Where to find vegetarian and vegan food in Germany – our top tips for a vegetarian in Germany.

Where to find vegetarian and vegan food in Germany – our top tips for a vegetarian in Germany.
Fresh bread is a good choice for a vegetarian in Germany.

Travelling as a vegetarian in Germany does not seem like an easy task on first glance. Stereotypical German food does not look vegetarian-friendly, that much is true. 

Foods that spring to mind when I hear the words “German cuisine” are pork knuckle and bratwurst. And while these foods are as popular as ever, meat isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Vegetarian food in Germany can be as hearty and comforting as the meat further up the menu. You just need to know what you’re looking for first. Particularly, if you’re visiting Bavaria.

Travelling as a vegetarian in Germany can be simple if you stick to the big cities. 

Restaurants in Hamburg, Berlin and Munich will have a good selection of vegetarian dishes on the menu. 

The same cannot be said of smaller towns in rural areas such as deep in Bavaria or Baden-Wuerttemberg.

A range of vegetables, fruits and soya products.

How Popular is Vegetarian Food Germany?

More popular than you might think. Vegetarianism has been growing in Germany over the last ten years.

According to Statista (2020) the number of people identifying as vegetarian or flexitarians is roughly 6.5 million. This number has increased five-fold over the 6 years prior.

Demand for vegetarian and vegan-friendly products has increased recently. Plant-based products now make up a substantial proportion of the new food products launched per year.

That being said, more vegans and vegetarians are based in the bigger cities like Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart than small towns. This is a trend you see in every Western country across the world.

A large plate of German-pasta with cheese topped with fried onions and chives. This is Kaesespaetzle

Käsespätzle - the vegetarian go-to

Let me introduce you to Käsespätzle. You might become well-acquainted with this dish if you’re a vegetarian tourist visiting Bavaria.

Käsespätzle is a plateful of German pasta buried in melted cheese. Topped off with a little sprinkling of fried onions for fun. If you’re looking for so-filling-I’m-never-eating-again food, this is the ticket.

So, as I was saying, a traditional Bavarian restaurant does cater for vegetarians – if you’re willing to eat the same thing for every meal, that is.

German bread sliced up on a board ready to eat.

Abendbrot - a traditional meal

Literally translated as Evening Bread. This is a traditional evening meal eaten across Germany.

Families up and down Germany gather for dinner to eat slice bread with a selection of meats, cheeses, salad and antipasti.

It’s similar to the famous open sandwiches you see in Scandinavian countries. It is a simple meal but even restaurants and biergartens may serve this as part of their evening offering.

As a vegetarian in Germany, you can’t go wrong with eating breads with a selection of cheeses, olives and vegetables for your evening meal. This is very easy to prepare.

A stack of round loaves of rye bread dusted with flour in a bakery in Germany

Traditional German Bakeries

Germany is the land of bread. It is said to be the country with the most varieties of bread in the world.

A lot of the German bread varieties are also vegan-friendly. At the end of the day, bread is wheat, yeast and water.

When looking for something to eat on the hoof, a bakery should have something for the vegan and vegetarian tourists in Germany.

We recommend the traditional pretzel if you’re visiting the south of Germany. In larger cities, some bakeries may have vegan or vegetarian symbols on the product cards.

If you don’t eat dairy or eggs, watch out for any sweet breads and pastries in the bakery. Once again, if in doubt, just ask for the ingredients list.

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Are German pretzels vegan?

Mass produced German pretzels are nearly always vegan. 

If you are buying a pretzel from a large bakery chain in Germany such as Backwerk, your German pretzel will be vegan.

Occasionally pretzels will be made with milk. You’re more likely to find pretzels containing dairy if they are homemade rather than in a bakery.

The best way to know if your Bavarian pretzel is vegan is if you ask the person selling the pretzel to you. Always check if you’re uncertain.

Read all about Bavarian pretzels here.

Flammkuchen - a German-style pizza

A thin dough made out of flour, olive oil and water is rolled out thinly, then spread with crème fraiche, chopped onion and cheese.

Often it is topped with ham but can also be served without. Other toppings include mushrooms, leeks, tomatoes and roasted red pepper. These ingredients make it a great option for a vegetarian in Germany.

Flammkuchen is often served in biergartens, at festivals and in many restaurants. It is also something you can pick up at the supermarket – just check it doesn’t have ham on it first!

Pizza - a classic vegetarian food

When in doubt, find your closest pizzeria. Germany has great pizza, made fresh to order and often cooked in a wood fired oven.

It might not be traditionally German, but Pizza is the easy choice for vegetarians abroad. If you’re a vegan tourist in Germany, just ask for the pizza to be made without the cheese – the phrase “ohne Kaese” should help you there.

And if you’re not into pizza, a lot of pizzerias will offer pasta-based dishes. Just watch out for any added cream or cheese if you’re vegan, the words you need to know will be “Sahne” and “Kaese”. Double-checking that it’s vegan-friendly is always wise!

Just make sure you double-check the menu because peperoni in German is not the peperoni we often see on pizzas in English-speaking countries.

Dumplings with Mushrooms

These might be called Semmelknödel, Kartoffelknödel or Kartoffelklöße. They are made out of bread (Semmel) or potatoes (Kartoffel), and sometimes a mixture of the two (halb und halb).

There are also sweet dumplings such as semolina (Grieß) and prune (Zwetschken). You’ll often find these on the dessert menu at restaurants or even at a fairground.

What do all these dumplings all have in common? They are a great vegetarian food.

The savoury dumplings are often served alongside meat and red cabbage. But you’ll also find them served up covered in mushrooms and sauce. This isn’t vegan-friendly as it does contain dairy.

Fully-stocked refridgerated shelves in a German supermarket.

Vegetarian and Vegan food in German Supermarkets

Supermarkets in Germany have been steadily expanding their range of plant-based products over the last decade. You’ll now find a good selection of vegan sausages, plant-based milks and vegetarian sandwich options in most German supermarkets.

Even the discounter supermarkets now have a good selection of plant-based meat alternatives.

Organic shops are another good place to find vegan and vegetarian food in German supermarkets. You’ll want to search for “Bioladen” or “Biomarkt” to find an organic shop.

Most organic shops in Germany will have meat and dairy alternatives, for example plant-based cheese, soya yoghurts, dairy-free chocolate, oat milk and seitan products.

Most towns in Germany have at least one Bioladen. It’s a good place to pick up the essentials if your struggling to find vegan food in German supermarkets.

Two opaque bottles containing plant-based milk alternatives

Plant-based Milk in Germany

Germany has the whole range of alternative milks. You will find rice, coconut, almond, soya and oat milks on the shelfs – they might not all be on one shelf but larger supermarkets in larger cities are bound to have the whole range.

Plant-based milk in Germany is easy to find in cafes as well. When ordering, check with the barista which vegan milks the café has on offer.

Supermarkets and cafes in smaller towns and villages in rural areas of Germany may not have a good selection, but there is nearly always an alternative milk option in Germany, wherever you may be.

Get in touch!

What have your experiences as a vegetarian in Germany been like? Did you find it easy to find vegan or vegetarian options? Let us know in the comments below.

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