Finding vegan food when traveling: HappyCow

When we are traveling to different places I usually like to look up the available vegan and vegetarian restaurants before we go. If I can eat in a vegetarian environment, why wouldn’t I? Plus I like to try out different kind of vegan foods in different places.

happycow logo

To find the restaurants I usually use the site happycow.net, where you easily can search for vegan, vegetarian and vegetarian friendly restaurants, as well as stores, in a city or area that you are interested in, pretty much anywhere in the world. You just type in the city you are looking for in the “search”-field and click the search button. The different alternatives will show up on a list as well as on a map, distinguishing between the different types of places (vegan, vegetarian etc.). You can also filter the results according to the type of restaurant, price class and distance.

When you click on the restaurant’s name it will show you a short description of the place, its address and opening hours and its price class. It will also show you where it is located on a map. Most places also have reviews and pictures from people who have been there, which can be really helpful in choosing if you want to visit the place or not.

I suggest you try it out for your next trip, or even for finding new places in your own city! I have found a lot of places here in Helsinki through HappyCow, that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

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Silvoplee, Helsinki

The vegetarian restaurant Silvoplee was first opened in Helsinki in 1999. Now it has recently moved to a new location at Toinen linja 7, just next to the Hakaniemi metro station. The restaurant serves mainly raw, but also cooked foods, in a buffet style where you pick what you want on a plate and pay by weight. Some dishes contain honey or dairy products, but most of the dishes are still vegan. They also have a separate smoothie bar/café and sell some organic food stuffs.

We have visited the place twice, the first time in the end of February, and the other time just recently. The first time we went there for dinner, the second time for lunch. At dinnertime there were several empty tables, but at lunch the place was really full. The atmosphere in the restaurant was pleasant, even when it was full, the interior is nice, bright and somehow peaceful.

silvoplee

The food was a nice experience, the buffet table was longer than I expected and I had to take only little of everything both times, since I wanted to taste all the different dishes. Above every dish there was a note listing its ingredients in Finnish, so knowing what is vegan or not was not a problem for me. The buffet table had some dishes that were the same both times we visited, such as the salad buffet, but some of the dishes change daily.

The food costs 22,30 euros/kilo, and if you choose to also have soup that one costs 17,30 euros/kilo. The price includes bread and fresh water. The times we have went there my food has cost 10-13 euros, while R’s food has been a little more; 15-18 euros.

silvoplee

I really liked the place both times, the food is good-looking and fresh, you get full without feeling stuffed. Of course there were dishes that didn’t fit my taste, but most of them were really good both times and I have found some favorites among those that they seem to have all the time. We are definitely going back again, probably several times.

Vegemax, Helsinki

Last week we ended up having an unplanned dinner at the vegetarian fast food place Vegemax, which is situated on Pieni Robertinkatu 2-4. We were in the city and passed the place, so why not go and try it out?

I expected the place to have mostly vegetarian foods and only a few vegan alternatives, but they actually have around 50/50, with one vegan menu and one vegetarian. I had their vegan kebab with sweet potato fries, and R had seitan in coriander sauce with baked potatoes. Both our plates cost 10,50 €, which was one of the most expensive foods they had on the menu. They also serve different kind of burgers and salads, and you can order fries separately, just like at any other fast food place.

vegan kebab and sweet potato fries

coriander seitan and baked potatoes

I liked the food – sometimes it’s nice to get to eat fast food also as a vegan – it was enough to make me full without making me feel stuffed and the taste was good. It was not too greasy and I liked the fact that you got the food with several different types of sauces.

The place itself is very small and if it’s full, like when we arrived, it feels quite crowded because you have to sit so close to the other guests. When we were there all the other guests happened to be eating alone and the place was very quiet, so we felt awkward to be the only ones talking. However, the place was very clean and nice looking, unlike many other fast food places.

Maybe there will be a next time, if I’m in the mood for fast food some day. Vegemax is open Monday to Thursday at 11 am to 8 pm, Friday 11 am to 10 pm and Saturday 12 noon to 10 pm.

Café Veganissimo, Helsinki

Yesterday we visited the vegan restaurant Café Veganissimo here in Helsinki. It is located at Kulmavuorenkatu 2 and is the only fully vegan restaurant in Helsinki (that I know of at least – please tell me if I’m wrong!).

The restaurant only serves lunch, in weekdays you can choose between a soup lunch that includes salad, or a buffet lunch with warm food, salad and soup. Both choices include coffee or tea and bread made at the restaurant. On Saturdays they serve a buffet brunch or other themed buffet.

Since it was Saturday we came there for the brunch buffet which costs 15 euros. What it consisted of can be seen in the pictures below (even though the quality of the pictures is not the best). Apart from what you can see in the pictures there were also cereals, a smoothie, coffee and tea.

