I just returned from the most amazing expedition to Washington, DC and Amsterdam. I visited Washington DC for a five-day strategy retreat with Humane Society International’s global farm animal protection (FAP) team, I am their South African consultant and implement their meat-reduction and farm animal welfare campaigns here. Upon my return to South Africa, I decided to stop over in Amsterdam to visit one of my best friends, Kristen and her hubby Russell, and to explore the plant-based culinary scene in this historic little town.
Amsterdam, or rather the Netherlands as a whole, is very open-minded and supportive of a plant-based lifestyle. Every café offers soy, almond or even oat milk as dairy alternatives and almost every restaurant has a variety of delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner options to choose from. They also have a 100% vegan retail store called Vegabond that sells all of the treats I oozed over on Instagram for the past couple of months.
It was impossible to visit all of the vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in Amsterdam but I hope to return later this year, or next year, to explore their vegan scene more. For now, I’d love to share my top two vegan-friendly restaurants in Amsterdam with you, along with a few other vegan treats I discovered. If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam, I would highly recommend trying at least one of the eateries listed below.
This world-renowned eatery is every bit as eccentric and delicious as they say. I’m not really a junk-foodie and I would’t say unicorns and graffiti is my thing, but I still found this restaurant uber cool and the vegan junk food, loaded with layers of special sauces, vegan cheeses and facon nibs, tasted just like the real deal. Kristen, Russell and aunty Pam (Kristen’s mom) joined me at the restaurant on my last night’s farewell. We shared the Amsterdam Bitterballs as a starter, it is a traditional Netherlands cuisine, along with a portion of Coconut Curry Bitterballs. For mains, Kristen had the DADDY MC CHIK’N: Double plant-based Chik’n burgers on a black bun, with vegan cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red, spring & fried onion mix, pickles, and Daddy sauce. Russel opted for the NOTORIOUS SUMO: Two juicy plant-based beef 3.0 patties (I think they were Beyond Meat patties), vegan cheddar, fried onion rings, lettuce, tomato, red, spring & fried onion mix, pickles, jalapeños, and VJFB® sauce.
A very sceptical aunty Pam played it “safe” with the KAPSALON LOADED FRIES: Regular fries topped with Chik’n pieces, grated vegan cheese, jalapeños, spring, red and fried onion mix, garlic and spicy VJFB® sauces. She loved every chippie and had to fight off our hands stealing a few out of her basket! Finally, I ordered some “ZEAFOOD” to share 😉 FRESH SASHIMI: No Tuna & Zalmon slithers served with ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. I also had the PASS THE DUTCHIE cocktail and the ROYAL HUNKY: plant-based shawarma pieces on a green bun with lettuce, tomato, red, spring & fried onion mix, fresh herbs, pomegranate, jalapeños, pink sauce and VJFB® sauce. Oh my gosh, the sashimi was absolutely incredible! The soft texture melted in my mouth as I remember real sashimi did more than five years ago, and the flavour was spot on. If you are going to order anything, definitely get the sashimi. Next time, being the health nut I am, I’ll go for the NO TUNA CAESAR SALAD with no tuna and Parm á San, although everything on the menu looks tasty. Take a look at their offering here. If your mouth is watering for vegan junk food and you can’t get to Amsterdam anytime soon, pop into Lekker Vegan in Cape Town to try vegan junk food the South African way!
Any avocado addict’s dream – a menu where every dish is designed to make avocado the star of the show! Although The Avocado Show is not a vegan restaurant, I had to give it one a go. Their menu, perfect for breakfast, brunch and lunch, offers 12 vegan options along with plant-based drinks. I opted for my morning oat-milk latte and, as a suggestion from the waiter, ordered THE HEART BEET ROSE: Red beet hummus, pickled beets, black sesame seeds and beet leaves, served with an avocado rose on top. As their mayo is vegan, I also ordered a portion of their wasabi mayo on the side. Holy Guacamole – very bite was heavenly! I wish I had space (or time) to try THE LATEST SCOOP for dessert: Two scoops of vegan avocado and chocolate chip ice cream served on two black cones. Guess I’ll have to revisit them next time.
- Other vegan yumminess I tasted in Amsterdam:
Coffee and Coconuts: The relaxing but buzzing beach-shack vibe of this airy restaurant had me in a dream. They serve beautiful, wholesome and happy food, and most of the ingredients used are organic and locally sourced. They are not 100% vegan but offer a variety of plant-based meals on their menu. The four of us visited the restaurant for breakfast before hitting the Amstel canal. Try their fresh coconut water (out of a coconut), the COCONUT GREEN SMOOTHIE BOWL with delicious buckini or the ALL DAY VEGAN BREAKFAST with coconut poached tofu, seasonal dark greens, crispy spiced potato, miso roast tomato.
Vegabond: Vegabond is a 100% vegan retail store and café, serving hot coffee, refreshing drinks and delicious plant-based meals and desserts! I didn’t get a chance to sit down and eat at Vegabond, but I did shop there and treated myself to a vegan Magnum and, of course, vegan Stroopwafels. The Magnum was so smooth and creamy and the chocolate coating cracked under my teeth with every bite – just like in the adverts! I haven’t had a Magnum in probably 6 years, so munching this while strolling along the canal was absolutely marvellous.
Moaz Vegan Fast Food: This little falafel bar cam in VERY handy after a night out in town. The fours of us went to Tails and Spirits for eccentric cocktails, The Hilton Hotel for drinks at the rooftop bar and then made our way through the Red Light District. I was starving by the time we were done so Russel and I popped in for a snack on the way home. At Moaz, you order a pita with falafel and then you help yourself to the salad bar. Everything, including the sauces, is 100% vegan so we had a blast filling our pitas (and our stomachs) to the brim.
Poké Perfect: On the night of the Game of Thrones finale, we stayed in and ordered take-away poke bowls from Poké Perfect. I had the Soy Joy (vegan) with Crispy tofu, sweet potato, mushrooms, carrots, bell pepper and zucchini topped off with crunchy onion, sesame seeds and their Sesame Me sauce. They also have another vegan option, the Tamari Tempeh with Tempeh marinated in ginger and soy sauce, roasted broccoli, red cabbage and edamame beans topped off with roasted seaweed flakes, sesame seeds and our Sesame Me sauce.
Starbucks: Without any doubt, I had a shitload of Starbucks! The Netherlands’ Starbucks offer oat milk and sugar-free vanilla syrup (it’s a killer combo), and they have a vegan Berry Bircher to eat – which is basically overnight oats with berries and pumpkin seeds.
So that’s my round-up of vegan eateries in Amsterdam. If you’ve been to Amsterdam and have any suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments below. Hopefully, I’ll visit again and be able to share a blog called “Eating Vegan in Amsterdam – Part 2”.