Sep 4, 2013

Travelling Vegan: Bavaria, Germany

Europe always elicits a sort of fear for the vegan in me. Italy was a breeze, but Germany is  a scary proposition. Germany is notorious for their love of beer and sausages and they make no qualms about it. Of course there are cities like Berlin which are very vegan friendly, but this trip was planned to be very different. We were going to places where very few Indians would've ventured, so finding vegetarian or vegan food was kind of out of the question.

Our journey began with taking the Etihad flight to Munich via Abu Dhabi. My requested vegan meal came without a hitch. We reached Munich in the afternoon ready to hit the streets with our friends. The only problem was Europe was going through a major heatwave since the day before we landed and we were welcomed with 40 degrees of sweltering heat.

I've never seen a more deserted city. Munich shouldn't be allowed to call itself a city. The roads were empty except for the main square Marienplatz which was full of tourists, the Metro was not crowded at all even at peak hours and the subway stations gave an impression that everyone had left the city.

Munich has a few vegan restaurants, but I had made a rule before I embarked on this trip. My rule was that I would not go out of my way to find a vegan restaurant. I wanted to be able to manage with whatever was within reach. It's different if you are travelling with other vegans, then you don't have to go out of your way to eat at a vegan restaurant  or shop at a vegan supermarket because there is a common interest there. It's unfortunate that lots of vegan restaurants and stores are far from most city centers. I wanted to be able to tell stories of how I managed to find vegan Sauerkraut at a Biergarten or how I found rice milk at a small grocery store. For me the joy of finding something vegan where you least expect it is much more than having to travel 1 hour to a vegan supermarket because there was one luxury we did not have on this trip - time. If I didn't find anything vegan at a restaurant, I always had fruits, nuts or salad vegetables that I could buy from a supermarket to feed myself.

The first thing we did was hit a Biergarten (beer garden) called Hirschgarten in Munich. If you drink beer, you should know that German beer is treated like liquid gold everywhere else and also the Oktoberfest is Germany's most famous festival among the alcoholics. They celebrate their beer varieties and they ought to do so. Once you get a taste of German beer you wouldn't want to drink the glycerin flavoured stuff we make in India. There isn't much food at a Biergarten for a vegan. Having been to one Biergarten in New York, I knew what to expect. They usually serve a few salads, some of which are vegan, Tomatoes in Brine, Sauerkraut (make sure it has no bacon), Pretzels and Shaved Radish.

Munich's very own Augustiner Beer


Meal at the Biergarten

There is a bakery on every street in Germany and many of the breads are vegan. The bakery staff are aware of the ingredients. I had an advantage because I had a German friend doing all the asking for me. If you don't know German, it's best to know the key words so they understand. Most of them speak English, but it never hurts to write a few translations down or have a phone with internet handy.

German Breakfast Bread

Munich houses a fully vegan supermarket called Radix Naturkost, unfortunately we were too far from it. While we were doing the usual touristy things around the city center we realised we weren't too far from a vegan restaurant. So we made our way on a very hot sunny day to Max Pett.


Outdoor Seating at Max Pett

Max Pett is a fully vegan restaurant that serves German and Mediterranean dishes veganized. I even found Palak Tofu on the menu. They also boast a dessert menu that made it harder to choose from. Being in Germany, I thought it best to try something German. I went for the Allgäuer Käsesplätzle which is cheesy pasta served with caramelized onions, a dish that comes from the Allgäu Alps in Bavaria. This is something served to kids in Germany since they love the cheese. My Käsesplätzle was served in an iron pan so that it remained hot while I ate it. The pasta was made with spinach which gave it a nice flavour but overall the dish was a little too cheesy for me. I enjoyed the first half of the dish, but towards the end I was struggling to finish it because I was so full. The thing is once you are vegan long enough, cheesy stuff doesn't appeal to you any more. I may be speaking for myself here. My non-vegan troupe loved this and also gave it the German approval.

Allgäuer Käsesplätzle
For dessert I chose another traditional German dish, Kaiserschmarren which are pancakes. Max Pett serves this with a housemade Apple Sauce and sprinkles a generous amount of icing sugar on top. It was wonderful and again got the "better than the eggy, non-vegan version" tag.

Kaiserschmarren
Another German fast food that a lot of us spicy-tongued Indians would like is Currywurst, literally translated means curry sausages. It is traditionally a fast food dish consisting of chopped up sausages and french fries topped with generous amounts of curry ketchup and mayonnaise. The curry ketchup is very strangely Indian in flavour and is available in three levels of spiciness- mild, hot and very hot. We found one restaurant in Munich serving up a Veggie Currywurst which replaced the sausage with a tofu based sausage. I asked them to leave the mayo out from mine.

Vegan Currywurst

Vegan Tofu Sausage with a generous helping of the curry ketchup

It is a fast food dish so it is not the healthiest but hits a nerve with its coriander and turmeric flavoured curry ketchup. I brought home some of that ketchup and the currywurst curry powder to make my own curry ketchup. What I did not realise is that the ketchup could have MSG, so if you are allergic to MSG then it's better to ask/avoid.

