The concept of the video was born from my growing interest in a plant-based diet. I knew I wasn’t alone in that, and thought this would be a good opportunity to learn and share my experience with others, while featuring some great places in one of my favorite cities. When my mostly vegan girlfriend came to visit, the recipe was right.
We started at Noordermarkt, a place I always tell tourist to go visit. It offers so much and its four-hundred year history is like walking through the generations. I wanted to see how it appeared from a vegan standpoint. It was no surprise that there were options, and though it wasn’t featured in the vlog, there was a baked goods stand that, along with traditional quiche, was one just for vegans. On the pure market sense, there were a couple stands that provided a plethora of goods for a vegan kitchen.
From there we went to Willicroft, the plant-based cheese store. Perhaps one of the biggest things that keep vegetarians from taking the leap to vegan is cheese. I’m not going to lie, though the textures were pretty impressive, it’s not the same as typical cheese. However, I was completely blown away by the options. And they were good! When you walk in there’s a whole tasting setup. It was a fun experience and the host was very knowledgeable and gracious.
One major myth I wanted to dispel among those with a more traditional diet is that veganism doesn’t provide delicious comfort food alternatives. Vegan Junk Food bar (which has several locations in Amsterdam) and Deer Mama provide exactly that, burgers and cakes that are equally delicious. The burger I had at Vegan Junk Food Bar and the carrot cake I had at Deer Mama were basically indisteguishable from their animal product counterparts.
Next up, Staring a Jacob, happened by accident. I stopped by one morning while waiting for my laundry to dry, looking for a hardy breakfast. What I found was a vegetarian option that was bomb. When we came back for the vlog, we tried their vegan option. Let’s be clear, this is not a vegan restaurant. They mostly serve omnivore plates. But, no joke, the vegan option was hangover gold, a filling and delicious plate of brunchiness. It speaks to the spirit of what’s going on in Amsterdam, even non-vegan restaurants are throwing vegan options on the menu. This is not just about pleasing the growing demand for such a thing, but also because vegan is the new cool in the culinary arts.
Now it was time to get more vegan sophisticated, and Meatless District is the place all my friends whisper about in Oud-West, the neighborhood I’ve been lucky enough to call home from time to time. I’ve been there on several occasions, and the menu has been different each time. On this Sunday afternoon, it was the brunch menu. I had the “no salmon bagel”. This is the essence of what’s going on in vegan. I’m a New Yorker. The lox bagel this impersonates is a big deal. Well, this vegan rendition captured the flavors like I couldn’t believe. Truly, I was blown away.
Right around the corner, we had to stop at one of my favorite fast food stops. Like Staring at Jacob, this is not a vegan place, but they understand the demand. Quick and always friendly, Baires Empanadas is another example of the foodie culture that is Amsterdam. I mean, a spot dedicated just to empanadas, that’s not something you find everywhere. I like it. The next day we did another fast food joint, Moaz Vegan. Once upon a time it was only Moaz, but it’s so popular to be vegan that they threw that on the title. These order at the counter and fill your own falafel joints are perfect for a quick bite, and they are in many place across the city. The fill your own falafel aspect is pretty cool too. They pretty much only serve falafel, but with the buffet of ingredients to choose from, options abound.
Coffee & Coconuts is has been a favorite for a while. This place has a great ambience and diverse menu. It’s for everyone, from meat-eaters to vegans, from comfort food to clean eating. And the coffee is killer (plug for my friends at White Label). But seriously, have a flat white with oat milk. It’s heaven.
The last stop on our tour was the golden jewel of them all, Little Plant Pantry. This place is an education and run by one of the kindest, most interesting guys I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing. This is not a restaurant, exactly. It’s more of a grocery. But they do have fresh cooked healthy vegan food to enjoy. What I love most about this place is its commitment to being as low waste as possible. It takes the vegan ethos to the next level. Without question, Little Plant Panty is a place every foodie traveler, vegan or otherwise, should star on their map.
It was a fun and flavorful adventure, one that could have gone on for weeks. Even in my own neighborhood, I missed cool places. Vegan sushi. Vegan BBQ. It’s all there and then some. The moral of this story is to bring along those interested in the plant-based diet. I’m not trying to convince anyone to be vegan. I’m not vegan. But it’s hard to argue the benefits of being more plant-based, for our bodies and for sustainable living.
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