Barbora, one of our friendly guides from the Czech Republic gives you the lowdown on all things vegan in Prague:
A first glance at some of our traditional Czech meals might make you think that there are no greater meat-eaters in this world than the Czechs. But don’t get misled! Roasted duck, pork knuckle, and all kinds of sausages might be essential for our cuisine, but these are by far not the only things we have to offer.
Prague is a very progressive city and the vegan lifestyle has been positively embraced over the past few years. Sometimes it seems as if there is a new vegan restaurant opening up every day! A few of them have probably opened their doors for the first time in the time it has taken me to write this article! Even supermarkets have noticed that not everyone cares about animal products anymore and most of them have added vegan goods on their shelves. Sometimes it’s not even mixed with all the meat and cheese but it gets its own section! That’s progress for you…
If you are still doubting whether there will be anything for you to eat in this city, let me take you on a little virtual tour through the vegan side of Prague; I’m pretty confident you’ll be booking those plane tickets before you know it!
I know I said that Czech cuisine was VERY meat-based, but most of my ancestors would probably be quite surprised by such a claim. In the past, they did not slay tons of cows, pigs or chickens every day, meat was actually considered a luxury. For most of the year, if you were middle to upper class, you could afford to have a piece of meat on your table once a week. Even my grandma, who grew up on a prosperous farm, recollects meat being very rare back then and she shakes her head in disbelief every time she walks around a vegan restaurant today. It makes no sense to her that people should choose not to eat meat now that it’s all around us…
But wait a minute, what did people eat then, if not meat? Well, a lot of the same things they serve in the vegetarian and vegan restaurants around town nowadays. In fact, many traditional Czech meals, even those containing meat or other animal products, can easily be transformed into vegan versions. And what would some of these typical meals be?
A 100% vegan traditional Czech meal is the so-called staročeský kuba. People used to eat it on Christmas Day because the tradition says you are not supposed to eat meat until dinner. Kuba consists of boiled barley, sometimes also called groats, and mushrooms. But you would have to be extremely lucky to find this on a menu of any restaurant around Prague, to be honest.
What you can definitely find, especially during the various market seasons in Prague, is the street food called bramborák. It is basically a potato pancake, which traditionally includes eggs in its recipe, but can be made without them just as easily. You can eat it on its own, with garlic or with sauerkraut. And it’s delicious. And heavy!
While other Czech recipes usually include meat or dairy products, there are alternative ways of preparing most of these in a vegan version. This includes all the heavy-sauce-based dishes with dumplings, such as svíčková, guláš or rajská. More and more restaurants around Prague started to put these on their menus because they know Czechs like their knedlíky even when they don’t eat meat. Let’s see, what the city has to offer!
I suppose you will want to visit Prague Castle during your stay in the city? You might as well stop for a lunch at Vegan’s Prague, which is just a stone’s throw from there. While the prices are slightly above average (as expected for a location so close to the action), the food and the view are definitely worth it. This place is very tourist-friendly and it is perfect for trying vegan versions of some of the traditional Czech meals.
If burgers are your thing, then Forky’s is a must. While also being very conveniently located (not far from the Old Town Square with the famous astronomical clock), Forky’s offer both Czech and international cuisine. Very modern, very simple and very delicious. Another burger option is Belzepub, which, although a bit further from the city centre, boasts some of the best vegan burgers in town.
Modern interior design, great prices, and a different menu every day – that’s restaurant Pastva. They specialize in light and healthy meals such as soups, salads or pasta, but always rich in protein. You will also find a wide selection of vegan desserts, homemade lemonades, and other products from local farms. Pastva is located in the new part of town called Smíchov.
If you ever happen to wander in the hipster neighbourhood of Vršovice, you need to visit the restaurant Plevel. This is definitely one of the most popular vegan restaurants among locals, as well as a cool hipster hangout. Their daily menu often includes vegan burgers, pasta or Indian cuisine. And if you like Plevel, I’m pretty sure you are also going to appreciate Moment. Although designated as a café, Moment has a wide offer of vegan meals and desserts that even hard-core meat-lovers cannot resist.
Being vegan is not just about your diet or lifestyle. It is also a way of looking at society; a political stance. And as such, it is often linked to other contemporary social issues. The owners are well aware of this proximity at Sociální bistro Střecha (Social Bistro Rooftop), where they focus not only on vegan cuisine but also on social support and communal values. Employing people from difficult backgrounds, Střecha offers hope not only to animals but also to their staff. During the week, they serve mainly Czech-style dishes, while every Saturday they host international brunches.
