Veganism. A term that conjures up mixed reactions and cliché rabbit food jokes in almost every setting. Once aligned with the wearing of hemp jumpers, dreadlocks and dodgy tribal tattoos, nowadays veganism is officially a mainstream lifestyle – embraced by everyone from Hollywood superstars and athletes to your everyday tradie and working mums. And although innovative vegan restaurants and trendy cafes seen to be popping up all over the UK, Australia and USA – finding a good plant-based eatery when travelling Europe can be a bit of a struggle.
So, to help you out when planning your next big trip, we asked our resident vegan expert Ash to share his top five vegan-friendly restaurants across Europe. You can thank us later.
Paris – L’As du Fallafel
Ah, Paris. For the non-vegans, food here is the chocolate-covered-cheese-filled dream. But being vegan here doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the deliciousness. Head into the heart of Paris’s Rue des Rosiers – once Paris’s most vibrant Jewish neighbourhood and a hidden gem of falafel-goodness awaits.
Selling pita sandwiches piled-high with crisp chickpea fritters, pickled red cabbage, fried eggplant and creamy hummus – L’As du Fallafel is run by a local Jewish family and is the falafel place in Paris. Grab a take-away (don’t forget the napkins!) and take a wander around the neighbourhood. Trust us, this is so good you won’t notice the harissa and hummus dribbling down your chin.
Need to know: L’As du Fallafel, 34 Rue des Rosiers. Closest metro is Saint-Paul. Closed Saturday.
Amsterdam – Vegan Junk Food Bar
One of Europe’s most vegan-friendly cities, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding delicious plant-based eateries here. From vegan cheese boards at Mr & Mrs Watson to the achingly hip Meatless District in Old West Amsterdam – you’ve got most options covered.
But when you’re craving something a little less…healthy, make sure you stop in at Vegan Junk Food Bar. Like the name suggests, this vibrantly painted, graffiti-filled, R&B blasting eatery sports an array of unique vegan junk-food classics. Top picks from the menu? Their original VJFB burger filled with plant-based beef, vegan cheddar and famous VJFB sauce or the Kapsalon loaded fries with shawarma, grated cheeze and jalapenos. Vegan or not, this place is worth checking out.
Need to know: Four different locations across Amsterdam. No reservations. Open Mon-Sun. Head to their website for details – https://www.veganjunkfoodbar.com/
Florence – Gustapizza
For centuries, la bella Italia has been perfecting one classic vegan dish – the marinara pizza. Woodfired dough base, Roma tomato sauce, seasoned with garlic and oregano. Simple. Original. Delicious.
In general, you can order a marinara pizza all over Italy but one of the best (according to Ash) is prepared by Gustapizza in Florence. Situated near the lively Piazza Santa Spirito in the heart of Oltrarno, this small unpretentious pizzeria often sports a queue – but that’s how you know it’s amazing, right? Arrive early, pull up a bar stool next to a like-minded pizza enthusiast and tuck in.
And if you’re headed to the capital? Make sure you pay a visit to Pizzarium – the best pizza al taglio (by the cut) in Rome. Owner and official minister of the cult of yeasts, Gabriele Bonci has built Pizzarium on quality ingredients, unusual toppings and fair prices. Push your way through the crowds, grab your slice and head to the Vatican situated only minutes away.
Need to know:
Gustapizza: Via Maggio 46R, Florence (near Piazza Santo Spirito). Very small venue so be prepared to queue and sit with strangers.
Pizzarium: Via della Meloria 43, Rome (near Cipro metro stop). Small bakery-style shop. Very crowded around 12:30 – 2pm.
Berlin – Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap
As you would expect from one of the trendiest cities in Europe – Berlin is veganism’s #1 supporter. Boasting over 470 vegan restaurants and the world’s largest vegan grocery store, you can’t really go wrong when hunting down a suitable dinner spot here. They’ve even got ‘Vegan Avenue’ – a whole street dedicated to all things animal-product-free, located on Schivelbeiner Straße.
And whether you’re vegan or not, chances are you’ve heard of Berlin’s most famous kebab stall Mustafa’s. The OG of modern kebabs, this little stall often has a queue long enough to put Apple’s new release lines to shame. A non-vegan cult favourite is the doner kebab
BUT they have a vegan option that’s just as good. And if you’re wanting to sample traditional German street food (minus the animal products), head to Curry at the Wall. Just a five-minute walk from Checkpoint Charlie, this food-truck style spot has all your vegan curry/bratwurst options sorted.
Need to know:
Mustafa’s: located near the U-Bahn station on the west side of Mehringdamm in Berlin Kreuzberg. Be prepared to wait 30 minutes + in the queue.
Curry in the Wall: Zimmerstrausse 97, 10117 Berlin. Five-minute walk from Checkpoint Charlie. Outdoor seating. Look out for the big inflatable curry bear.
Prague – Lehká hlava
A traditionally ‘meaty’ European destination, options in Prague are kind of…limited. However, Lehká hlava has been dishing up plant-based delicacies in Prague’s Old Town for the last 15 years. Literally translating to ‘clear head’, this quirky vegetarian joint provides vegan-friendly takes on traditional Czech meals. Located in a 500-year-old building and made up of three main dining rooms, each with their own unique designs – it’s not just the food here that will leave your soul and tummy full.
The chefs here continuously change up the menus so you’ll get to try something different each time. From seitan roasts with red cabbage and potato dumplings to sweet potato noodle salad with spicy zucchini falafel, Lehká hlava place an emphasis on fresh natural ingredients – just as nature intended. Whether you’re vegan or not, this is a dining experience not to be missed.
Need to know: Borsov 2/280, Prague Old Town. Open daily from midday to 10pm. Make a reservation to secure a table. http://www.lehkahlava.cz/