I must admit that despite being pretty excited to visit what is arguably the most vegan-friendly city in Europe, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. As far as travel goes, continental Europe is about as far out of my comfort zone as it gets and given recent world events, I boarded the plane from Istanbul to Berlin with a fair amount of trepidation.
Little did I know that a week later, Berlin would steal my heart and the top spot in my ranking of favourite European cities (sorry, London!) The truth is, I loved everything about it. A true “hipster’s paradise” the city is rife with incredible bookshops, kitschy boutiques, and cool independent coffee shops. Explosive graffiti contrasts with sharp contemporary architecture, and each neighbourhood has a distinct vibe that gives Berlin a unique sense of dynamism.
And of course, the food. Aside from the fact that there practically a vegan restaurant/cafe/supermarket practically on every street, what struck me the most is how normal veganism is considered there. There wasn’t a single instance where I explained my dietary needs, nor did I have to. Even at non-vegan spots, vegan options are highlighted front and center, and no one bats an eye when you ask for soy milk instead of regular. It felt wonderfully disarming to see the tangible effects of a burgeoning vegan community.
For the inaugural breakfast, we took a short walk up to Daluma, a smoothie and juice bar serving up delicious breakfast bowls both warm and cold. We opted for a supergreen juice and one of each Acai bowl – the perfect power breakfast for a day of exploring. They also serve lunch and have some neat looking salads and snacks to take-out.
Daluma is located on Weinbergsweg 3, 10119 Berlin, Germany. www.daluma.de
A mid-morning pick-me-up came in the form of some freshly roasted specialty coffee, of course (when in Berlin).
Granted, again, I’m not exactly a coffee person – but I kid you not this flat white was the best coffee I’ve ever had.
It’s worth noting that the coffee shops in Berlin use a special brand of soy milk formulated for professional use, which I’m convinced made all the difference in this instance.
Roststatte is located on Ackerstraße 173, 10115 Berlin, Germany. www.pro-macchina.com
It was no coincidence that I happened to be staying minutes away from Europe’s biggest vegan festival, the Veganes Sommerfest Berlin in Alexanderplatz.
There were so many vendors – from food, to fashion, to animal rights groups my head was spinning trying to keep up. Never have I been so spoiled for choice, it was overwhelming! First up, some vegan borek and utterly divine baklava.
As some of you might know, Berlin is home to about 300,000 Turks and counting, with entire neighbourhoods like Kreuzberg surprisingly reminiscient of the back streets of Istanbul. But anyways, I digress.
Being in Germany, we simply had to try the vegan version of Currywurst. Turns out it’s just sausages doused in ketchup and curry powder – delicious nonetheless.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day, flavour wise, was the signature Sunshine Burger.
Even though it has been probably over 15 years since I last had one, this tasted exactly like a McDonalds Chicken burger, complete with that mysterious mayo sauce and all the fix-ins. I still can’t decide if I liked it or if I was just in awe of the resemblance!
The fest ran for three days, so on day 2 we headed back for this decidedly decadent breakfast – vanilla waffles with cherry compote and vegan whipped cream.
The Veganes Sommerfest takes place annually in Berlin – visit www.veganes-sommerfest-berlin.de for more information.
I of course couldn’t visit Berlin without stopping off at Veganz, the world’s first all-vegan supermarket. I must’ve done four or five rounds before finally checking out with an exciting selection of snacks. The supermarket is incredibly well-stocked with not only European brands but popular North American mainstays like Daiya and Gardein. That said, much like Whole Foods, it is definitely on the pricier side.
We made a quick stop off at the attached vegan cafe, Goodies for an afternoon snack – a tempeh BBQ bagel and of course some ‘booch.
Veganz and Goodies are located on Schivelbeiner Str. 34, 10439 Berlin, Germany. www.veganz.de/en/
If you are a dumplings fan, you must visit Momos.
With four vegan flavours, they serve the dumplings either steamed or fried and they were cooked to perfection and packed full of flavour – though I preferred the steamed variety. Depending on what you’re in the mood for, I’d recommend the broccoli tofu and shitake or the pumpkin and chickpea dumplings.
Momos is located on Fehrbelliner Str. 5, 10119 Berlin, Germany. www.momos–berlin.de
After an action-packed morning of exploring the graffiti in the East Side of the city with a walking tour, we settled on The Bowl for lunch.
Touting a “clean eating” approach, this restaurant serves up a wonderful array of vibrant superfood bowls consisting of a grain, a green, a starch, and a protein with salad galore.
The california and macrobiotic were our bowls of choice, and they did not disappoint.
I really need to try brewing my own Kombucha again, this stuff was perfection. Dessert was a white chocolate bowl adorned with seasonal fruits. If I’m honest, this looked a lot better than it tasted, it was just a little too heavy on the cacao butter, I found.
The Bowl is located on Warschauer Str. 33, 10243 Berlin, Germany. www.thebowl–berlin.com
Attached to The Bowl, is Avesu, a vegan shoe store.
They had a truly great selection of everything from formal dress shoes to sandals and athletic shoes.
After much deliberation I purchased these grey Birkenstock-esque slip-ons from Vegetarian Shoes and I am loving them so far (although they were a tad painful to break-in).
Avesu is located on Schivelbeiner Str. 35, 10439 Berlin, Germany. www.avesu.de/stores
Vegan pizza is one of those things novelty foods that is almost impossible to get right. Having tried my fair share of it in places like Dubai and London, I was yet to be wowed. Enter Sfizy Veg.
The creamiest, cheesiest, smokiest vegan pizza you will ever try. We even took some to-go for breakfast the next morning before our train to Prague (don’t judge), and it was just as good cold. Truly not to be missed if you’re in Berlin.
Sfizy Veg is located on Treptower Str. 95, 12059 Berlin, Germany. www.sfizyveg.de
On the way back from the Mauer Park flea market on Sunday, we happened across Fast Rabbit – a fun and edgy street side vegan eatery.
We sampled the Thai wrap with peanut sauce and their version of cheese fries.
The fries tasted like a cross between nachos and poutine – but in a good way I promise.
And for dessert – some delightful mini cookies.
Fast Rabbit is located on Eberswalder Str. 1, 10437 Berlin, Germany. https://www.facebook.com/fastrabbitfood/
In the interest of keeping this guide relatively succinct, I have included only a selection of the restaurants and cafes we visited. Truth be told it was also hard to lug the camera around at all times, but here are some final honourable mentions that I would definitely recommend:
- Kopps – a high end vegan restaurant serving 4 or 5-course plant-based dinners, fine-dining style. Pricey, but truly a one-of-a-kind culinary experience. http://www.kopps-berlin.de/en/
- Voener – Vegan doner kebap done right. My pictures from that night were too mediocre to share, but their signature kebap is incredible. http://www.voener.de/
- Soy – a stellar Vietnamese restaurant in Mitte, the Pho bowls made for a hearty warm and filling first dinner in Berlin. http://www.soy-berlin.com/
Until next time, dear readers.