plant-based diet. In July 2020, she started her TikTok (@thekoreanvegan), mostly as a coping mechanism for the isolation caused by the global pandemic. She began posting content related to politics and life as a lawyer during quarantine. However, after a single post of her making Korean braised potatoes for dinner (while her husband taught a piano lesson in the background) went viral, Molinaro shifted her attention to producing 60 second recipe videos, while telling stories about her family—immigrants from what is now known as North Korea.

The Korean Vegan

Through recipes, videos, cookbooks, social media and more, The Korean Vegan shares and celebrates the immigrant story in America and brings people together over food.

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