vegansaurus!

02/27/2013

Why aren’t you eating horse, omnivores?  »

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If Americans are being honest with themselves—if anyone who eats meat is being honest—there is absolutely no reason killing horses and eating the yielded meat is intrinsically worse than the thousands of other animal killings that happen in slaughterhouses around the country every day. If you’re alarmed that the wrong meat was slipped into your frozen lasagna, that’s reasonable. (Vegetarians, of all people, can appreciate the perils.) But if the very thought of killing horses disgusts you in a way that killing cows or pigs does not, you are entertaining an odd delusion that eating a big steak cut from a cow is elegant while eating similar meat cut from a horse is low-class and vile.

Dreamy meat-avoider Cord Jefferson has some words for outraged, snobbish omnivores regarding Europe’s ever-expanding horse meat scandal.

As vegans, we obviously want all meat-eating to stop, but until then (FIGHT FOREVER, PLANT-BASED SOLDIERS) we can at least point out the blatant hypocrisy involved in turning your nose up at horse meat and then gleefully eating cow organs. You shouldn’t be deceived by food labels; nor should you think that eating any one animal’s flesh is morally superior to another.

What do you think? Are you horrified and a tiny bit smug but totally keeping it to yourself because no one wants to hear from the smug vegan?

[Photo by Eduardo Amorim via Flickr]

12/10/2012

Confirmation: Loving Hut in Istanbul is legit  »

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YOU GUYS THIS IS VERY EXCITING. It’s a dispatch from my sister! Something you should know about my sister — she is a world-traveler extraordinaire/jet-setting juggernaut. She recently lived in Istanbul for awhile and explored many of the tasty vegan eats there with her awesome fiancee and my niece WHO IS THE CUTEST AND SMARTEST AND BEST CHILD ALIVE. I currently have it in the works to baby-nap her but let’s just keep that between us. Moving on!

One of my sister’s favorite places to eat in Istanbul was Loving Hut! The Supreme Master’s cult chain of delicious-ass eats is perfect for when you need a dose of yummy vegan meat in a foreign (to you!) land. Here’s what my sister had to say:

I’m not sure what all the Loving Hut restaurants have in common other than their names and veganism because LH Istanbul bears no resemblance to any of the other ones I’ve been to.  That doesn’t matter though, because LH Istanbul is DElicioius!  It’s a teeny-tiny little place with maybe five outside tables and a chalkboard menu.  It’s known for its burgers and they didn’t disappoint.  The burger patty was moist and flavorful and it came with a yummy vegan mayo plus pickles, lettuce and tomato.  My VERY non-veg boyfriend even enjoyed it.  I had a pasta topped with veggies and seitan sausage.  It was delicious, although, I have to say, my American stomach was not happy with the tiny portion.  Veggie baby Jane enjoyed both the burger and pasta immensely.  

All in all, we had a great experience.  On a side note, Turkish vegans are all about respecting animals and healthy living…except when it comes to smoking, ‘cause they were all lighting up!  Oh, and absolutely NO signs of Supreme Master. No Supreme Master TV, no pictures of her or of veggie celebrities, no sort-of-Vietnamese food — nothing!  

There are only a handful of veggie places in Istanbul and this one is consistently rated the best on HappyCow.com. So, if you’re in Istanbul, head to the Besiktas neighborhood (which is a really fun neighborhood to hang out in) for a meal and some shopping and sight-seeing.  

Update:  I just asked about SMTV and lo and behold, there’s a teeny-tiny TV screen tucked away inside playing it!

ROAD TRIP???

08/27/2012

Guest post: Eating vegan in Barcelona!  »


At first glance, Barcelona doesn’t seem like the vegan-friendliest city. This is bull-fighting country, after all. You see butcher shops everywhere, tempting though completely NOT vegan pastries in bakery windows, and smell not-so-pleasant wafts of seafood in the air. But frankly, I was surprised with how many vegan choices I’ve stumbled upon during my various visits to this city. Barcelona is not only full of amazing buildings, museums, and churches—it is quite progressive when it comes to food. I’ve been lucky enough to travel here three times (for work, mind you, but yeah, I know) and I always discover new vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants.


