Veganism is a style of living that has become more common in western countries during past couple of years. The Paris Conference of the Parties, known as COP21, gave recently international attention for climate change issues. A famous document film Cowspiracy has also spread information about climate change and sustainability worldwide. According to many relevant sources, over-consumption of meat products needs to stop in order to prevent climate change.
Veganism is more extreme way of eating than just cutting down meat consumption. Vegans refuse to eat any animal products, including dairy products and eggs. Animal rights organizations argue that also egg and milk production cause lot of suffering for the animals. For example, in egg production almost all male chicks are culled because they do not lay eggs and because it is the most cost-effective way of getting rid of them.
Veganism is widely recognised as a valid, healthy diet that everyone can thrive on
It is important to notice that veganism has absolutely nothing to do with gluten-free diets or organic farming. I have noticed that many vegetarian or vegan restaurants in Brussels are also serving gluten-free food and they advertise that they use organic products. This leads to a thought that veganism in Brussels is more like a short-term dietary trend, in the same way as gluten-free eating is a diet trend.
Healthy vegan diet is formed of fruits, legumes, grains, nuts and vegetables. Grains play an important role in the diet. Veganism is widely recognised as a valid, healthy diet that everyone can thrive on, which is not the case in gluten-free eating.
Vegan food shopping
It is not easy to find all the needed ingredients for a proper vegan meal from a local grocery store in Brussels. You can find fresh vegetables, beans and nuts from the store, which is a good start. Extra protein sources, like soy or tofu, have to be bought somewhere else, which makes it more challenging. The grocery stores do sell different kinds of non-dairy milks, like soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk, but those are not inevitable for vegan diet.
Bio Shop located in Rue des Chartreux is one of the only places in Brussels where you can easily find everything that vegan needs. Bio Shop is an organic food chain in Belgium, but every shop works independently. This particular Bio shop has existed since 1978.
The owner of this shop, Jozef Devillé, estimates that ecological food choices have become more popular lately.
'Yes, natural and ecological food choices have developed and more people are interested in eating ecologically. It is expanding all the time', he says.
Devillé doesn’t think that veganism is the only option for this kind of eating. He undermines that all choices matter.
'Meat consuming has a big impact on our environment and pollution. It doesn’t mean that everyone has to be a vegetarian. I think veganism is quite extreme. Animals have their place in agriculture', he stresses.
We don’t need to eat a piece of meat every day
'Anyway, we don’t need to eat a piece of meat every day. Once a week, why not, but it is good to decrease meat consumption. And consumers are more and more willing to cut down eating meat.'
Affordable vegan restaurant options in Brussels
There are lot of interesting vegetarian restaurants in Brussels which also serve vegan portions. It won’t be hard to find a cosy vegetarian dinner place in Brussels. Most of the vegetarian restaurants are located in Ixelles, which is a urban and trendy area located about 3 kilometres from the city centre.
In case you don’t want to pay for a dinner but want to eat something small and affordable instead, check my tips below.
Vegetarian restaurant Ami serves several vegan portions and is also very affordable. Small burgers and salads cost about 5 euros each. Ami is located close to Place Flagey.
There are also lot of inexpensive food trucks, pop-up restaurants and eastern restaurants in Brussels that serve very good vegetarian and vegan food. Falafel is an easy and cheap food solution for vegetarians in Brussels. If you want to eat only vegan food, you have to explain carefully that you don’t want there to be eggs or dairy products in any form. Belgian restaurant workers don’t always know what veganism means, so you have to be ready to explain your order in detail.
Moonfood vegan café is a popular raw vegan café in the city centre. Food is also organic and gluten-free in there. The average price for a lunch is around 10 euros. They have a nice vegan buffet and price comes from the weight of the meal, so it is possible to eat only a little bit and enjoy atmosphere.