Growing up with a German mother and a Spanish father meant spending Christmas in Germany every other year, and the rest in Spain. Every country has its own traditions, and I love both of them for different reasons, but one thing I would always look forward to when we spent the holidays in Germany were the ‘Weihnachtsmärkte’—Christmas markets where you’ll find everything from artisanal wooden bowls and tree decorations to piping hot foods and drinks. They usually open for the first time during ‘erster Advent’—which was two weeks ago, and means there’s only 1 week left until Christmas!
It’s the time of year when grandmas are busy in the kitchen baking all the ‘Plätzchen’ (Christmas pastries), the ‘Adventskranz’ gets put on the table and lit for the first time, and everyone just seems that little bit happier all the time, like they know Christmas is just around the corner.
True, a staple of these markets is your typical ‘Bratwurst’ and ‘Glühwein’ (mulled wine), but being vegan doesn’t mean you need to miss out on all the fun! Here’s your guide to filling up your belly at these markets…the vegan way.
- If your hands are freezing and you want something that will be just as good at warming you from the inside out as it is at warming your hands, try finding the stall with hot apple cider with cinnamon—it’s an alcohol-free option for those of you who prefer to avoid it, and also super healthy and delicious. If you’re craving something sweeter, go for the ‘Punsch‘ (sweetened warm fruit juice), or try asking the people working the stall if the wine used in their Glühwein is vegan—sometimes you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
- Now to the food, because walking around the markets in the dead of winter obviously makes anyone hungry, and one needs sustenance to help make the trek through the rest of the beautifully decorated stalls less daunting. Some cities are lucky enough to have stands with vegan versions of the traditional Bratwurst (for a truly authentic experience!), though they’re unfortunately often not the healthiest (and soy-based). If you’re feeling adventurous, or just don’t see vegan ‘Bratwürste’, buy some roasted chestnuts instead, or see if the crepe stands have a vegan option. Many cities also have a stand with chocolate-covered apples and bananas (these are vegan if it’s dark chocolate—yum!), or offer the typical roasted apples with cinnamon and raisins that everyone associates with Christmas. ‘Gebrannte Mandeln’ (candied roasted almonds) are also always there for those of you with a sweeter tooth.
- Every Christmas market at every city is, of course, a little different, but these are the options that are available at most. Bigger cities, such as Berlin, will have more options (and some even have entirely Vegan Christmas markets, such as Hannover, Hamburg, Leipzig, and Duisburg…!).
As you can see, vegans need not worry that they’ll be left hungry at Christmas markets—if anything, we might be seen rolling out of there because we tried one too many things, or because we just ‘HAD’ to try that last stand with our absolute favorite snack.
Enjoy the last week until Christmas, and try as many of the options as possible. Even if you don’t think there’s anything vegan, ask! You might be pleasantly surprised, and if not, you’re still raising the demand for vegan food…and sellers at stalls will eventually adjust to meet that new demand!
What’s your favorite thing about Christmas markets?
Also by Rebecca: Winter Red Lentil Dahl With Cauliflower & Pumpkin
Ancient Grain Breakfast Protein Bowl
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Photo: Alisa Anton on Unsplash; Rebecca Botello; yacelle via Instagram