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.