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  • Vegan Travel Guide: Berlin

    As the vegan capital of Europe, and home to its first 100% vegan supermarket, Berlin has long been top of my vegan travel bucket list. Thanks to Airbnb and a very cool, obliging sister I got the chance to go during a hot and steamy August last year.

    Berlin is a diverse, cultured, cosmopolitan, bohemian, alternative, multi-cultural city with disparate architecture, a fascinating history and free-thinking, progressive locals. Devastated during and after WWII and subsequently divided by the Berlin Wall, 1961-1989, Berlin’s history is unique and fascinating. The River Spree has 979 bridges which gives it an Amsterdam feel, as does the impressive network of cycle lanes; Berlin boasts 710 bikes per 1000 residents.

    We stayed a centrally-located apartment in Mitte with a huge balcony overlooking Monbijiouxplatz Park and brilliantly our Turkish hosts had prepared us a vegan guide to Mitte which became our Baedeker . When you go,  don’t miss the East Side Gallery, Fernsehturm in Alexanderplatz, the Holocaust Memorial, Jewish Museum, Neues Museum and Checkpoint Charlie. Understandably, David Bowie once called Berlin, ‘the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine’.

    It wasn’t just the much anticipated list of vegan restaurants to discover in Berlin, the real bonus is that you can eat vegan food everywhere; sandwich bars offer vegan toasties, an old-fashioned-looking pub had an all-day vegan breakfast, there were kosher cafés, Asian restaurants, old-school German hotels, every vein of eatery you can imagine – and the coffee shops all offer a choice of milks for that all-important soya latte.

    The following are just some of the eateries that we sampled.

    Veganz – Freidrichshain is Europe’s 1st 100% vegan supermarket opened in 2011. Incredible. EVERYTHING is vegan! And the café next door is sumptuous. There’s also a vegan shoe shop and cocktail bar upstairs. Not in the same room.

    The former East Berlin district of Freidrichshain is lively and trendy with cafés, bars, books shops, vintage clothing and graffitied walls. Think Rive Gauche meets Camden but with less Goths. It’s arty and alternative and no surprise that it’s the hub of vegan Berlin. There’s even a veggie hotel and spa here. Now that sounds like an excuse to go back.

    Vegan Cake

    Kopp, Linienstrasse – a top-notch, all vegan, classy restaurant, whilst still down to earth. We sat outside and watched the nonchalant cyclists rule the road. The food was divine; intense red pepper compote, chanterelle mushroom tagliatelle with foam, aubergine cigar, cheese board to die for. We ate so much on our first night we spent the next 4 hours recovering on our balcony. My tip would be not to order the cheese board and the mango & chocolate lava cake.

    Beetroot

    Cheese Board

    If I have a quibble it’s that the waiting staff patently refused to pander to my valiant attempts to practise German. I taught Joy, ‘köstlich’ (delicious) and, being the sister with all the guts and people skills, she continued saying it to everyone until she was finally acknowledged. It was a small victory, and not my own, but it was a start.

    Shiloa , Torstrasse – a Kosher veggie café that didn’t seem to mind staying open just for us and produced a wonderful plate of Israeli Mezze starring a smooth Jerusalem Hummus topped with tahini sauce.

    Amazing hummus

    Samadhi, Wilhlemstrasse –Asian restaurant specialising in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine a stone’s throw from Brandenburg Gate. I had crispy-coated tofu with an aubergine curry, a surprising find so near to the touristy drag.

    Tofutastic

    Little Green Rabbits, Jägerstrasse – whilst not veggie they have the option of substituting the protein option in the pick-your-own salad bar with cubes of marinated tofu.

    PIck Your Own Salad with Smoked Tofu

    Caras, Hardenbergstrasse – coffee shop in Mitte with tubs of vegan salads to go and the best bean (coffee) in town.

    Chipps – Jägerstrasse, not veggie but the tomato bruschetta for breakfast kept me going all morning and changed how I view breakfast forever.

    Veganz Café – Freidrichshain: (an off-shoot and up the road of the supermarket) has beautiful fresh food with interesting ingredients and inspiring combinations. I had iced matcha tea with coconut milk, lemon quinoa salad and a chocolate-walnut brownie for the plane on the way home. That’s good food by anyone’s standards, for Easyjet’s it’s ambrosial.

    En'joy'ing a smoothie in Berlin

    En’joy’ing a smoothie in Berlin

     

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