I will be the first to admit that I was shocked at the plant-based food options in Germany. To quickly catch you up: David surprised me with a trip to Germany for my birthday slash Christmas. It was amazing and I wrote all about it here. If you followed along on my Instagram Stories, you may recall one of David’s hints was “You may struggle being vegan here.” When he finally told me, it totally made sense. I assumed Germany was the land of bratwurst and schnitzel, right? I could not have been more wrong about that.
We visited Germany, and specially Bavaria which is in the southern part of Germany, in December when the Christmas Markets were in full swing. We ended up eating most of our meals at Christmas Markets for several reasons: 1) It was delicious 2) There were lots of choices in a small area meaning we did not have to compromise and chose one restaurant and 3) there were plant based options! Disclaimer: I was not 100% plant-based, vegan, or vegetarian on this trip. However, I was always on the lookout for vegan and plant-based meals and would order it when it was available.
An important note: The word “vegan” in German is “vegan.” This was a wonderful gift when looking at menus. Most things were marked as vegan if they were in fact vegan. In fact, some places specifically put “vegan” on their signs to indicate they had plant-based options.
Longos: A Hungarian fried-dough topped with yummy veggies and cheese (if not vegan). The fried dough was to die for. Honestly it tasted like funnel cake dough except it lacked some of the sweetness, making it the perfect vehicle for tasty veggies. I ordered the “paparika” vegan one which came with a salsa-type mixture of roasted veggies, fresh sliced tomatoes, garlic and oregano. I was pleasantly surprised how good it was. The dough was thick enough so it stayed together the entire time I was eating it but think enough so I cold eat the whole thing. Vegetarian option: Any of the vegetable toppings plus cheese and/or tazikbi yogurt sauce.
Potatoes: It’s no secret potatoes are a large part of any well-rounded German diet. Potatoes come in many forms: fried, boiled, steamed, mashed, pureed, if you can dream it you can probably find it in Germany. You have your classic pommes (which are thick cut fries in the US) which are widely available. I had an amazing dish at Nuremberg’s Christmas Market which consisted of freshly boiled potatoes pressed through a ricer which mashed them. It was then topped with your choice of green curry or sauteed mushrooms and crispy onions. You also have your classic potato pancakes. We frequently saw these served at Christmas Markets served with a side of aphfel (one of the only German words I know), apple sauce. Potatoes are a pretty safe bet when eating our at a Germany restaurant.
Burgers: I read German’s recently hopped on the gourmet burger train and that could not have been more true. We saw a number of restaurants dedicated to hamburgers as well as stands at the Christmas Markets. To my delight, veggie burgers frequented the menu alongside the classic hamburger! The veggie burgers were usually bean or lentil based and served with classic hamburger toppings. I found this to be a great option when I wanted a little heavier of a meal that was high in protein. They were also typically cheaper than the hamburger making it a budget-friendly option!
Soup: Suppen is a staple German meal in the cold months. There were at least two soup options on most menus. Goulash is the most common you will see and that is served with beef so that is not vegan (obviously) but there are also goulashes served with mushrooms and potatoes. Pumpkin and winter squash soups were usually the vegetarian soups offered. Soups can be tricky when it comes to hidden dairy products. I did my best to learn the words for milk, cheese, and butter to ask the server if any dairy products were in the soup. I think I was probably 50/50 on if I asked correctly and if they knew if there was dairy in the soup.
Ethnic Food: Afgan, African, Thai, and Mediterranean were just of the few types of ethic food I ate while in Germany. I found the restaurants to have a lot of vegan options whether that be falafel, vegetable curries, or mysterious vegetable stews. Ethnic food was typically a pretty safe bet when it came to eating plant-based. My meals were always very filling and chocked full of vegetables, specifically greens- which can sometimes be hard to find in the German diet.
Vegan butter and cheese: Believe it or not vegan butter and cheese were options on the menu! I saw these as options on several occasions: 1) at a German soft pretzel stand, both were options (though there was a hefty up-charge) 2) A baked potato stand in a small town in Bavaria and 3) A bakery! These are not wide spread options throughout Germany, well Bavaria at least, but they are out there if you look. Don’t be afraid to ask either!
Vegan Chocolate: David and I have a thing for Ritter Sport chocolate. If you have never had it, I highly recommend it. It is delicious and sweet and the flavors are endless. However, it is not vegan, well at least most of them are not vegan. I did find one that is vegan. From the packaging it looks like it has hazelnuts (my personal favorite) and crisps in it. I’ll report back once it has been eaten, which will be asap.
Supermarket: Whether you are craving a home cooked meal or cannot seem to find a vegan meal that sounds good, hit up the supermarket. I try to book accommodations that have a kitchen in case I am in the mood to cook one evening. We did this on more than one occasion in Germany. It also saves lots and lots of money, but that’s for another post. The supermarkets in Germany have a “bio” section which I think means organic, but I found this section to also have quinoa, grains, and speciality vegan products. This was usually the section we found the best selection of things we were looking for. It also made the supermarket seem a little less intimidating.
If you are vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based do not shy away from visiting Germany based on their diet. There are lots of healthy filling options available in small towns and large cities alike. If you find yourself in Germany in December, the markets are a great place to look for a plant-based meal. Otherwise, enjoy and gooten appetit.