It’s funny how I had been to Berlin a number of times over my life and never knew that one day I would find a totally new appreciation for it. Don’t misunderstand me–I always liked the German capital, but after my most recent trip there, I would go even further and say I’m slightly obsessed.
The reason for this is not only its tremendous amount of history, its extremely laid-back vibe (which could seem counter-intuitive at first for Germany) but truly its ridiculous amount and omnipresence of high-quality, creative, delicious, and affordable vegan options.
As a country with a heritage of recycling and a decent history of organic food (that’s an understatement!), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Germany has the largest vegan and vegetarian community in all of Europe. And even better than that, the German vegan scene seems to peak in Berlin.
My 4-day trip wasn’t enough to even scratch the surface of vegan fashion, beauty, and food in the German capital, but it truly made me excited for my next trip to Bear City.
When it comes to the ease of access to vegan options, Berlin is killing it. DM, the german version of Duane Reade, carries a huge choice of vegan food and beauty options (from Müsli to Indian ready-to-eat dishes to mascara), casually displayed across various isles across their stores. Vegan labels are pretty much calling you from the selves all over. It’s not different at Bio, an affordable, smaller version of Whole Foods, which is all-organic, with, again, a huge selection of vegan foods, makeup, creams, and even condoms. Keep in mind that organic grocery stores are way more mainstream in Germany than in the US. I also stocked up on Müsli–the german grandfather of granola–and was in heaven when I discovered all kinds of different flavors and types such as a ginger Ayurveda Müsli with some nut clusters from Hari Crunchy.
I was also blown away by the Bäkereien (bakeries)–there are a number of chains that cater to all public and offer vegan pretzels, Laugenstangen (pretzel sticks), Brötchen (German-style rolls), and even croissants and other sweet treats. Again, all clearly labeled, not more expensive than the rest of the selection, and super unpretentious.
Berlin is definitely a vegan restaurant Mecca, too. Acai, chia and granola bowls are trending like they are in the US, but they are a tad cheaper than they are in in NYC.
Superfoods and Daluma are two options around Hackescher Markt. I tried an avocado smoothie, an acai bowl, and a coconut yogurt bowl with nuts at Superfoods, and the “I want everything” at Daluma. I was impressed with the freshness and yumminess and found that the options were less sweet than their counterparts in the US.
Jivamukti is an American based yoga chain with studio and cafe locations across Europe. They also happen to have two locations in Berlin and are offering a daily selection of soups, “belegte Brote,” Müslis, and salads in jars as well as smoothies, shakes and baked goods. All vegan of course. I enjoyed a Dahl there as well as some sweet potato fries with peanut butter parsnip dip.
Bowl is another casual option for quick apps, salads, and smoothies. Their location is right next to Veganz, a German vegan grocery chain (my true happy place!). We shared some apps at Bowl, and I stocked up on vegan goodies, especially chocolate from Australian-based Pana, at Veganz.
Living in New York, the western birth-place of hipster food markets, I used to think that we have the best street food in the Western Hemisphere at Brooklyn pop-up food markets, but I was proven wrong! Markthalle Neun hosts a weekly breakfast market from 10 am to 4 pm, and vegan options are ample. I fell in love with Tofu Tussis, a women-owned tofu business where I had an amazing tofu burger on black bread as well as a soy mango lassi.
We also tried vegan droughts at Brammibals–note that they were phenomenal and didn’t have holes in the center. Instead, they are stuffed with vanilla custard or plum jam. Oh yeah.
Vegan Tiger was (almost a surprise discovery). It’s a little vegan cafe adjacent to a charming bookstore in Prenzlauer Berg. I tried their fresh quinoa avocado salad and a green smoothie. Totally hit the spot.
We also ordered in one night. So New York, I know. But the delivery joint Foodora has an impressive choice of vegan options, so we tried out vegan Vietnamese food from Bistrot. We enjoyed amazing sweet and sour tempeh as well as soy chicken, and I also loved the fresh mango salad.
I often just focus on food when I travel, but I had heard about vegan clothing in Berlin and decided to check it out at Dear Goods and Loveco. I wasn’t disappointed and actually stocked up on some basics. Truly impressed with the brand selection, I must say it made me hugely nostalgic of European fashion. The mix of German, Scandinavian, and British brands was impressive. Most clothes there are fair-trade and organic, too. Spending money never felt so ethical 😉
Finally, Avesu is an all vegan shoe chain with locations across Berlin. I was a little bit less impressed with their selection–lots of sneakers. Also, they were selling Matt and Nat but not many options for other, a little more feminine shoes. I did get myself an all-vegan pair of Birkenstocks at their flagship store and am hoping they will roll out more vegan colors and designs, too.
Bottom line: I have opened Berlin’s vegan pandora box and really can’t wait for more. Being and living vegan seems to be easy and affordable in the European capital. Danke Schön Deutschland!
Have you sampled the vegan eats in Berlin?
Also by Isabelle: 3 Artisanal Vegan Cheeses To Serve At Your Next Happy Hour
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Photo: Isabelle Steichen