While Ellen whisked herself off to Benidorm, I found myself floating across the sea towards the Netherlands. Once, when I was a humble vegetarian just starting my journey towards a meat-free diet, I visited the Dutch capital and found it fairly difficult to find good food. In 2018, I can happily report that’s no longer a problem. In fact, eating vegan food in Amsterdam is an absolute pleasure.
This time around, I traveled with a fellow vegan – my friend Richard. Together, we wanted to experience all the best food in the roughly 24 hours we would be in the dam.
The ferry we got sails overnight, and both ways we drank plenty of beer and ate food we’d brought with us. I’d wrongly assumed there were no vegan options, but I did spot some on the menus. However, the prices are exorbitant – so it’s up to you if you choose to pay them. We just ate olive bread and hummus and drank bacardi.
Vegabond, Leliegracht (Pt. 1)
Vegabond was established in 2014, I had already briefly nipped here on my last visit and took Richard here immediately after leaving the DFDS ferry in the morning. Hungry for more than just breakfast, I ordered a hummus wrap and a smoothie. Richard opted for a Spelt sandwich with vegan brie and walnuts. I wolfed down the wrap – which was delicious but could perhaps have done with more filling to counterbalance the hummus. Richard said he enjoyed his spelt too. The smoothies were much-needed after the ferry crossing.
Vegan Junk Food Bar, Staringplein
We rented cycles from Discount Bike Rental (would recommend these guys, great service and no dodgy chagres) then zipped around the city. I’ve never cycled in Amsterdam before but I don’t understand why – it was great. We pedelled our way to Vegan Junk Food Bar, a diner that serves up delicious Seitan and Soy products. Unsurprisingly, considering its name, it’s all vegan ‘junk’ – but when you’re not eating dead animals, suddenly a burger seems healthy-ish.
I chose the vegan Shawarma, which was always a favourite dish of mine back in the day. It came in a burger bun, absolutely packed to the brim with Shawarma, mayo and sauce. I also got a side of chips, which were seasoned well and tasted delicious. One gripe is that I had to pay on card – while I appreciate the idea of doing away with cash, when you’re a tourist who has exchanged euros it’s a bit annoying not spending them.
Richard had a double burger, which I had a bite of – it was also spectacular. Each ‘main’ came without chips, and once you’d added them it was around 16 EUR each for meals. Pricey for the UK, but considering eating vegan food in Amsterdam is similarly pricey at every venue, it was so, so worth it.
Meatless District, Bilderdijkstraat
After getting rid of the bikes and heading back to the hotel to chill out, we wanted to find somewhere to enjoy a proper sit down meal. Meatless District was just the ticket, a swanky little establishment in the west. I had a sunshine bowl consisting of cold noodles, smoked tofu, kimchi and lotus root crisps. Richard chose a spectacular tagliatelle. My bowl was exactly what I wanted after a hot day and those junk food lunches – a refreshing, slightly acidic (‘cos of the lime and kimchi) taste adventure.
If we’d opted for starters or desert, I imagine the meals would have come out pricey. As it was, we had a beer and main each and spent around 20 EUR. Not bad for such a nice place.
Vegabond, Leliegracht (Pt. 2)
We returned to Vegabond the next morning because it’s close to the city centre, whereas other restaurants are further out. This time, the sun was shining fully and I had an Acai Bowl sitting outside watching the canal. A beautiful experience, with truly stunning food that nourishes your soul. The crunchy granola and coconut flakes went perfectly with the ice-cream like acai. Richard’s overnight oats looked amazing – and he wolfed them down.
The Dutch Weed Burger, Nicolaas Beetsstraat
We didn’t have much time left, and wanted to ensure we ate well before the return journey. I found The Dutch Weed Burger highly rated on HappyCow, so decided it was worth the 30 minute walk from our hotel. (Tip: Get on the tram if you’re staying anywhere near the centre of the city. It’s much easier but I didn’t realise I could get it to the restaurant).
Wow, what a correct decision it turned out to be. I had the Dutch Weed Burger itself, which uses seaweed flakes (hence the weed. It’s not marijuana, folks) to create a delicious slightly crunchy texture. The main burger is soy-based, I think, and tasted unreal – especially with the algae-style mayo used. It was the ‘fishiest’ tasting burger I’ve had, but as an avid fan of Nori I loved it. Richard’s seitan hot dog had a chipotle edge, and was equally well received.
Price structure was similar to Vegan Junk Food Bar. Stuffed after finishing our extra fries, we ordered two brownies to take on the ferry back.
Later, when eating the chocolatey vegan goodness, I reflected on how eating vegan in Amsterdam is easier than ever. If you’ve got HappyCow to help you find the places to go, it’s a brilliant city. Expensive, but not prohibitively so, it’s a destination to visit when you’d like a day or two of vegan excess. I would recommend hiring cycles, though, as walking around can get tiring when most eateries are quite far apart.
Note on Vegan beer: As a trip for two mates, plenty of beer was consumed on the holiday. Heineken, Holland’s own, is vegan friendly. However, I found ‘Lowlander’, a Dutch brewery, makes a white ale that is now one of my favourite ever drinks. It’s vegan too, being sold in Dutch Weed Burger. If you get the chance, try out a Lowlander White Ale. Delicious!