As a vegan traveling to the Netherlands, I had a few concerns. Can I find some vegan restaurants in the traditionally not vegan-friendly Netherlands? Is being vegan expensive in the Netherlands? Do I need to stick to just fruits and vegetables to survive in the Netherlands as a vegan? I assumed the latter wouldn’t be a problem even in such a dairy-oriented country as Holland.
To my surprise, vegan lifestyle is on the rise in the Netherlands. A vegan, whether it’s a visitor or a local, thrives in this country. Setting aside the diet of just fresh fruits and vegetables, you can enjoy some traditional Dutch dishes with a vegan twist. Can be traveling to the Netherlands as a vegan hard after that?
Vegan Lifestyle is on the Rise in the Netherlands
In the early 2010s, vegan trend was barely establishing in the Netherlands. Finding good quality plant-based food wasn’t easy. The word “surviving” often creeped into stories of the vegans sharing their experiences of living in or traveling to the Netherlands at that time. Luckily, today the situation looks completely different. The vegans not only survive, but thrive in the Netherlands.
The truth to be told, this northwestern European country is one of the leaders of the vegan food industry. In fact, the Netherlands ranks eleventh in the world for the national popularity of the vegan lifestyle.
Vegan fast food chains constantly pop up on street corners of the biggest cities in the country. Smaller towns also closely follow their lead. Supermarkets across the Netherlands stimulate the transition to the vegan lifestyle by offering a myriad of plant-based products. A whopping number of vegan burgers, wraps, soups, milk and cheese substitutes flood the shelves of Dutch grocery stores.
You can’t imagine that just less than a decade ago, being a vegan in the Netherlands was hard and inconvenient.
Vegan travelers also admire this switch to the plant-based lifestyle. They can skip ever-reliable Asian restaurants with their traditional vegetarian and vegan sushi and buddha bowls and try some authentic Dutch specialties. Traditional cuisine with a vegan twist finally became available in the Netherlands, and we can’t be more happy about it.
Why Vegan Lifestyle Comes as a Surprise in the Netherlands?
The rise of the vegan lifestyle in the Netherlands shook the world. Out of all European countries, Holland was the least likely to go plant-based. Known for its centuries-long cultural traditions revolving around cheese and raw herring, the Netherlands certainly got everybody by surprise. How could the region that gave the world Gouda cheese defy its core essence?
Even with the prevailing vegan trend, the Netherlands is one of the largest exporters of cheese worldwide up to this day. According to statista.com, in 2019, the country amounted to a value of 4.2 billion dollars in its signature product export.
Moreover, even authentic Dutch waffles and pancakes up to this day strongly hold on to old baking traditions. These specialties still use mostly dairy products in their recipes. But the change is happening in this department, even if at a slower pace. So, for those to travel to the capital of the Netherlands, The Happy Pig Pancake Shop offers some of the best vegan Dutch pancakes you must try.
Why Does the Netherlands Go Vegan?
Unlike the majority of other countries whose citizen bring the change, the government of the Netherlands paves the road for the vegan lifestyle. Do what is good for environment and health is a driving force and reason why the Dutch legislators back up the new movement.
In 2018, the Council of the Environment and Infrastructure recommended that the Netherlands reduced its meat intake to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, it suggested lowering the animal-based protein from 60% now to 40% by 2030.
Steps the Netherlands Takes to Go Vegan
The government of the Netherlands, however, is not the only institution that sees the necessity of changes and stimulates the inevitable rise of the vegan lifestyle in the country. All industries seems to join forces to make it happen. Food companies, restaurants, stores, hotels, and, first of all, the Dutch themselves make this transition to the vegan lifestyle in the Netherlands possible. Here are a few areas where veganism thrives and continues influencing other industries.
Following the government recommendations, the food companies in the Netherlands jump on the bandwagon when it comes to the vegan lifestyle. They produce more plant-based food options, including vegan substitutes for such traditional products as cheese, meat, and milk.
The Netherlands strongly supports The Protein Cluster, a Dutch platform that brings together the world’s plant-based startups. Thus, research, innovation, and implementation of the vegan lifestyle is not just a short-lived trend in the Netherlands. It’s baked up by some of the most affluent companies in the country.
Further support of the new trend in the Netherlands comes from some Dutch meat veterans that slowly go vegan. More and more plant-based products come from their facilities and land on the shelves of the grocery stores and supermarkets. Seeing familiar logos on plant-based foods is a sure way to give those products a try.
Vegan Grocery Stores
Consequently, the Netherlands sees a growing number of vegan and vegetarian stores. The new additions to the Dutch towns and cities stock up on all possible vegan products from cheese to meat substitutes. Vegan chocolate, ice cream, milk, and coffee creamers have long became a norm in these grocery stores in the Netherlands.
While supermarkets in the Netherlands don’t go entirely vegan, they have added a large assortment of plant-based products. Apart form regular fresh fruits and vegetables, you can find vegan substitutes, including vegan fast foods, here.
Interestingly enough, not all plant-based products in the supermarkets of the Netherland carry labels with the green “V” (“V” is for vegan). But you can rest assured that they are as vegan as it only can be. So, reading the labels is still relevant here.
The biggest supporters of the vegan lifestyle among the supermarkets of the Netherlands are Albert Heijn and Jumbo. With that said, some rural areas of the country still experience lack of the vegan products despite the overall acceptance of the healthy lifestyle.
