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Vegans Around the World: Spotlight on Germany!
Yummy Plants is excited to launch our new “Vegans Around the World” series with a spotlight on Germany, home to 600,000 vegans!
To fill us in on the details of the vegan scene in Germany, we contacted Christian Vagedes, a founder of the Vegan Society of Germany (Vegane Gesellschaft Deutschland) and author of the newly published Veg Up. The Veganization of the World (Veg Up. Die Veganisierung der Welt). We asked Mr. Vagedes for information about the vegan community in Germany and for tips to help international vegan visitors find their way to friendly restaurants and supermarket munchies. Read on to learn about the vegan scene in Germany!
Vegan Community in Germany
Yummy Plants: We’d like to know about the Vegan Society of Germany and its members.
Mr. Vagedes: Hilmar Steppat, the former Press Officer of the German Vegetarian Society, a group of dedicated vegans from different backgrounds, and I are the founders of the Vegan Society of Germany. It launched in Berlin on World Vegan Day, November 11, 2010.
Ninety percent of German vegans have chosen a plant-based diet for ethical reasons related to both animal rights and environmental concerns. The strong animal rights movement in Germany encourages a vegan diet with its popular campaign: “Bring love into your fridge” (“Bring Liebe in deinen kühlschrank”).
As environmentalists we think that vegan is the true green because it provides a mega-solution to ensuring an adequate food supply for the entire human population.
Yummy Plants: How vibrant and engaged is the German vegan community?
Mr. Vagedes: We are very active! The Vegan Society of Germany now has 100 city groups and regular regional meetings. We are planning our first national vegan camp for the summer of 2012. The goal is to provide a relaxed and pleasant environment where vegans can become acquainted with each other. We also have another plan for 2012: the launch of a new model of living areas called “Veganthropolis.”
Throughout the year German vegans celebrate with feasts, festivals and parties. In two cities every year, we have a “VSD,” which stands for “Veggie Street Day.” In the future, I hope they rename it the “Vegan Street Day” because all the booths, all the food vendors, and all the clothes being sold are vegan. In Hannover, we celebrate the “vegan spring.” This September we will have the first ever vegan Oktoberfest! We also hope to launch our first vegan fair called “Veganfach” this November.
Yummy Plants: Are there many vegan-friendly restaurants and grocery stores in Germany?
Mr. Vagedes: While most of the vegan restaurants and shops are in Berlin, other big cities like Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Dortmund, and Cologne also have many nice vegan restaurants for every cuisine: from fast food to high-end restaurants. This year, Vegan Wonderland, a completely vegan supermarket, opened its doors in Dortmund.
Yummy Plants: Do regular supermarkets carry dairy alternatives?
Mr. Vagedes: Almost all supermarkets carry soy or rice milk. Many also have oat milk. The plant-based milk products are not genetically modified. The soy milk products, like most of the other plant-based milks, are organic.
In the organic supermarkets, which we call “biosupermarkt,” – and of course in the vegan supermarkets – there are a lot of different sorts of plant-based milk varieties. I especially like milk and cream made from organic spelt. The German company Natumi behind this line of innovative products is a subsidiary of the US-based Hain Celestial Group. Also delicious is Natumi’s canned whipped cream. It is a sensation – it really tastes like “cream.”
In Germany we have a wonderful so-called “reform-magarine” which is packed like butter and looks and tastes like it. “Alsan,” the gold edition, is also organic. The cheese alternatives get better from year to year. The most popular one right now is “Vegusto,” from Switzerland.
Yummy Plants: How can international vegan visitors find help while in Germany?
Mr. Vagedes: We are translating our website into English and that will help. We also have a complementary service, fast veg (schnell-veg.de). When visitors access this site and click on the medallion, they can ask for help with vegan shopping in any part of Germany. The visitor inputs a postal code and receives the email address of a person who will help.
Maybe we can organize more travel by building a bridge between American and German vegans. Many German vegans are interested in traveling to the U.S.A.
Yummy Plants: What a wonderful idea! If there are any vegan groups in the U.S. who would be interested in partnering with the Vegan Society of Germany, please contact us at yummyplants.com.