I found the awesomely named Cat Bar on my last trip to Barcelona. An all-vegan bar named after my favorite animal!? Oh my, I think this could work. Owned by U.K. ex-pats, Cat Bar is a cozy little joint in El Born (the best neighborhood!). Weirdly, it is located right next to a cycling shop that sells San Francisco’s Chrome Bags, so I felt very much at home. I was super-hungry from a morning trip to Park Güell, so I ordered a veggie burger and a pint of BrewDog, a vegan beer brewed in Scotland. They have an eclectic, ever-changing menu with options like quiche, sushi, hummus plates, goulash, and gluten-free chocolate balls, as well as local beers from Barcelona and the Catalunya region. Cat Bar’s website is terrible, so just check out their Facebook for more information. They also have this handy map to navigating Barcelona’s vegan scene.    


Juicy Jones
is another favorite when I’m visiting BCN. They have a large, sit-down restaurant in the Raval neighborhood (which, to me, is the most intriguing and mysterious of all the Barcelona neighborhoods) as well as a smaller spot with counter-only seating near the Barcelona Cathedral. Juicy Jones is crunchy. This is dreadlock zone, folks. But having living in Santa Cruz for many years, it’s not a big deal to me. As the name implies, you can get various kinds of freshly-made juices and smoothies. They have rotating specials, including an Indian-inspired thali rice plate. My favorite, however, is the tofu bocadilla. A bocadilla is a sandwich on a hard roll, and in Spain, they loooove them bocadillas. The roll at Juicy Jones is fantastic; crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. My bocadilla was garnished with sprouts, lettuce, tomato, and some sort of vegan pâté. The hummus plate is also quite good, though it has nothing on Maoz.

Oh yeah—they have Maoz here! Vegansaurus has already sung the praises of the mind-blowing all-veg falafel joint that is Maoz. There is one location in Barcelona close to La Rambla on Carrer de Ferran. Another great “para llevar” (takeout) place is Wok 2 Walk, which is just up Carrer de Ferran from Maoz. When I’m working, I live off this place. You pick a noodle or rice (stay away from the egg noodles, obviously), your favorite ingredients (vegetables, tofu, pineapple, etc.), and a sauce (I like the curry coconut). A dude whisks it all up in a wok and in minutes, you have a giant to-go container of stir-fry. While it might be tempting, don’t grab an Estrella Damm beer with your dinner. Sadly, Spain’s ubiquitous cheap beer is not vegan. 


La Bascula is a rustic restaurant in a defunct chocolate factory tucked away in an alley in El Born. The old-school European ambience alone is enough to visit at least for a café sin leche, but the food is pretty good too. It is mostly vegetarian, but there are a few solid vegan options. I went there for lunch and had a satisfying seitan bocadilla, but when I went back for dinner on another visit I had a fantastic zucchini, tofu, and lentil dish served with basmati rice. Sesamo is a little fancier, and perhaps more “autentico” than some of the other restaurants listed here. They have vegan and vegetarian tapas (small plates), and the standout is a dish of roasted vegetables with vegan goat cheese. The rocket salad with pear (pictured) is not only beautifully presented, but also damn tasty. They also serve ENORMOUS cocktails.

Cruising around La Rambla and need a pick-me-up? The open-air market off the Rambla, La Boqueria, sells fresh juices for just 1 euro. Gelaati! has both soy and rice milk-based gelat,o as well as fruit sorbetto, which is a must if you’re visiting Barcelona in the summer. I ate it in February, however, because a little rain can’t keep me away from my gelato. If you run out of cruelty-free toiletries on your travels, the chain Natura is a good bet for picking up soap, shampoo and more. They’re everywhere—even in the Barcelona airport!