Vegan buffet at Café Veganissimo Vegan buffet at Café Veganissimo

I enjoyed going out to eat and not having to ask if dishes are vegan, that I could just eat anything I liked in the buffet. The food itself was fine, it was nothing amazing and part of it had already gotten cold, but I was full and satisfied when we left. I especially liked the rice with black beans, the potato salad and the Karelian pasty (even though it would have been better served warm and not cold like this one) as well as the pancakes that we had for dessert.

The guy working in the restaurant was nice, he went around and talked to the people and asked if the food was alright. We had a chat with him about if they make cakes, since we saw boxes for cakes on their counter, and it turns out they do cater different types of cakes. As I understood by their website you can also book the restaurant for private parties outside lunch hours.

I also liked the relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant, I felt like you can just come as you are and you don’t either have to hurry. People were sitting and talking and the restaurant even had board games that you could play if you wanted.

I will probably go back sometimes – not because the food was great, but because the place is all vegan and it feels so much better to eat in such a place than a place that serves dairy and eggs – or even meat. Reading through their menu from this past week on their website I also got the feeling that maybe we went there on the wrong day, since a lot of the dishes mentioned on other days seemed more interesting than what we had – so it’s probably worth another visit also just to try what else they have to offer.

Eating at Vegana

A few days ago we finally had time to visit Vegana here in Vaasa and taste their food.

They serve a lunch buffet that costs 9,50 € (includes a salad buffet, warm food, bread, water and tea). For one euro extra you can also have soup. You can also have take-out from the buffet table, you just pick what you want to have into a box and pay by weight.

When we came there I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of food, because I’m so used to being able to eat just a few dishes in a buffet. Most of the food was different types of fresh vegetables and salads. The warm food of the day was oven roasted vegetables and a creamy spaghetti with pieces of soy protein. They also had several different types of bread as well as three types of vegetarian salami.

vegana lunch

I had a little scare when we read the ingredients of the different salamis and one of them had eggs, since I had got the understanding that the place was completely vegan. We had to ask about it and make sure that the rest of the food was vegan, which it fortunately was. So if you go there as a vegan, check twice and ask if you’re not sure about the ingredients!

Apart from the restaurant, they also sell food stuffs. I did not have time to check so closely what exactly they were selling, but at least different types of lentils and beans, soy milk and yoghurt, vegan cheese, bread etc.

The food was good – simple and fresh – and I’m curious what else they have to offer, so I will definitely go back some other day.

And then there were two

Not long ago I wrote about Vaasa’s first vegetarian restaurant in a long time, Vegana, that opened in the end of July. Yesterday (August 14) the second vegetarian restaurant/café in town, Raawka, opened it’s doors. This is how the women who own the café present their place on their facebook-page:

“Raawka is an organic cafe that specializes in raw food, vegetarian and vegan food. We serve breakfast and lunch. We also offer smoothies, coffee, tea and pastries in a comfortable environment.
All our products are organic, gluten and sugar-free.
Our vision is to promote environmental awareness and healthy choices for a better future.”

The café is located in Palosaari, on Palosaarentie 23-25, and they are open Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 5 pm, as well as Saturday 11 am to 2 pm. I don’t know what price range the food is in, and I don’t know much more about the menu than what is mentioned above. However, they post their daily lunch options on their facebook page, and so far it has seemed quite yummy.

I am so happy that Vaasa is finally getting some vegetarian food places, because there has not exactly been any good options around here for vegans that want to eat out, or non-vegans or vegetarians that just want something different from the typical Asian or western food for that matter. Some people seem to think this change towards more vegetarian food is just a fad, a kind of “green food wave”, but I believe, and I hope, that it’s more than that. I believe people are finally opening their eyes towards the harm a diet saturated by animal products does to us, to the environment and to the animals, and want to change their habits at least a little bit.

New vegan restaurant in Vaasa

Next week a new vegan restaurant will open in the town where I live. With a population of around 60 000 Vaasa is definitely a small town and far from any vegan paradise. Sure, you can find a whole bunch of vegan food stuffs and other products here, but nothing compared to other cities here in Finland (not to talk about other countries). A vegan restaurant is really something I’ve only been able to dream about. Until now.

The lunch restaurant Vegana will open on July 30, and will be open around lunch time every day except Saturday (weekdays 10am – 2 pm, Sundays 12 noon – 4 pm). It is located 0n Vaasanpuistikko 17. I don’t know much about the type of food they will serve or the price range yet, but it will be interesting to go there try it out. I promise to write something about it once I’ve had time to go there!

The restaurant’s website is not yet finished, but the menu and other information is supposed to come up there in a near future.