This overview of 13 typical Belgian foods appeared in The Huffington Post recently. They are listed as thé tourist attraction and appealing feature to come and visit Belgium: the food!
Although the Huffington Post has spent a good deal of attention to the rise of veganism in the US (see this overview with keyword vegan), it’s obvious the author of this article clearly wasn’t thinking about the growing popularity of plant based foods or veganism in general.
Let’s take a closer look at these 13 typical Belgian foods, and see whether there’s something for vegans in there.
1. Endives in slices of ham, covered in cheese sauce. You could try and veganise the dish, but it’ll take quite some years to come before any traditional restaurant will standardly have a vegan version of this dish on their menu!
2. Mussles with fries. Nope. Mussles are animals. I don’t now if ‘faux vegan mussles’ even exist, but I wouldn’t fancy them anyway!
3. Belgian waffles. Dairy and eggs. Of course you make these vegan yourselves, but I haven’t seen any restaurant, pub or tearoom in Belgium ever serving vegan waffles.
4. White porc sausage. Obviously not.
5. Fries. Indeed, the commonly called french fries are actually Belgian Fries! We invented them! Unfortunately it’s also tradition to bake them in animal fat (ox fat). So if you think you’re safe with fried potatoes chips: fail!
6. Mashed potatoes. Made with dairy, and sometimes also contains eggs. Easy to veganise, but your traditional restaurant will not have any soy creamer or oatly at hand.
7. Grey shrimps. Obviously not.
8. Belgian chocolate. A lot of them contain dairy, but there is vegan chocolate available. Unfortunately, even a lot of the ‘pure’ dark black chocolate contains milk whey. Always ask and check.
9. Carbonade flamande. Beef stew with onions and beer. We make a great vegan version with seitan though!
10. Filet americain. Minced ground beef (raw!) with a mayo-ketchup sauce. Blèh!
11. Speculoos. The famous Lotus cookies are plant based, but a lot of vegans will not want to eat these because they contain palm oil.
12. Waterzooi. stew with chicken or fish, vegetables, cream and eggs. Easy to veganise!
13. The Beer! Yes, finally! a lot of Belgian beers are safe for vegans. These beers are commonly served in Belgian pubs and are vegan (as we last checked on barnivore): stella, maes, cristal, de coninck, palm, hoegaarden, vedett, leffe, liefmans fruit beers, brugse zot, duvel, omer, la chouffe, westmalle, west-vleteren, chimay, la trappe, orval. And many more!
So does Belgium have nothing on offer for vegans, except for the chocolate and beers?
Of course it does! Some typical things like locally made mustard or typical Belgian grown vegetables like Brussels sprouts, endives and leeks. Appels and peers from Belgium’s fruit region, Limburg. The city of Ghent is said to have more vegetarian restaurants (with vegan options) than any other European city! We are discovering a lot of great places in Bruges and other cities that also offer a vegan menu. See our lists of restaurants in the menu section. And even a lot of the Michelin star restaurants are willing to serve you a vegan menu upon request.
But there’s still a long way to go before any vegan dishes will become part of Belgium’s culinary heritage. We’re working on it 😉
13 Foods That’ll Make you want to visit Belgium, Huffington Post, January 21, 2014.
I wouldn’t mind chocolate and beer anyway. 🙂 Glad to see I’ve tried a few common Belgian beers already!
This is all so true. I only go a lot to the loving hut in Leuven but their vegan dishes are not at all creative. I like creative vegan cooking & baking! I hope some day soon, there will be new vegan eateries on the Belgian horizon.
We’ve been to the LH in Leuven a couple of times too. It’s good for a quick snack. Unfortunately there aren’t that many restaurants in Leuven serving vegan!
Hope times will change!
Of course – Brussels sprouts! I never made the link. Do they originate from Belgium?
Thank you for “working on it”. Everything starts somewhere :-D.
After living in Belgium for more than 6 years, I have to say that even before I stopped eating meat, these “highlights” of food were rarely made good. I could make it all myself in my house and it would be much better than in restaurants.. 🙂 There are lots of reasons to come to Belgium, but the local food is not one of them..
What we in Britain call chips you call Flemish Fries (Vlaamse Frites) surely not Belgian Fries. Some of the vegetarian restaurants must sell them fried in vegetable oil, unless they are not ‘healthy’ enough to be ‘wholefood’. I think that Speculoos (which can now be bought in Britain but are expensive) were the only vegan biscuits that I could find in Belgium, or France for that matter. One of my favourite beers was Hoegaarden Forbidden Fruit (Verboden Vrucht) which had Rubens’ painting of Adam and Eve on the label.
Oh, they are defintely called Belgische Frieten, not Vlaamse Frieten. I have occasionally eaten fries at vegetarian/vegan restaurants, but they are not so commonly served there. Yes, rather rare. Not healthy enough 😉
Try Antwerp! 🙂
I’ll think chances are better of finding vegan goodies in Louvain or Ghent, than in Antwerp? Or is there something new in store in Antwerp? 🙂
They’ve seen the light in Antwerp.
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I’ll be visiting Antwerpen and Ghent and Amsterdam in September and wondering if there are Biscoff & speculoos type products that are vegan that I can bring back to the US. We have the Biscoff cookies and butter and the knockoffs in the United States – I was curious if other fun varieties existed and that were vegan that I could bring back to my cookie butter loving husband?