World Vegan Day: Is Germany the new mecca for ethical food?

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Israel is slowly losing its position of the world’s vegan revolution leader to a surprising country – Germany

More and more Germans are replacing their sausages with vegetables and vegan options — Hadrian / vegansMore and more Germans are replacing their sausages with fruits,  vegetables and other vegan-firendly options — Hadrian /

Bratwurst, currywurst, schnitzel, all splashed with gallons of beer. German cuisine has always been famous for its high levels of meat and calories intake, and not many people would associate it with the vegan lifestyle.

But not only have Germans developed their healthy-life culture to include the support of dishes based on fresh vegetables and low-sugar nutrients, the country is also slowly becoming one of the most progressive places for vegans.

“Veganism is now seen as a trendy lifestyle, and Germany is home to the most vegan product launch innovation. Today, vegan products attract attention from a much wider audience, namely health and ethically driven, flexi-vegan consumers,” said Katya Witham, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, who reported that Germany was the leading market of plant-based products in 2016.

Nowadays, Europe’s first vegan supermarket chain, 54 fully vegan and more than 320 vegan-friendly restaurants that are listed on HappyCow make the capital, Berlin, the new mecca for vegans.

Germans tend to replace meat substitutes with unprocessed meal

With the removal of dairy and animal-based products from their diets, clothing, and everyday accessories, vegans differ from vegetarians hugely, and the movement itself has been developing for more than 70 years.

Mintel's research suggests that Germany became the leading market for vegan products launch in 2016  — MintelMintel’s research suggests that Germany became the leading market for vegan products launch in 2016 — Mintel

The word vegan was coined in November 1944 by Donald Watson, co-founding member of the Vegetarian Society formed in the United Kingdom. Despite the fact that it only meant non-dairy vegetarianism back then and it didn’t exclude eggs and other animal products, the anniversary of this event is now celebrated as the World Vegan Day on 1st November every year.

Watson specified the full doctrine of veganism with the description “that man should live without exploiting animals” in 1951.

Veganism has evolved into a life-style followed by more and more people – in the USA, the vegan population has multiplied 5 times since 2014 – with certain countries leading the way forward.

While it was believed that Israel, with the world’s biggest percentage of vegans per capita, would be the vegan promised land, it looks as if it is Germany that takes the lead in the vegan revolution these days.

The trend towards naturalness plays a dominant role in the food choices of German consumers  — ShutterstockThe trend towards naturalness plays a dominant role in the food choices of German consumers — Shutterstock

According to the Mintel’s Global New Products Database Group Germany has experienced a rapid growth in vegan product launches during past years. In 2012 the country launched only one per cent of new vegan products in global scale, yet in 2016 it became the the leading market with “18 per cent of all global food and drink product launches with vegan claims.” That is one per cent more than in in the United States and eight per cent more than in the UK, the birthplace of veganism.  

While the original trend was to replace existing products by plant-based substitutes, such as sausages made of soy or tofu, people are more inclining towards unprocessed meal options, as Stefan Lorkowski, vice president of the German Nutrition Society, warns against the questionable quality of replacements.

“These products are a simple way of replacing meat,” Lorkowski told CNN. “There are some that are fantastic, but there are also some that are a disaster.”


[accordion title=”Click here to expand the Top 5 vegan-friendly cities”]

World Vegan Day: Is Germany the new mecca for ethical food?

 Berlin – Berliners are familiar with the widely accepted and practised vegan lifestyle, and it’s easy to find options wherever you go. There are 55 strictly vegan and more than 320 vegan-friendly restaurants, plus a variety of vegan oriented stores and supermarket chains.

Los Angeles is famous for its wide variety of international vegan cuisines. With more than 72 fully-vegan restaurants, and 18 of those are vegan Thai restaurants, there is plenty of options. Fitting options can be found in the 243 veg-friendly restaurants as well.

Warsaw – Veganism has a popular base in central Europe. The Polish capital, Warsaw, has rapidly grown into one of the most surprisingly vegan-friendly cities in the world. There are more than 38 restaurants, and almost all are walking distance from the main square

Taipei – the capital of Taiwan has gained the international reputation for its delicious and affordable vegan and vegetarian restaurants nearly everywhere in the city. While HappyCow lists only 30 fully vegan places and 207 veg-friendly restaurants, vegan options are accessible practically anywhere. 

Tel Aviv – Israel has the highest percentage of vegans per capita in the world and most of Tel Aviv’s 25 fully-vegan restaurants serve a combination of Israeli, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, with an influence from the west. [/accordion]

Lorkowski acknowledges that some of the plant-based options, such as soy yoghurt are enriched with vitamins lacking in vegan diets, but he insists that raw foods, grains and vegetables are also important.

“The trend towards naturalness plays a dominant role in the food choices of German consumers, who prioritize health benefits of unprocessed, natural and wholesome products,” said Witham in the Mintel report.