A vegan trip to Amsterdam
I visited Amsterdam last week and I was very keen to find out what the vegan scene is like there. Being a vibrant, modern, and health conscious capital I was expecting there to be a good range of options. Here are a few of the places that I discovered…
The first place I visited was the TerraZen Centre, largely because it’s one of the top search results for ‘vegan Amsterdam’ and easy to find as it’s not far from the central train station. It has very good online reviews and despite the fact that the combination of food they serve sounded a bit weird (Japanese and Caribbean!) I had high hopes for the place.
The outside looked great, with a huge ‘vegan’ logo painted on the window – though from the online description (‘Welcome to the TerraZen Centre where natural living and wellness come together’), I was expecting something different to the slightly dingy interior.
After checking the food board (eating out in Amsterdam is pricier than in Leeds!) we asked the member of waiting staff what each dish contained. She didn’t seem particularly eager to help and throughout our time there forgot my drink, served us spring rolls that we hadn’t ordered (and seemed annoyed when we turned them down), and had to ask us what we’d ordered when we went to pay!
Service doesn’t bother me too much if the food is good, though unfortunately our dishes were unexceptional. I ordered the tempeh burger whilst my partner had the roti wrap with vegan ‘chicken’.
As fast food the dishes were fine, but they didn’t seem very healthy nor particularly good value for money.
The roti wrap was disappointing – €12.50 and it did not come with any salad or side dishes, just a few dribbles of vegan mayonnaise.
All in all we were a bit disappointed with our first vegan restaurant experience in Amsterdam, and slightly surprised at the glowing online reviews of the place.
TerraZen Centre, Sint Jacobsstraat 19 HS, 1012 NC Amsterdam
The next night we decided to check out an Ethiopian restaurant that I’d read about in a recent blog by The Blonde Berry – Addis Ababa.
Back in Leeds I enjoy visiting an Ethiopian that I recently discovered, and Addis Ababa sounded good.
The restaurant has a rather plain interior – there’s also outside pavement seating but as it was sunny there were no spaces left. The menu has a range of vegetarian dishes but we asked for a mixed platter to share, making sure to specify that we were vegan.
We didn’t think this would cause any issues as the restaurant has a ‘vegan friendly’ sticker on its door, but when the dish arrived it had cottage cheese on it! The lady was most apologetic and said there had been a misunderstanding, whisked our plate away and returned a few minutes later with the dish minus the cottage cheese. It was obvious though that they’d just scraped the cottage cheese off – not good for vegans averse to cross contamination and definitely not good for anyone with a dairy allergy! We were hungry and in something of a rush though and so decided not to make a fuss.
The food itself was excellent – a range of delicious curries and sauces, served on a huge injera and with four additional rolls of injera on the side. The injera was thinner and less spongy than the one I have in Leeds, and I liked it more – the curries also had more flavour than the ones I’ve previously eaten.
The dish cost around €27 excluding drinks; not exactly cheap but we left happy with the food, despite the incident with the cottage cheese!
Addis Ababa, Overtoom 337, 1054 JM Amsterdam
The next day we decided to check out a light and modern raw vegan cafe/restaurant called Alchemist Garden. The place is a health food store with seating at the back, and offers a range of raw food dishes and drinks.
It’s a clean and airy place with wooden furniture and surfaces and lots of plants – very different to TerraZen and a nice space in which to relax.
We shared a ‘rainbow plate’ (€12.50) and a brownie (€5). The rainbow plate had seed crackers, sauerkraut, sprouts and avocado, and other kinds of raw pickled vegetables. It’s definitely not a dish you should choose if you’re really hungry, but it was an experience to eat an entirely raw meal and the food had nice textures and flavours. It was certainly a very healthy eating experience.
I can’t say the brownie was the best raw vegan dessert I’ve ever had (which was an almond cream ‘cheesecake’ at Hobbes in Paris), but it was quite nice. Alchemist Garden is a very pleasant place and the guy working there helpful and happy to explain the dishes on offer and discuss raw veganism in general.
Alchemist Garden, Overtoom 409, 1054 JP Amsterdam.
The next day we visited Vegabond, another clean and modern cafe that’s entirely vegan.
It was nice to sit in the window seats and look out over the canal and the tall, narrow houses for which Amsterdam is famous.
I was also pleased to see animal rights literature on display, as I hadn’t noticed any in the other vegan places we’d visited. Animal rights is central to my veganism and so I like to see cafes and restaurants promoting the issue, in addition to the health and environmental aspects of veganism.
We ordered a couple of sandwiches, which weren’t exactly cheap at €6 each but which were tasty – particularly the tofu scramble with salad on spelt bread. The bread was great as too was the tofu scramble, flavoured with curry spices. Vegabond is a nice place to grab brunch or a light lunch.
Vegabond, Leliegracht 16, 1015 Amsterdam.
By the last afternoon we were running a bit low on funds (eating out in Amsterdam is pricier than Leeds, if you hadn’t noticed!) and so decided to go for a cheaper option. We headed to Maoz Vegetarian, a falafel joint with a salad bar.
A falafel in pita with unlimited salad top-ups was good value at just under €5, and the Belgian-style fries (€2.50) were great too.
You can’t beat a good falafel, and this one was excellent – without breaking the bank!
Maoz, Muntplein 1, 1017 CK Amsterdam (and three other locations in the city).
Overall, we enjoyed our vegan dining experiences in Amsterdam. We only had limited time there however, and so I’m looking forward to checking out other places the next time we visit this great city.
If you know of any other vegan places in Amsterdam, please do let me know in the comments below!