As long as you’re sure to track down the right beer, drinking at Oktoberfest as a vegan has never been a problem. Eating however is a different story.
But now after 200 years of copious amounts of meat, Oktoberfest organizers have decided to offer vegan options, including soy “pork” medallions and even vegan wine.
That’s a big change for a centuries-old festival that has been meat heavy. Last year, at the three week Oktoberfest in Munich, half a million chickens, 116 whole oxen and 115,000 pork sausages were consumed.
Why go vegan now? As the festival grows and attracts a larger crowd, there are more dietary restrictions to take into consideration.
“As the event becomes more international, people with special dietary requirements and different culinary tastes are becoming the norm,” said Wolfgang Nickl of Munich’s city council, the party behind organizing Oktoberfest.
Yes, even in Germany, there is a big move towards veganism and vegetarianism. According to the Association of German Vegetarians (VEBU), there are 7 million vegetarians in the country, and about 800,000 of them avoid animal products all together. “Whether it’s environmentalism, climate protection or health concerns, there is a growing awareness among Germans when it comes to the vegetarian agenda,” said VEBU spokeswoman Stephanie Stragies.
Given the number of people that attend the festival, Oktoberfest wants to be inclusive. “Vegan food is the best way to ensure that people of all religions, as well as those that don’t eat animal products out of conviction, aren’t excluded from the festivities,” Martin Jonas, of “Herzkasperl,” told Spiegel. “Though it’s hard for Bavarians to change their approach, it makes sense. It’s the lowest common denominator.”
And while Oktoberfest will continue to stick to its roots of meat and beer – this is Bavaria after all – vegans will now be able to eat and drink right alongside their carnivorous friends.
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