If you’ve tried all of these places (I salute you!) and want to find something else, Barcelona has its very own guide to vegan/vegetarian restaurants and shops, aptly called Sin Carne. ¡Felices viajes! 

Ginny Mies is a lifelong Northern Californian who loves long -istance running, metal, margaritas, and is way too amused by her cats. She’s also Mission Mission’s vegan correspondent.

[Photos: Top, the author; second, Niklas Pivic via Flickr; third, David Boudreau via Flickr; fourth, Emilie Hardman via Flickr]

08/07/2012

Guest post: Vegan exploration in the Eternal City of Rome!  »


Organic plate at Cavour 313.

Cheese-laden pizzas and an emphasis on meat-based pasta sauces, with plenty of veal and offal thrown in too? On initial impressions, Rome is any vegan’s nightmare.

When I trundled off on a solo trip to the Eternal City in spring this year, it was my first time as vegan. And lo and behold, it wasn’t nearly as difficult to eat well here as I anticipated.

Let’s start with the bad, and go on to the good.

The bad bit was breakfast. I love my breakfast, I really do. But wherever I stayed, usually the most I was able to eat was some packeted dry toasts, and jam, with maybe a banana or an apple. There were, however, always plenty of cheese, eggs, croissants and other non-vegan things to choose from at breakfast. 


There were two mornings that I relished, though. This was when I was staying at vegetarian eco-hotel The Beehive for a couple of nights. What a gem this place is. One morning I enjoyed apple cinnamon oatmeal made with soy milk, and another morning I was delighted to be cooked a tofu scramble.

Yes—tofu scramble! In Rome! The Beehive was also the only place that was able to provide me with soy milk to take in my tea (I am English, after all), and the owner said they were due to hire two vegan chefs this year. So they may be able to offer even more to vegans from their cute café now.

Eating at other meal times was mostly fine, as long as I studied menus well and hunted around. It is good to be prepared and have an idea of some places to go to and what to eat or not – but I don’t have to tell you that, do I?

As a rule, you’re fairly safe with the vegetable contorni dishes: eggplants, artichokes, bell peppers, and so forth. They will be cooked in olive oil and you can order several and make a meal from them, with some delicious fresh bread and olives.

You will often see potato croquettes, chickpea salads, hummus, and other vegan-friendly items on menus, too. Gnocchi in tomato sauce is another possibility, as well as the ubiquitous pizza marinara, which is simply pizza base with tomato sauce. Order some vegetables and top it yourself.

Rome does have a few vegetarian and vegan restaurants, and if you’re here for a week, theoretically you could go to one each night (I think).

The best experience for me was Il Margutta. Gourmet vegan cuisine at its finest, where my meat-eating companion also claimed it was the best food she’d eaten during her trip to Italy. It’s not a budget option, by any means, but if you’ve come all the way here on holiday, then treat yourself.


Fresh imaginative flavors abound; my vegan antipasti was a delicate combination of tofu-stuffed zuchini flowers deep-fried in a tempura batter, an Asian wok salad topped with pickled ginger, a wild berry salad drizzled with balsamic dressing, and a home-made ketchup, tasting of tomato, and not sugar. Oh vegan heaven.

My other great vegan discovery was Bibliothè, not far from Piazza Venezia. Here, they do a different set lunch menu each day that you can have, and they will take out any vegetarian elements that may be involved. They also have several vegan stand-alone choices, as well as vegan cakes.

And then there was also the originally named Taverna Vegetariana, close to Vatican City. It wasn’t the most inspiring food that I have ever had, but it is cheap, cheerful, and you know what you’re getting. They have color-codes on the dishes to denote whether they are vegan or vegetarian; very handy when you don’t speak Italian.

Though not exclusively veggie, another place I ate at a couple of times was a bar in the cobbled streets of Trastevere. At Art Two, you can buy a drink, and for only 2, help yourself to the aperitivo buffet, which has several vegan options (eggplant, potato croquettes, salad, etc).

