How does one survive in Germany without meat? In fact, it's not as hard as some may lead you to believe, says Katherine Price, and you won't have to live off sauerkraut
Here are our top tips for eating in Germany as a vegetarian – and not a sausage in sight!
Breakfast is a pretty easy obstacle to overcome – breakfasts are big, sit-down affairs in Germany, so whether you're staying with a family or in a hotel, you should be able to find something among the huge spread you're likely to encounter.
Breakfast in Deutschland often consists of a mixture of brötchen (little bread rolls), cereals, strong coffee, juices, sliced meats, cheeses, eggs, jams, nutella, fruit, yoghurt... there are so many possibilities. It's not hard to find a breakfast option to suit you; the sliced meats and eggs are easily avoided, you needn't go hungry.
Dutch cheese is incredibly popular in Germany, especially Gouda, Edam, Emmental and Leerdammer. Spreadable cheeses with chives and peppercorns are also widely available, and delicious spread thickly on top of a seeded roll.
Kaffee und kuchen, or coffee and cake, is a fairly normal lunch option for Germans, and they do it well. There's usually a bakery on every other street with poppyseed cake, quark cake, crumble cake, strawberry cakes in the summer... and the coffee is wonderful.
You will also find bakeries with plenty of cous cous, salads, pretzels and cheese baguettes in most sizeable train stations. Alternatively, a warm food option for lunch is the many Turkish fast food outlets that you often find around the bigger cities in Eastern Germany. Often serving falafel in bread with all sorts of salad, red cabbage, carrots and cucumber, and some with similar versions with halloumi, there are plenty of options.
Dinner is probably going to be the toughest meal you'll face in Germany as a vegetarian, but there are options, even in traditional German restaurants. Like any other restaurants, German restaurants will have soups; in fact, lentil soups are rather popular, as of course are tomato soups, and they're a damn sight good at salads, too. Potato salads are incredibly popular, especially further south, and will often be a side to bigger dishes, but they are filling in themselves.
When it comes to mains, there are traditional German options; it doesn't have to be just pizza and pasta. The Germans do fantastic things with cheese; one of the most popular German specialities is käsespätzle, a sort of pasta bake/macaroni and cheese dish, which is splendid, and sometimes comes with broccoli, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables, too. Just make sure that it doesn't come with bacon, which is occasionally added in. Breaded cheeses are also widely available, sometimes marketed as 'vegetarian schnitzel' – breaded goat's cheese, breaded camembert with cranberry sauce and Cordon Bleu are truly scrumptious.
If cheese isn't your thing, then a rösti might be – grated potato is fried together as a sort of pancake, and it's far more flavoursome than it sounds. A lot of traditional German dishes also come with dumplings, but they can be served as a main in themselves; soft and filling, it's not often you find them on their own with mushroom sauce, but they can be found in certain areas. There are also lots of dishes based around asparagus, or spargel, around Karlsruhe, in the Baden-Württemberg region, where it's a huge export
Flammkuchen is also an option. Traditional German flammkuchen is German-style pizza cooked with thin bread dough and comes smeared with crème fraîche and scattered with onions, marjoram and bacon, but many restaurants are flexible and offer other options.
Watch out for 'grill parties' in Germany – they can trip you up. If you are staying with a host family or seeing German friends during the summer, then at some point you will probably be invited to a barbecue or a 'bring a dish' house party. Bring supplies with you to the barbecue – avoid the meat substitutes and instead buy your own vegetable/tofu kebabs, easy enough to find in supermarkets. There will almost certainly be several different varieties of salads, pasta salads and potato salads at any house party, but do make your own to ensure you're not left hungry.
And watch out – some Germans do not understand that any vegetarian food has to be put on the grill first without any other meat products. Make sure that if you explain this to whoever is in charge of the grill!Are you a vegetarian? Have you survived a visit to Germany? Let us know below...
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