When you think about vegan friendly countries, I bet Austria isn’t top of the list. I bet it’s not even in the top 5. But if you look a little closer – you might be surprised.
Traditional foods such as schnitzel, goulash and apfelstrudel, are more likely to spring to mind rather than a smorgasbord of vegan delights. But over the past few years, just like in the UK, it’s become easier to eat vegan in other countries too – and Austria is no exception.
When we first started planning our trip I was a little concerned. But a bit of research about where we were staying helped put my mind at ease.
Not technically Austria. Okay, not Austria at all. But we flew from Manchester to Munich, and then drove to Austria – so our first vegan food challenge started at Munich airport.
Having a 3-hour drive ahead of us also meant we were keen to hit the road, so we needed something quick to eat. The most obvious answer was chips from McDonalds, but as soon as I walked in and smelt the grease – I turned around and walked straight back out again.
After a quick look around the airport, we found a Turkish kebab place called Oliva, where we managed to bag ourselves a vegan burger and a falafel wrap. The wrap was delicious. So good in fact, we had it again when we returned to Munich for our flight home. Just make sure you’re clear about what toppings you want on it. They put yoghurt on the first time around and then had to remake it when they realised we wanted it vegan.
In larger cities like Vienna, finding vegan food doesn’t appear to be much of an issue.
But staying in the small town of Strobl in the Austrian Lake District, we didn’t hold many expectations for being able to eat out. Staying in an apartment meant our main priority was finding a supermarket. A quick Google search beforehand showed there were at least 4 within a 15-minute drive: Spar, Hofer (Aldi), Adeg and Billa, plus a health food shop. So, at least we knew we wouldn’t starve! The fact we also discovered an Italian Pizzeria that had a vegan pizza option was an added bonus.
Bilobi Bioladen is a small health food shop and cafe in the centre of Strobl. They’re open between 9am – 1pm (closed on Wednesday) and serve vegan breakfast and brunch. In the shop they sell a range of foods, including dry goods like vegan and gluten free pasta and muesli, along with fresh fruit and veg etc. It was a lovely little shop, but we found it to be quite expensive. You can find them on Eisenstrasse 95, 5350 Strobl.
Just like in the UK, Spar isn’t the cheapest place to buy food from. But on our first night we didn’t have a choice – it was the only supermarket still open. By the time we’d checked into our apartment, we made it to the Spar with just enough time to grab a few bits to keep us going for a few days. We’d taken some items with us, like muesli and snack bars etc, so our mission was to find food for main meals. Oh, and some vegan chocolate of course!
In the UK, Spar is more like a local shop. It’s quite small and people normally use it as a place to grab something they’ve run out of – rather than for a weekly shop. In Austria, it’s a full supermarket and we managed to grab a decent vegan haul.
We also got a stash of pasta, rice and some other sauces. You can find them at Weißenbach 250, 5350 Strobl – quite conveniently next to a petrol station.
Adeg is the supermarket in the centre of Strobl and was within walking distance of our apartment. Unfortunately, we soon discovered their prices were on par with the local Spar. We used it for picking up gluten free muesli, vegan chocolate and falafel – which we used for lunchtime wraps while we were out hiking. You can find them at Moosgasse 105, 5350 Strobl.
Hofer – or Aldi as it’s known throughout the rest of Europe – became our supermarket of choice. Their prices were cheaper, and they had a good selection of fresh fruit and veg. They also had a decent selection of vegan treats too. You can find them at Salzburger Str. 94, 4820 Bad Ischl-West.
Approx. 15 minutes away in St. Gilgen, we’d heard good things about Billa. We were under the impression it was more of a health food shop, where we could find a wider selection of vegan friendly and gluten free food. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as outstanding as we’d been led to believe. There wasn’t as much choice as we thought there would be. They had the same selection as the other supermarkets and it was quite expensive. You can find them at Gschwanderweg 2, 5340 St. Gilgen.
Considering Strobl is quite small, eating out was easy. We found a local pizzeria called Carl-Zone that offered a couple of vegan options on their menu. One was Pizza and the other was pasta. The pizza was so good, I’d say it’s the best vegan pizza I’ve ever tasted. The ingredients were so fresh – we ate here twice, choosing pizza both times.
The staff were really helpful and friendly, but Carl-Zone is definitely a place for locals. If you’re a League of Gentlemen fan, you’ll understand what I mean when I say it’s a local place for local people.
The other place we ate at was the Kirchenwirt Hotel. We turned up at Carl-Zone one lunchtime only to find it closed, so we had a meander around Strobl looking for somewhere else to eat. Kirchenwirt had one vegan option on their menu, which was basically a dish of roasted vegetables. We didn’t expect it to be anything special, but it turned out to be delicious.
About 5km away in Wolfgangsee, there was even a food truck that offered vegan pitta breads – ideal for a quick and easy lunch.
And in St. Gilgen, we discovered an ice-cream shop that sold vegan ice-cream. The owner was so friendly. He must have thought he’d hit the jackpot when we turned up, because we visited nearly every day during our stay! On our last day, we were disappointed to find that he was closed. We waited. And waited. And waited some more – hoping he was opening a little later that day, like some of the other shops. Unfortunately, we soon realised this was his day off and our run of vegan ice-cream had come to an end!
Finding vegan food was easier than we thought it would be. We managed to buy everything we needed and even managed to eat out. But, we also thought a lot of the supermarkets were expensive.
We did a lot of hiking while we were away, so much of the food we bought was for packed lunches. We made falafel wraps, jamwiches, fruit salad, and bought a selection of dried fruit and nuts to make our own trail mix.
Eating out every night isn’t something we do when we go away, we prefer to mix it up a bit. Some nights we cook and other nights we go out.
There are probably more places that offer vegan options, so if you’re thinking of visiting Strobl, or other nearby towns, just head to your favourite search engine to do some research.
Have you ever been to the Austrian Lake District? How easy was it to find vegan food?