I also had a scrummy vegan meal at an Ethiopian restaurant called Africa (Via Gaeta 26), just north of the main railway station. There were not many vegan options, but this one meal of a selection of foods was filling and delicious, and made all the better by the fact I had to eat with my hands.

There were a number of other eateries that I sadly didn’t manage to experience on this visit, including a vegan restaurant called ReWild Cruelty-Free Club—funny little name, but it does what it says on the tin, which is offer cruelty-free dining as well focus on animal rights events in Rome.

If you’re going to Rome anytime soon, I hope this article has given you some vegan food for thought. One other tip: Watch out for risotto. It may appear vegan, but it almost always contains parmesan, which isn’t even vegetarian.

Andrea Wren is a U.K.-based freelance journalist and has a passion for vegan baking and food blogging. She ditched dieting years ago and loves to create interesting and imaginative dishes that tempt non-vegans as well as vegans. On her blog, you will also find her free ebook, Wot, No Eggs?! The Beginner’s Guide to Becoming an Expert Vegan Baker, packed with tips and advice. You can also reach Andrea on Twitter.

02/27/2012

Warning: scary video. This is a recent video from Animal Equality reveals cruelty at a pig farm in Spain. For those who don’t want to watch it, basically it’s pigs being stabbed with swords. Towards the end it gets super graphic while a pig is disemboweled. Yeah, not for the faint of heart. 

Three of the workers in the footage have been arrested. I haven’t heard anything about supervisors getting in trouble but according to Animal Equality:

Animal Equality has found that these events occur frequently on the farm El Escobar owned by Francisco Vera Sanchez, and that the farm managers are aware of this. In fact it is they who request these actions, have been filmed engaging in them, and have established these methods as the norm for killing animals at the farm.

El Pozo, the company said to be the retailer for this pig farm, seems to be a very big brand in Spain. It is also readily available in the UK. I can’t tell if it’s imported in large amounts to the US. 

Are animal farms the same all over the world

Share this fun video with all the bacon lovers you know! If they want to enjoy their fried muscle and fat, they should at least be witness to where it comes from.

12/02/2011

Factory Farming = Antibiotic Resistant Superbugs. Europe Gets It.  »


Some wonky science policy news from “across the pond,” as they say: Last month, European scientists and leaders talked some big talk about how the massive insane horrible quantities of antibiotics used in factory farming are going to kill us all. 

The bad news? The massive insane horrible quantities of antibiotics used in factory farming are going to kill us all.

The good news? At least some officials, somewhere, admit it. “Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most serious public health challenges that we face,” says the head of Europe’s version of the CDC. And yup, overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is one of the big culprits.

This story gets really wonky really fast, so if you want details I’ll refer you to Wired.com's coverage. But I just thought you should know, so you can be saving up for your plane ticket and your villa in France. Budget option: Stay in the U.S. and buy a hazmat suit. Hipster budget option: Buy a hazmat suit on Etsy.

[photo modified from an image by friendsoffamilyfarmers on Flickr]

06/11/2011

YO! Laura here! I’m travelling to Moscow, Athens, & Crete. Know of any veg eats???  »

Hello, friend! It’s Laura! I just wanted to give you all a heads-up that imma be out of the country for a couple weeks and the other Vegansaurs got your back and the site will be better than ever in my absence. I also thought maybe these fine (as in good looking) readers of ours might have some tips for me?

Have you been to Moscow, Athens (and day trip from Athens suggestions!), Santorini, Hydra, or Crete? And if so, what did you do/see/EAT (of particular interest)? Any travel tips or anything useful you wish you’d known before you went to those places. Let me tell you, getting that Russian visa was NO JOKE. I chronicled some of my issues here but HOO BOY—that Russian consulate is a TRIP! I can say this because I know some Russian people and we’re cool and also I’m totally racist, but GOD LOVE A RUSSIAN WOMAN. I dealt with at least three who looked exactly like Danny Devito, just with all different colors of dyed hair. You have not lived until you’ve been yelled at by a yellow-haired Danny Devito, a red-headed Danny Devito, and an orange-headed Danny Devito, all in the same day. ANYWAY, I’ve got my visa so I’m legit to enter the country (I PRAY) and now I need to know what to do! HELP! One lovely reader has already hooked me up with some info but I’m always looking for MORE!