We also stopped at a very beautiful restaurant on the Autobahn at Irschenberg called Dinzler. Dinzler is a coffee making company from what I have come to understand and this is meant to be their quick service restaurant. But what an amazing property they have. The restaurant is a large, open space with huge windows overlooking the Bavarian Alps. They even have a coffee factory in the basement. They are known for their coffee, but I am not a coffee person sadly. We stopped there for lunch and they were more than happy to veganize a salad and a pasta for me.

Mixed Greens Salad with Endive


Farfalle with Sauteed Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes and Pine Nuts


Our next stop was an Alpine Hut on the Hochfelln mountain. We parked the car below the mountain and trekked up for about an hour and fifteen minutes until the hut. The hut houses rooms where you can spend the night and also a restaurant that serves very traditional German dishes. I took my packet of nuts and cookies with me because I knew I was going to be the only vegan on that mountain. But I was wrong. I met many fellow vegans on the way. Only they didn't eat at restaurants, had these amazing muted bells around their necks and walked on all fours!

My fellow Vegan


Aren't they beautiful?!

Grazing and Chilling

I eventually learned that this is how many Europeans like to travel. They bike or hike up mountains, have a drink or two at a restaurant situated right up there and then cycle or walk down. Then they continue biking, hiking, driving in camper vans through mountains and camp at various campsites. This was where our actual trip began because this was how the rest of the trip was going to be. We were going to camp through the Alps and the only reason we would stop on our journey would be either to take a dip in a lake or eat or pitch a tent under the stars and sleep.

View from Lake Königssee

Passion Fruit Sorbetto from a Lake Königssee Gelateria

My next post will be all about camping and how I survived with supermarket food!



Also look who I found through Vegan Mofo today. Sticking with my German vegan theme, I looked up bloggers from Germany and this is who I came across:

Mihl, from Dresden, Germany over at Seitan is My Motor is veganizing classic German Desserts all this month. Check out her Bee Sting Cupcakes. How cool are they!

Check out Elle over at VGNGF who has made a Curry Vermicelli Soup. Time to put my curry powder to use!

23 comments:

  1. I love love love reading about your travel posts, Rithika! For me, the most important factor in planning trip is eating a lot of good, vegan food. So it's extremely inspiring to me to watch you just go anywhere with the intention to "manage" and still end up finding so many delicious vegan goodies to enjoy. :)

    The camping sounds like so much fun. :) I'm looking forward to your gorgeous photographs and read all about your experiences camping in the Alps.

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  2. I enjoyed reading this! I think I'll try out that autobahn restaurant when we drive from Istria to Belgium.

    I think the reason why it looked like everyone had left the city was because they probably had! Schools are closed in July and August for the summer holidays and people leave on holiday so life slows down.

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    1. Thanks Isabel! You should try that restaurant.

      The holidays hadn't begun in Bavaria then and we were told that is how "crowded" the city is! :)

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  3. looks like one awesome trip. that gorgeous lake and the pastures. i am game for all that bread and some Currywurst

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    1. I'll make some for you when you come to India! I have all the ingredients! :)

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  4. Interesting post. I always learn something new when I read posts like yours about Germany. Especially since Bavaria is a foreign country to most other Germans, too.

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  5. Oh, and thanks for the shoutout. Which brand of ketchup did you buy? I can look up the MSG thing for you if you want. (And I have a currywurst recipe on my blog.)

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    1. Thanks Mihl! I'm going to look for that recipe on your blog!

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  6. I hope the cone was vegan. :)

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    1. It was! :) It almost always is, but it's better to ask.

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  7. Awesome post! I always visit the website www.happycow.net , before traveling to a new city...

    These days you get vegetarian and vegan food in AIRPORTS across United States. I always try to go to whole foods or trader joes, where you get vegan cupcakes, vegan cookies, bread and much more...

    With some planning it is possible to enjoy our trip by being a vegan...

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    1. Thanks Kumudha! I do the same too! Very helpful.

      The US is very vegan friendly. Europe is getting there slowly.

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  8. What a beautiful post and website! I'm so glad I found your site!

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    1. Thank you! You have an awesome site yourself!

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  9. great post. i am planning a trip to Germany next year and try out everything there is in the Veganz supermarket! cant wait!

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    1. Thanks Joslyn! Have a great trip and hope you get to try everything at Veganz!

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  10. The cutest little town I have ever seen and with the most amazing seaside. It has tall rocks, Best Camping Hammock 

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  11. Hello
    Fantastic the post.
    My vegan experience was 7 months ago, when I was visiting Denmark, I stayed at a vegan couple's home where I tasted vegan foods and confession: I SURPRISED, especially in countries like Germany, I was impressed by a variety Of vegan options in Berlin.
    After this fact begins to interest me by vegan style of feeding.
    I hope that here in Brazil this culture will be accepted and valued as fast as possible, thinking about it. I created a website with easy vegan recipes, with the help of importing videos from a YouTube channel, to try Help how people understand this Better lifestyle and better eating.
    http://www.vegan.mundodynamico.com

    ReplyDelete

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