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It's been a while since I last made a vegan travel post, but here it is, and it's about Brussels, Belgium. By now you already know that my favorite place to look up vegan and vegan-friendly places when traveling is HappyCow, and there are quite a few listings for Brussels. The obvious favorites in Brussels are waffles, fries, and chocolate, so I was hoping to find some vegan versions. As we only spent one night in Brussels, it was actually not necessary to try out a lot of places, however.
Unfortunately, some of the stuff that I had found online was already closed by the time we arrived Saturday afternoon. I was a bit disappointed as there was a café that sounded like a really nice place to check out, but these are the things that make you come back to a place again.
We did, however, manage to go to a place for excellent Belgian chocolate. Laurent Gerbaud is a chocolatier with a sweet little place not far from the Old Town. Upon entering we were greeted by the owner himself who later also cleaned our table. Refreshingly down to earth.
I had my first ever vegan hot chocolate which was made with soy milk. Of course, due to the dark chocolate, it was quite bitter, a bit too much so for my taste, but it was lovely to be able to sit outside in Brussels on the last weekend of winter with a hot chocolate. After the hot chocolate, we looked around the lovely store with many different chocolates on display. I purchased several vegan ones that I ate when we got back to our apartment, and they were miles ahead of any other chocolate I've ever had. Vegan chocolate from a Belgian chocolatier is exactly as good as one would hope.
Rue Ravenstein 2d, Brussels. Open Monday to Sunday 10:30am to 7pm. http://www.chocolatsgerbaud.be/
The next day, on the way back to the airport we stopped by at the train station to get something from a chain called Exki. They market themselves as organic fast food and have a few vegan options. I got some nice sandwiches for the trip that included a green lentil paste. Definitely a great little snack to have during the day.
There are several Exki stores all over Brussels, and since they're a chain I expect the option and service to be pretty much the same in all of them.
Gare du Midi, rue de France 85, Brussels. Open Monday to Friday 6:30am to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday 7:30am to 8pm. https://www.exki.com/en/restaurants/exki-midi
If you think like that doesn't sound like a lot to eat on a weekend, I have a confession to make: There was an accidental slip-up. I was sure that fries would be vegan so I went along when my boyfriend found a popular place for fries in Brussels. The line was really long which seemed to confirm the positive reviews. We patiently waited in line, and I ordered fries without any kind of condiment because I wasn’t really in the mood to ask if they had any vegan options. My first Belgian fries were really good, the portion was much too big, however.
Unfortunately, when I got back from Brussels and started researching for this post, I found out that, in contrast to Dutch fries, Belgian fries are usually not vegan. I sent a message to the place we got our fries from, and they confirmed that beef fat was used in the process. This just goes to show that you really can’t trust your common sense when it comes to whether or not something is vegan. If something is not labeled vegan be sure to check with somebody before ordering.
So I did get my Belgian chocolates and fries, just that this trip wasn't as vegan as I expected it to be. I didn’t end up finding vegan waffles either, but I have to say that the chocolates really made up for everything.
What about you? Have you ever accidentally eaten something non-vegan expecting it to be vegan?
Half Bulgarian Turk, half German living life as an expat in Greece.