Belgium has long inspired mouthwatering visions of fine chocolates, waffles, and beer. Most of us certainly don’t think of fresh salads or veggie burgers as holding prominent roles in the nation’s deeply French-influenced cuisine. But that’s all starting to change as more and more Belgians embrace plant-based diets. And for visitors, that means an incredibly colorful array of vegan restaurants and cafes to choose from.
While this list features eateries in Brussels, the capital isn’t Belgium’s only veg-friendly city. In fact, Ghent, a quaint medieval town in the Northeast, was recently dubbed Europe’s veggie capital. Ghent has more vegetarian restaurants per capita than almost anywhere else and is the first city in the world to observe a “veggie day” once a week.
So even if it’s not on the itinerary of your next European holiday, I’d recommend adding a pit stop in Belgium just to experience its surprising commitment to sustainable food. The Continent’s efficient train system makes travel a breeze, so why not?
Here are some of the best veggie finds in Brussels:
Go for: great coffee and upscale food in a casual environment.
This spot gets top bill because it’s the one that had me coming back for more. TICH is a spacious, lively cafe in the heart of one of the city’s many busy shopping centers. Go for the wi-fi and cozy throw pillows, stay for the to-die-for drinks made with wholesome ingredients. If coffee isn't your thing, they also offer nourishing elixirs, like a warming turmeric latte. All the drinks are brewed with TICH’s ultra-frothy house almond milk.
As a vegetarian or vegan in French-influenced Belgium, it can be frustrating to be a mere bystander as carnivores dig into the local fare. But TICH offers plant-based takes on some French staples, including a dish of fragrant green lentils with cashew cream and orange zest. Très délicieux!
Go for: the nutrition-packed lunch buffet and great desserts.
Cafes with quick bites seem to be a theme in Brussels’ vegan culinary universe. Foodmaker’s lunch buffet is a cut above the rest. It’s not the most authentic dining experience, but you’ll find a tasty variety of mixed salads, pasta, and casseroles. This unassuming spot is memorable because it relies on the natural flavors of fresh ingredients — veggies, fruits, and herbs — rather than an overload of seasonings or processed meat alternatives.
If you can’t make it for lunch, they carry an array of ready-made parfaits, salads, and wraps. And pop in any time of day or night for a slice of vegan chocolate cake.
From the Organic Authority Files
Go for: a no-frills dining experience and elegant ambiance.
Moonfood is a self-serve restaurant serving up casual, lovingly crafted vegan fare. You’re charged by the ounce here, making it a better value for your euro than many other sit-down places. Despite this, Moonfood doesn’t skimp on ambiance. The cozy, hip interior is dimly lit and elegantly decorated so you can allow yourself to feel a little fancy.
The rotating menu is fully vegan, with several delicious raw options. My personal favorite was a raw lasagna, made with fresh tomato and cashew-based sauces, and layered with thinly sliced zucchini and other veggies.
Go for: a good selection of vegetable dishes and casual lunch or dinner.
I’m not a huge fan of veggie patties that are made from, well, actual vegetables (I blame it on being fed too many Gardenburgers in high school). But AMI’s Mexico-inspired veggie burger made me change my tune.
AMI is guided by a philosophy of wellbeing and love for the environment. You can feel this through the friendliness of the staff, and of course, the entirely plant-based menu. The restaurant emphasizes going back to the basics, so you’ll find a large variety of vegetables dressed up in the form of purees, salads, burgers, and more.
Go for: a tasty, cheap, wholesome bite on the go.
Rushing to make your train, or getting by on your last few euros before catching a flight? Despite the European love of slow food, fast food has made headway in recent decades. And vegans haven’t been left behind. Try the popular EXKi or Greenway for the tastiest plant-based fast food Belgium has to offer.
EXKi boasts a large, predominantly vegetable-based seasonal menu featuring a salad bar and plenty of takeaway options. Greenway offers plant-based food that even meat eaters will savor, including its popular kebab wrap and a “meat lover’s” burger. Both options are light years ahead of your average fast food spot in terms of being nutritious and sustainable!
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