Vegan Supermarket in Amsterdam
While skeptics predict the comeback of heavy meat and dairy industry in the Netherlands, vegan stores continue silencing them. The first vegan supermarket, Vegan Fresco, is set to open in Amsterdam at the end of January 2021. It will open its doors to all vegan and vegetarian consumers of the city opposite the Albert Heijn supermarket on Evertsenstraat.
Vegan Restaurants in the Netherlands
Additionally, a whopping number of vegan cafes and restaurants pop up on street corners in the majority of cities in the Netherlands. It got to that point that even junk food industry switches to the vegan lifestyle, presenting its popular junk food cafes. These small, but extremely popular eateries make the transition to the vegan lifestyle in the Netherlands easy. Moreover, they let the health-conscious Dutch spoil themselves with various junk food dishes from time to time.
While every city has their own popular vegan fast food places to swing by occasionally, Amsterdam can’t stop impressing with its street stars, Maoz Vegan and Vegan Junk Food Bar.
Bread still has a long way to go to catch up with the vegan trend in the Netherlands. Most of the baked products in the country don’t have plastic wrappings with attached to them labels. (Do you need any other evidences that the country not only speaks but also walks the walk when it comes to creating eco-friendly environment?) Even if the ingredients are listed, most of the travelers can’t read Dutch. Some breads, however, still include products of animal origin.
The biggest supermarkets of the Netherlands such as Albert Heijn, Dirk, and Aldi stay on top of the game. They ensure that the consumers know exactly what goes into their baked products.
I can’t read Dutch, but like bread too much to avoid biting into a fresh loaf even when traveling in the Netherlands. So, instead of overthinking or overanalyzing, I simply stuck to the baked goodies with that big “V” written on the labels next to them.
Where to Find Vegan Food in the Netherlands
The Albert Heijn supermarket is one of the biggest stores that goes hand in hand with the rise of the vegan lifestyle in the Netherlands. You can find all sorts of vegan products here if for some reasons Dutch restaurants and cafes leave you unsatisfied.
Albert Heijn also comes in handy for vegan budget travelers and locals of the Netherlands. The superstore carries a wide range of vegan waffels, plant-based cheeses, vegetable spreads, vegan meats, meatless burgers, and plant-based dairy products just to name a few. Despite its already impressive assortment of the vegan foods, the Dutch food giant doesn’t stop on it. It keeps adding new products and increasing the quantity of the vegan favorites in its stores across the Netherlands.
Stopping at Albert Heijn at the end of the day quickly became my ritual when spending a few days in Amsterdam. I stumbled upon the supermarket that was just a three-minute walk from my hotel by accident. But as all good things, it stuck with me. Every evening before calling it a day, I would swing by to get my fresh pressed orange juice and some vegan wraps. I’m sure even supermarket’s associates recognized me by the end of my stay in Amsterdam.
Stach Cafe was my second favorite place in the Netherlands to grab vegan food on the go. The restaurant is not vegan but sells enough plant-based varieties to win your heart. You can find affordable vegan bowls, wraps, and sushi here. Do you have a sweet tooth? No problem! Stach Cafe makes sure to satisfy your sugar cravings with its vegan banana bread, muffins, and specialty drinks with plant-based milk.
The company is yet to spread across the country. As for now, its affiliates can be found in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Haarlem, Overveen, and Groningen.
Surprise that doesn’t look like it considering the overall vegan trend in the Netherlands. The fact remains, though. The world-famous furniture retailer, IKEA, added plant-based options to its menu in Amsterdam and Amersfoort stores. The popular Beyond Meat burger clearly speaks of the company’s support of a more sustainable lifestyle.
Eco-Friendly Vegan Hotels in the Netherlands
Hotels in the Netherland also don’t want to miss on the prevailing trend and rapidly switch their menus to vegetarian or vegan. Now you can rely on your home away from home to serve you vegan breakfast. But like anywhere else in the world, assuming that you can get plant-based food at any hotel in the Netherlands is wrong. The Dutch eco-friendly vegan hotels are still a minority. Do your research and find an accommodation that suits your plant-based lifestyle.
As of now, Vegotel is the best eco-friendly vegan hotel in the Netherlands. The place joined the Dutch hotel scene just recently and already expanded to 25 locations in the Netherlands, Italy, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, and France. The popularity of this eco-friendly vegan hotel grows rapidly. In fact, even The Guardian called it one of the best vegan hotels in Europe.
LEARN MORE: Where to Find Affordable Vegan Food in Amsterdam
Traveling to the Netherlands as a Vegan
The locals enjoy the vegan trend in the Netherlands and take it as part of their everyday life now. The rest of the world, however, still views the Netherlands as one of the biggest consumers and exporters of Dutch cheese.
No wonder, traveling to the Netherlands scares many vegans. Luckily, the plant-based travelers change their minds almost as soon as they step on the Dutch ground. Visiting Holland as a vegan is an enjoyable experience. There are a wide range of vegan restaurants, cafes, and stores. On top of that, even the popular Dutch supermarkets let you sustain your vegan diet with a myriad of their plant-based substitutes.
Learn more about culture and lifestyle in the Netherlands:
- Day Trips: Trips from Amsterdam to Immerse in Dutch Culture
- Culture: Culture of the Netherlands and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
- Vegan Dishes to Rely on when Traveling
- Vegan in Dublin: The Best Places to Eat and Drink
- Traditional Vegan New Year Food around the World
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