And if you must know—the reason for the trip is some good friends are getting married in Crete and my shit hasn’t been anywhere in five years and you’re all driving me crazy and MOMS HAVE LIVES, TOO. We’re flying through Moscow because those were by far the cheapest tickets and who doesn’t want to see the Cosmonaut Museum? Plus, I plan to bring blue jeans and pens and be greeted like savior! I am a little worried about flying on Aeroflot since they don’t have the BEST history of not crashing in fiery flames but KNOCK ON WOOD.

From the many reviews for the airline I’ve read in attempt to make myself even more freaked out about flying them, I learned three things: 1. There might be chickens just wandering the aisles on my flight; 2. There will definitely be lots of cigarette-smoking on my flight (didn’t even know you could still do this!); 3. I will definitely be yelled at by a flight attendant at least once and maybe be made to sit in a seat that’s basically in the lavatory. Also, check out their uniforms! Hammer and sickle!
VACATION ALL I EVER WANTED!

And with that, leave your tips below or please email me! Oh and I’ll try to tweet a bunch so you can follow me on twitter if you wanna get the 411 on who is pissing me off while on VACATION ALL I EVER WANTED: 2011.

06/10/2011

Eating vegan in the South Caucasus: pastry from Luca Polare, and tofu from Picasso!  »

I went to Tbilisi last weekend; it’s a pretty all-right city. Maybe if my semester of “volunteering” here in Georgia hadn’t totally burned me out, I’d appreciate it more, but never mind my bad attitude. If you’re ever in the area (ha), definitely spend a few days in Tbilisi. The people-watching is amazing, and if the weather’s nice I highly recommend drinking some cheap beer in a park. If you act extra-ridiculous, the police officers will applaud you.

This is vegan apple strudel from a gelato cafe called Luca Polare in old Tbilisi (34 Leselidze St.). It’s adorable. They had two vegan items in their case, and I bought them both and shared them with a bunch of my omnivore pals later; they loved them too. It’s good to get confirmation from disinterested parties, as being deprived of vegan cuisine for so long can make you believe everything you’re eating is the best thing ever.

This is (most of) a cherry tart. Isn’t it the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? The filling was quite delicious. I took these pictures with a Blackberry, because I left my actual camera’s USB cord at home! I’m forgetful! We’re lucky I remembered to photograph these little treats at all before they were devoured, frankly. Lots of drinking in Georgia! It’s the birthplace of wine!

And bonus! Two reviews in one. More vegan food in Georgia, freaks!

BAM:

It’s “doufu” from a Chinese restaurant in Tbilisi! Nearly all of us from the February 15 volunteer group met up for one last time together in Georgia (awwwww) and on Friday night we ate at this Chinese place—I believe it’s Picasso—that had like four tofu dishes in its “vegetables” section. AMAZING. Two of my friends and I split three dishes, and one of them was this tofu and it was so good, oh man. Those green things are totally cucumbers! There were also peanuts! Everyone at the table who tried it was totally envious of us and our bean curd, which was the first I’ve had since February 12, oh I miss it so much you guys.

[Thanks to Gina Catallo for the photo!]