A similar concept can be found in Jídelna kuchařek bez domova (The Cafeteria of Homeless Cooks). While this one might not seem exactly tourist-friendly, it is very popular among locals. If you want to try something truly Czech without compromising your vegan diet and stay on a low budget all at the same time, this is the place to go! And you will also be supporting the homeless women who work there by visiting, making it a win all round.
If you are looking for real high-quality fresh food, try vegan bistro Sandokan. Reasonable prices and Indian flavours is what you might expect to find here. Another option is Vegan City Bistro. This fairly new project boasts is situated in a great location with delicious food, friendly staff, low prices, and no tourists around, all in one package!
You have probably heard of chain restaurants such as Loving Hut before. While the quality of the food might not be the same as in the local-brand restaurants, it is still a very convenient, fast and affordable way of obtaining vegan food, especially while on the move. There is a couple of them around the city and they offer Asian-style buffets with price by weight.
Dhaba Beas would be another option, offering diners more Indian-orientated cuisine. Be careful with this one though, as some of their desserts may contain dairy products, so be sure to ask before you order! A little local tip: if you come less than an hour before the closing time, there’s usually a 50% discount on the food, although the selection might be limited.
For a healthier version of a vegan chain restaurant, visit one of the Country Life bistros. Country Life is primarily an e-shop with healthy and organic products, but recently they started to open cafeteria-type restaurants around the city. Reasonable prices and healthy vegan food, what else does one need?
Hey, who doesn’t love a piece of pizza once in a while? Even vegans need their pizza! For that, we have Pizza Letná. Not far from the picturesque Letná Park, this pizza stand will delight you with their vegan and gluten-free pizza options. Vegan cheese included. Yummy!
What you definitely need to try, however, are our world-renowned open-face sandwiches called chlebíčky. You will find them at every proper Czech party and if you want a vegan version, Chlebíček Store is here for you. It’s as if you haven’t even been in the Czech Republic if you didn’t try one chlebíček.
I bet you might crave some ice cream in the summer. Crème de la Crème has got your back! This gorgeous ice cream parlour in the midst of the Old Town is exactly what you need. And guess what? It’s not just fruity vegan ice cream like they do everywhere else; Creme de la Creme actually produce a creamy vegan one! Hurrah!
I already mentioned Country Life bistros, you might as well get some groceries there while enjoying your lunch. If you like pastry (and it’s all about pastry in the Czech Republic), try Rozmarýna. They bake their own fresh pastry every day, but they also have a wide selection of dried legumes, nuts, and other organic products. And it’s very very local.
World Vegan store is not only centrally located but also has just about anything you can think of. Things that you didn’t even know existed in vegan form, they have them there. And in great quality, too!
Bezobalu is not primarily a vegan store, but their zero-waste concept is closely related to vegan lifestyle. With all the environmental crisis thriving around, zero-waste is actually a big thing in Prague right now. And you want to fit it, don’t you?
But let’s be honest, for a regular grocery shopping, you might as well go to any large supermarket. I would recommend either Tesco or Lidl, where you can find the list of ingredients and allergens next to the price tag of most products. Since vegan lifestyle is cool nowadays, most of these stores have built their own vegan sections, where you can find everything from yogurts to milk alternatives, cheese, spreads, and anything else you might think of.
If you’re looking for cosmetics, BIOOO in the Kotva shopping mall at Náměstí Republiky will do the thing. How about some vegan fashion? Eco Fashion Labels have everything from shoes to vegan leather-products and stylish clothing. Pricy but smooth! EtikButik might be a bit more friendly towards your budget, though. And in Bohempia they made clothes and shoes out of hemp! That’s definitely vegan.
With the growing interest in vegan diet and lifestyle, people started to form little communities and societies to share their experience with being vegan in Prague. There is a Facebook page called Veganská sektávání v Praze (vegan meetings in Prague), which might seem rather Czech-oriented, but they organise events that are regularly visited by foreigners as well. One of these events is a regular vegan dinner, that takes place once in a while and everyone is expected to bring something to share so that there is enough food for everyone.
As for other events, there are festivals dedicated to all kinds of vegan food all throughout the year. We have Vegan Burger Festival in April, Veggie Náplavka at the beginning of May, or Raw Food Festival in August. If you happen to be in town around Christmas Time, we also have Veggie Vánoce, that includes a creative workshop with inspirational tips for vegan and zero-waste Christmas gifts. Now, that’s something special!