I knew that my first Thanksgiving as a vegan would be out of the ordinary—but I never expected to find myself scouring the city of Krakow for vegan eats while the rest of my family sat down to a turkey dinner back home in the US.
A few months after I went vegan, my boyfriend and I left home to go backpacking in Europe. I was determined to stick to my plant-based diet no matter where we ended up. When we decided to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Poland, I briefly wondered how we would celebrate—after all, traditional Polish cuisine is heavy on pork, sausage, cheese, and beef.
But after our first meal in Krakow, it was clear that we couldn’t have picked a better place to spend the holidays. For the rest of our time in Krakow and Warsaw, we ate like every day was vegan Thanksgiving. Here are a few of my favorite restaurants that are bringing the vegan movement to Poland!
Best Vegan Food in Poland
I grew up in New Jersey with Italian grandparents, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit Italy myself—I’ve sampled countless pizzas in my lifetime. I expected to find my favorite vegan pizza in Rome, but the real winner was this spicy veggie pie from Krakow’s Pizzatopia. Their vegan mozzarella is nearly indistinguishable from the real thing, and all of their pizzas are baked to order with their homemade artisan dough. I was able to pick all of the toppings I wanted to create my own pizza, so I added a little extra heat with jalapeños and chili olive oil. It was so good we went back for seconds a few days later!
Bonus: Pizzatopia is right next door to Cupcake Corner Bakery, which offers several vegan cupcake flavors for dessert.
Despite the name, you won’t find any beef burgers here—this 100% vegan restaurant serves up plant-based hot dogs, soups, wraps, and a refreshing variety of flavored lemonade. But the real highlight of their menu is the vegan version of a traditional Polish snack, zapiekanka. Imagine spreading typical Greek gyro fillings onto half a toasted baguette, and you’ve got zapiekanka! They’re especially popular in Krakow’s Jewish district, Kazimierz. At Farma Burgerownia, I got zapiekanka made with tomato sauce, vegan cheese, yogurt sauce, pickles, mushrooms, greens, and vegan chorizo.
Kebabs are a late night staple all across Europe. You can’t head home after a pub crawl without stopping at a kebab shop to satisfy your munchies. Since most kebabs are stuffed with meaty fillings, I hadn’t eaten one in months—until we stumbled across Vegab, a vegan kebab shop in the heart of Krakow. For the most unconventional Thanksgiving dinner of my life, I ordered a kebab overflowing with tofu, sprouts, leafy greens, marinated pineapple, and mango salsa. I was skeptical at first—but I changed my mind after the first bite. It was just the right combo of sweet and savory flavors, all wrapped up in a thick, fluffy pita pocket.
Vege Miasto was one of the first vegetarian restaurants in Poland, with a goal of bringing diverse, ethical choices to Warsaw. Now, their menu is completely vegan, and their American sized portions at Polish prices are a great deal for travelers on a budget. From the moment we walked in the door, we could see that we had made the right decision—it was already packed, and they hadn’t even hit the dinner rush yet.
I could barely finish my beet risotto, which came with a crunchy side of gluten-free papadums for scooping. But somehow, I found room for a slice of raw vegan cheesecake. They also have a pasta menu, made with their homemade sauces—my boyfriend loved his spaghetti pesto. Later in the week, we came back to Vege Miasto for lunch, and this time, we decided to try their Russian pierogi. It may not look fancy, but the potato, onion, and tofu filling inside was the real treat. For the hungry traveler craving something a little sweeter, they also have dessert pierogis stuffed with fresh berries!
After all of the delicious vegan junk food we discovered in Krakow, it was time to detox with some fresh fruits and veggies in Warsaw. Mango Vegan Street Food is a healthy vegan cafe with a Middle Eastern twist where you can grab smoothies, vegan kebabs, shakshouka, burgers, sweets, and more. They have two locations in Warsaw. I opted for a delicious mango smoothie, a falafel wrap, and a side of sweet potato fries. They also have coffee and hot chocolate, so it’s a great spot to recharge and stay warm on a snowy afternoon in Warsaw.
Vegan sushi might sound like a strange choice for dinner in Warsaw, but we couldn’t help but feel curious when we saw the rave reviews for Edamame Vegan Sushi. They base all of their platters off typical sushi roll flavors, like California rolls, nigiri, maki, futomaki, and tempura—no fish necessary!
After drinking cups of jasmine tea and snacking on edamame (of course), we decided to split the 40-piece California platter. All of their sushi rolls are made with purple rice coated with sesame seeds and stuffed with yummy vegan fillings like avocado and tempeh. While I would never say no to vegan pierogi, Edamame is a good choice if you’re looking to mix up your meals and try something new on your trip to Warsaw.
Have you been to Poland? Where did you enjoy dining?
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Photo: Respective restaurants (directly under each link), Jane Harkness