05/25/2011

Breaking news: vegan travels in Eastern Europe, does not die of starvation!  »

Vegan traveling can be rough. A two-week trek through Peru five years ago left me exhilarated by the stunning beauty of the Andes and Machu Picchu but at least 10 pounds lighter. Seriously, I starved. I like to think I survived due to the twin graces of those lovely Hare Krishnas who own the Govinda’s chain of vegetarian restaurants, and beer—it’s like liquid bread! I was bracing for a similar experience in Bulgaria. In addition to mastering the Cyrillic alphabet and learning enough rudimentary Bulgarian to mitigate my tourist buffoonery, I was not heartened to read this from Lonely Planet:

Vegetarianism remains an alien concept to most Bulgarians, but it’s relatively easy to follow a meat-free diet here. On the down side, variety may be lacking and those with an aversion to cheese may find their options very limited…. Omelettes, vegetarian pizzas, and pasta dishes are common, but note that ‘vegetarian’ meals may simply mean that they include vegetables (as well as meat) or fish. Sometimes this designation doesn’t seem to mean anything at all. Vegans will have a much harder time.

The authors go on to describe a series of Bulgarian dishes they assume are what I, as the frantic vegan researcher I am, want to hear about. All but one of these involve cheese or eggs or eggs and cheese together. Fried cheese! Scrambled eggs with cheese! Cheese fried and stuffed with egg, then baked in more cheese! Okay, I’m kidding about that last one, but would you really know? I think not.

The internet was about as helpful as the Lonely Planet guys, which is to say, NOT. A search for “vegan Bulgaria” yields a bunch of forums in which nervous-sounding vegans plead for advice on what they’ll be able to eat during their visit. So you will forgive me for thinking I was about to starve. I was totally psyched to see the Balkan landscape, the Black Sea, the grand cathedrals and mosques, the rolling hills through which the Thracians (did someone say Spartacus? Bad. Ass.) once roamed. But I thought I was going to starve. On the off chance that anyone reading this is preparing for a trip to Eastern Europe generally, or Bulgaria specifically, I want to urge you to take heart! Bulgaria is a beautiful country, more than worthy of an extensive trip to linger in the university cafés of Plovdiv and be hypnotized by the insanely blue waters of the Black Sea and look at ruins and fortresses and monasteries until your eyes bleed. As a bonus, I am here to testify that not only is it totally possible to find vegan food in Bulgaria, but it is not the “alien concept” our friends at Lonely Planet say it is. Maybe things have changed dramatically over the last couple of years since they joined the EU, or maybe the folks at Lonely Planet don’t give a shit about the plight of vegan travelers. (Hint: They totally don’t.)

In addition to a host of meat and meat products, prepared in just about every way my tiny brain could fathom—and then some, almost every Bulgarian restaurant also offers some kind of boiled, roasted or barbecued vegetables. Additionally, nuts are ubiquitous. There are other dishes that show up on almost every menu, like risotto, but I personally fall in line with Captain Marty’s skepticism about soup, and I feel like it applies equally to cooked grains of any description. All any intrepid and enterprising vegan needs to know—I think this may apply equally to almost any language (correct me if I’m wrong, you cosmopolitan vegan travelers of the world)—is the word for “without” along with the words for “meat,” “meat stock,” “butter,” “eggs,” “cheese,” and the like. I know that right now you may be feeling overwhelmed. That’s a lot of words, right? But what else are you doing with your brain while you aren’t learning how to order food in Bulgarian? Go forth and starve not.


Vegetarian hot pot in Bansko. After asking for a completely vegetarian meal, the server told me that this dish was “for me.” My mother’s cheese-drenched Shopksa salad is in the background. I would hate to give you the impression that Bulgarians, unlike Americans, don’t drench every item of food in cheese. ‘Cause they totally do. Especially salad.


The bean-stuffed baked potato in Sofia was vegan when they left off the no-doubt copious layer of shredded cheddar cheese. Those bits on top that are maybe making you suspicious are actually very thinly sliced, caramelized onion. Complete protein was a bit challenging, so I was ecstatic after locating this dish. 


Barbecued vegetables in Burgas. These were perfectly cooked and so delicious that I insisted on returning to this restaurant three of the four nights we spent in this seaside university town.

