Europe*, known for its stews, sausages, cured meats and cheese, can seem like an unlikely place to find plant-based dishes, as vegans have unfortunately discovered over the years. It wasn’t unheard of for an unsuspecting non-meat eater to innocently order what appeared to be a plant-based dinner only to find a dish cooked in pork fat or covered in an undisclosed cream sauce. But, like everything in life, times evolve and things change. Due to innovations in plant-based meats and a conscious shift away from animal products for the benefit of the environment, even the heartiest of European countries are now offering some tasty vegan culinary delights. Here are our five cities, known for their meat-centric cuisine, where you can find plenty of vegan options.
From beef goulash to chicken paprikash, Hungarian dishes are centred around a hunk of meat. However, if you’re in the country’s capital you’ll find an increasing array of restaurants offering meat-free alternatives. Get the hearty warmth of Hungary’s national dishes at 827 Kitchen, a buffet with vegan takes on classic plates that change daily (the tofu is one of our faves). Afterwards, head to Fill Good cafe for a sweet treat—the cinnamon rolls are almost as good as my mum’s!
Polish cuisine is known for dishes that would keep any hunter happy, as pork, duck and fish all vie for dominance, so savouring the same flavours without animal products can pose a challenge. If you’re in the Polish capital, head to Vegebistro, where traditional cuisine is given a vegan twist—think perogies and polish dumplings, with potato and “cheese” fillings. If you’re on the sightseeing trail, pop into Krowarzywa, a vegan burger chain that has locations all over Poland.
Prague, Czech Republic
Like its Eastern neighbours, the Czech Republic isn’t known for vegetarian delights. But don’t fear: In Prague, vegan places are popping up all over the city. Head to Lehka Hlava, a cosy restaurant serving vegan takes on everything from “Tofoie gras”—a smoked tofu pate—to Czech favourites such as seitan roasts with red cabbage, dumplings and gravy. If you want something more last minute try Chlebíček Store for freshly made vegan sandwiches with fillings such as guacamole, hummus and beetroot purée.
Spain might have some dishes suitable for vegetarians but vegans have to work a little harder, as much of the cuisine features eggs, cheese and fish. In the Catalonian capital, you’ll find BarCeloneta, a tapas restaurant with one major difference: Every dish is vegan-friendly, even the paella, which comes with tapioca prawns! If you’re looking for something fresher, stop off at Vegan Bowls, a casual spot that offers plant-based “tuna” poke bowls and donuts so good you can’t just have one!
The Emilia-Romagna region is known for its rich cheese and meat dishes, but don’t worry: Italians haven’t forgotten non-meat eaters. In Modena, you’ll find Bottega Vegana, a restaurant dedicated to offering Italian delights such as red turnip carpaccio and local speciality piada (folded sandwiches) with vegetables and vegan mayonnaise. Alternatively, visit loVeg for their scrumptious vegan lasagna and tortellini that is made fresh every day. It wouldn’t be a trip to Italy without gelato so a trip to Bloom Gelato is a must, with 30 percent of its ice creams being vegan—we like the gin blossom sorbet—you can definitely indulge!
*This article was produced pre COVID-19. Since the pandemic, travel regulations are in constant flux. Borders and businesses may close temporarily or permanently. Please travel safely and check out the Open Travel Index for up-to-date information on restrictions and regulations.