Wanna hear a cool idea? Wouldn’t it be fun to start a monthly meet up where a bunch of people make vegan cakes and get together on a Sunday to eat cake, have a coffee or tea, chat and relax? It’s simple but just so perfect. In Berlin, there is a monthly event called Fika Berlin that brings together a group of people who want to enjoy all of these simple pleasures without all of the commercialization.
If you’re a fan of vegan fast food, get yourself to Berlin pronto. There are lots of vegan takeout places, but just a handful of fancy and casual places where you can sit down and enjoy a meal. Personally, I don’t really like typical fast food. Mock meat products made with soy don’t get me very excited. But sometimes, eating a big, greasy meal can be a nice treat. John, on the other hand, loves this kind of stuff. I owe him a big thank you for helping me eat my way through Berlin’s vegan fast food scene. If you’re like me and prefer to eat healthy meals most of the time, you’ll be happy to know it’s not all burgers and pizza. Berlin also has some semi-healthy takeout options for you and me.
Oh how we love Sunday brunch! There’s something special about it, isn’t there? The friends, the food…the food, and the friends. I’m a big fan. In Berlin, there are several restaurants that host a weekly all-you-can-eat, pay-what-you-can vegan brunch. Cafe Vux quickly became our favourite place to hangout on Sunday mornings.
I’m going to skip over our time in Brussels (it was two days, we didn’t eat out and my camera was broken) and move on to the sweet stuff. The sweet stuff being all of the vegan eis, the german word for ice cream, we enjoyed in Berlin. We spent six weeks in Berlin. Six lovely weeks without carrying around our backpacks and moving cities! We rented a cute apartment in Friedrichshain, which put us within walking distance to many of the city’s vegan restaurants and two ice cream shops known for having a wide selection of vegan flavours. As part of our strategy to survive the intense July heat, we frequently went on ice cream dates. Keeping cool was our first priority, the second, of course, was research. After many tastings and flavour pairings, I’m excited to bring you a review of vegan ice cream options in Berlin…
Oops! I skipped a stop. I got so excited to share our news from Ghent that I passed over Bruges, a famous town in Belgium known for its medieval architecture, fancy lace work and In Bruges, a movie staring Colin Farrell. We visited Bruges on a day trip from Antwerp. We were only in the city for a few hours, and spent most of our time enjoying an Indian feast with a group of new friends.
My impression is that most people haven’t heard of Ghent, the city in Belgium. Up until a couple of months ago, I had no idea it existed. But you should know about Ghent because it’s shaping up to be one of the most vegetarian friendly cities in the world. In fact, in May 2009, Ghent was the first city in the world to adopt a weekly vegetarian day. The local government has recognized the positive impact of a meat-free diet and mandated every restaurant in town to have a vegetarian dish on their menu. Every Thursday, school cafeterias serve only veg-friendly options and civil servants and elected councilors are encouraged to abstain from meat for the day. Some restaurants also join in on Thursdays and offer a special vegetarian menu. But the veggie love doesn’t stop there. The city is also home to many vegetarian restaurants, and a few that are 100% vegan. We spent five days in this awesome city and ate out as often as we could.
After a couple of weeks in the Netherlands, we were ready to explore Belgium. Antwerp, or Antwerpen as the locals call it, was our first stop. We’d planned to stay there for two days but met some really nice people and stuck around for five. We ate at home most days but did manage to venture out and scope out the local vegan food scene.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian travelling in Europe, there’s a darn good chance you’ll end up having at least one meal at Maoz, the popular vegetarian falafel joint. They’ve got locations in major cities across eastern Europe, including Paris, London, Amsterdam and Barcelona. They’ve also opened a few franchises in the US and you can now find them in Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Florida and New Jersey. A few years ago, we enjoyed several visits to Maoz in Paris and Barcelona and were excited to have a chance to eat there again while visiting Rotterdam, Netherlands.
After visiting Amsterdam, we took the train to Utrecht, a nearby city packed with lots of students, bikes and cute shops. It’s basically a mini Amsterdam, without the overwhelming presence of the red light district, drugs and tourists. In Utrecht, we found another vegan squat cafe, lots of bio shops, and made friends with Miffy at the super cute Dick Bruna museum.
When we arrived at the Amsterdam airport, we received a warm greeting from Harald, the talented photographer behind the camera at Vegalicious. Harald does a fantastic job capturing the beauty of his wife Chris’ unique vegan recipes, all of which are available for free on the Vegalicious blog.
We had the pleasure of staying with Chris and Harald at their home in Almere, the Netherlands. Upon introduction, they dubbed us their little test bunnies and immediately started feeding us Chris’ delicious vegan creations. Our first taste of Vegalicious talent came in the form of vegan strawberry tarts with soy yogourt and cashew cream. We enjoyed them in the garden with tea and coffee.