Marla Wick lives in Sebastopol, a small community in Sonoma County, California, where people never change out of their yoga pants. She spends her time cooking, baking, knitting, and raging about politics when she’s not working as a freelance editor and writer. She blogs about food, animal ethics, cultural politics, and horror movies at vegan-squared.blogspot.com and www.bullypulp.com.

11/09/2010

A vegan in Central Europe: Vienna, Krakow, and Budapest!  »

When I go on crazy trips, the first thing that pops into my mind is “WHAT AWESOME VEGAN FOOD AM I GOING TO TRY?!” I guess I’m special that way. Picture it: Vienna, Krakow, and Budapest. Nine days, so much awesomeness.

First stop in Vienna: Formosa. It’s off of the Neubaugasse shopping strip, and it’s magical. A family-owned grocery/cafe with… get this—VEGAN BOBA! And they sold Go Max Go chocolate bars and Primal Strips. The food I got (a chicken sandwich) cost 3,90€ and was all right, but nothing to write home about, though I guess I am anyway? Definitely worth a visit, more for the boba and available grocery items than for the food.

The star of Vienna was for sure Bio Bar. It’s significantly fancier from the order-at-the-front café style of Formosa. I think the place is run by a man in the front and his wife in the back. We loved the food so much we went two nights in a row!! I got gnocchi with pesto and artichoke hearts the first night; the gnocchi was a little gummy, but I thought the flavors were spot on and I finished the entire plate. On the second night I got a gluten-free meal: a soy patty with a scoop of mashed potatoes. The spices in the patty were fucking incredible, and the whole meal was so filling. Their chocolate cake wasn’t all that great. I think it had some sort of agar-agar-based filling, and I was expecting more of a mousse texture. Overall, the atmosphere was perfect. Entrees cost from 8€ to 15€ and it was around 2€ to 5€ for dessert.

Another place you might want to stop by while your there: Maschu falafel. It’s REALLY good falafel, not so good service. And while we didn’t get a picture of the food, we certainly filled up on it.

Next stop (don’t question our trip-planning) was Krakow. I felt it was the smallest city of the three that we visited, so it was pretty easy to go to the edges of the city to try amazing vegan food. We went to four places: Vega, Momo, Green Bar, and Mlynek Café.

Vega had a really really nice atmosphere: tables with linen cloths and candles in the center. You order at the front and pick up from the bar. The menu they give you is sort of useless; it just gives you an idea of what kind of food they have. The food they actually serve changes daily, and my planned meal wasn’t available when I went. For 19zł (around $7 US), I got a plate of vegetable goulash with rice, bean salad, and lentil soup. The food was so-so, the bean salad was the real winner I also ordered a vegan smoothie which was basically a bunch of fruit juices, for 9zł. SO YUMMY. It had blueberries in it. It’s been ages since I’ve had blueberries!!! We weren’t impressed with this place overall and didn’t make a return trip.

Momobar was next on our list. It’s in the Jewish quarter of Krakow. The interior is very humble and the atmosphere is pretty casual. Their cuisine is described as Tibetan fusion. Most everything there is vegan, except for a couple of cakes. We tried the two available vegan cakes, and ate them first, obviously. I tried an apple-crumble-type thing with sunflower seeds on top; my friend got their banana cake (pictured). 

The cakes were both SO yummy; flavorful, spot-on texture, I could have eaten them for millennia. The dish I got was the place’s namesake. Momo was Tibetan dumplings filled with finely chopped vegetables and lentils, served with a spicy sauce. I licked my plate clean. My friend tried their hummus and toast and found the hummus to be a little weird, texture-wise. I remember paying about 20zł for my delicious dinner. This was definitely one of my favorite places the whole trip.

After a draining day visiting Auschwitz, we stumbled into Green Way to unwind. They had limited vegan options, but really tasty orange juice and enchiladas. The side-salad sticks out more in my memory than the actual enchilada—the dressing was THAT good. Again it cost around 20zł, but the meal fell a little short because of how fast the food was. It is given to you literally seconds after you order it, so the components of the meal are pre-made, then assembled as you order. I think it made the food a bit generic, and I wouldn’t recommend for anything beyond a really quick, assuredly vegan meal. There are certainly better businesses to patronize in Krakow!!

Our last stop on the trip was Café Mlynek. We saw these 10 percent discount cards for the place all over the city, which made me a little skeptical, but I so shouldn’t have been. It was far and away my favorite restaurant of the entire trip. Candle-lit, beautiful ambience—The only veg Krakow restaurant where we didn’t order food up-front. There are limited vegan options, but I got to try the cheesecake they recently veganized and a veganized traditional Polish Hungarian* food: lecso (LETCH-oh). We had cake first, obvs. The cheesecake was beautifully presented, but could have been a little sweeter/more flavorful. It cost 10zł and I would probably order again. The lecso was fucking INCREDIBLE. It reminded me a lot of channa masala without the indian spices: tomato and chickpea stew with garlic and onion, served with a side of bread to dip and enjoy in. I wanted to bathe in this dish, basically, it was so hot and fresh when I got it…. Oh man, just remembering it makes me hot. It cost 15,50zł and was worth every goddamn penny. IF YOU GO TO KRAKOW YOU MUST MUST MUST GO TO MLYNEK CAFÉ! That is an order!

On to Budapest. Unfortunately, my camera broke a couple months ago so I was borrowing my friend’s. Then her camera ran out of juice partway through our trip, so you’ll just have to use your imaginations. If you like falafel nearly as much as I do, you’ll love Hummus Bár. We went there like three times, not joking. They have two locations; the one closest to our hostel, the Kértész location, was completely vegan; the other one was not. The food? SO yummy. A student-discounted meal cost 720Ft (Hungarian Forint), which is around $3.70! Pictured is a shot of a laffa-wrapped falafel. Their falafel is so fucking flavorful, I miss it so much.

We also tried Napfényes Étterem. I think they were having an off night or something, because our service was fucking atrocious. But to their credit, the food they served was phenomenal. I got their special for the night, which was a Thai rice curry. While I didn’t really get any Thai flavor-notes, the food was extremely well prepared. And in a huge-ass portion; it was crazy. The star of the night was the vanilla cake I got there. IT WAS SO GOOD. They top it off with some Soyatoo whipped cream. I almost died. I loved it so much, I dragged my friend into the outskirts of Budapest to visit their bakery.

The bakery. The lovely lovely bakery. I am a fan of baked goods. A fanatic, even. And this place was fucking…ridiculous. I wish we had had a camera!! But look at their homepage: their pictures don’t exaggerate how great the food was. They had all sorts of goodies: oatmeal-cherry-raisin cookies, coconut-chocolate millet balls, lemon cake with a thick creamy frosting (I got the pleasure of trying it, and I don’t care how fat my ass got), the same vanilla cake I got from Napfényes Étterem, crème-filled phyllo squares…. I could go on, but I don’t want your food boner to break your computer screen. PLEASE GO THERE IF YOU ARE EVER IN BUDAPEST. It is amazing. And pretty cheap, as most everything in Budapest is. It’s a completely vegan bakery. Completely vegan. They even have some savory pastries using Cheezly, they’re that fucking crazy awesome. We were smart enough to walk there and back to burn off the insane amount of calories we must have inhaled.

So, that concludes my crazy Central Europe adventure. Aside from the fact that I’m still living in Prague for a while longer! Lots of veg food from this side of the world coming your way! And I’m checking out the Mecca of Maoz in a few days: Amsterdam!! Lastly I wanted to plug HappyCow for helping me with my vegan journey.

*Our Hungarian pal and sometimes contributor Vi Z. informs us that lecso is in fact a tradional Hungarian dish. Thanks for keeping us culturally and culinarly accurate, Vi!

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