As a vegan I got the advice to learn to drink my coffee black instead of with creamer, since not many cafés had an alternative for milk-based creamer. I tried coffee without creamer, but I didn’t like it.
So, I am happy to report that more and more coffee places nowadays have alternatives for cow milk. And even better, more and more places have vegan pastries!
If you go down the rue de Mont-Blanc from Geneva Gare Cornavin you can find a small coffee place called Café Boréal. Boréal has several locations in Switzerland, both in Geneva and in Zurich. They sell their own brand of coffee, the beans of which are roasted near Geneva! The Mont Blanc location, near the station, has a few seats inside and several chairs and tables outside, on the main street. (I believe the other locations are a bit more spacious :))
The coffee shop has many types of hot drinks (coffees, matcha latte, chai latte (vegan!!), teas) and they offer several milk alternatives. There is a small selection of cakes and cookies available, and every time I visited there was a vegan option. Last time there was a vegan lemon cake with chia seeds and vegan cookies of a Swiss brand called Freely Handustry (which are also gluten-free, https://freelyhandustry.com/).
Situated in the Noorderplantsoen park, in a beautiful old building, you can find Anat. This cute little café offers breakfast, lunch, drinks, and cakes. And it is all vegan! Both of the times I visited I sat outside, but inside there is also space on the first floor, with a view on the park. Both times I was there the terrace was almost completely full! Fortunately Anat also does take-away.
The philosophy behind Anat is to respect humans, animals and the environment (something I think most of us can get behind) so the ingredients used are mostly biological and preferably local. In addition Anat also offers workshops and food consults. In the café there is also a small selection of vegan cookbooks for sale.
The ingredients used in the menu depend on the availability/season but in general the lunch menu is a variation on sandwich, salad and soup. There’s choice of two types of bread for the sandwich or it can be served as a wrap (one of the options is gluten-free). They also offered a combination plate which basically combined all the offerings (for 2 people).
Coffee is served with a selection of milk alternatives, and there’s hot chocolate milk on offer. There’s a variety of (slow) juices and tea. Now the cakes, let’s talk about those. When I last visited there were 4 type of cakes available: chocolate, banana, lavender and cupcakes. I couldn’t resist and tried a bit of each. They were all so delicious!
I have visited Anat only for lunch and coffee & cake. Based on that experience I am confident to say that the breakfast is probably great as well!
Type of place: Breakfast/Lunch/Coffee
Completely vegan: yes
Website (Dutch) : http://www.anat.nu/
Bubble tea is a Taiwanese drink based on tea (no suprise there!) which contains bobbles of e.g. tapioca. It is getting more popular in Western Europe, a development I am totally okay with, because I love bubble tea! In Geneva there are several places which offer bubble tea nowadays. My favourite of the bunch is Lemoncha. It is quite popular, and especially in the summer there were long lines. Still, the waiting time was not bad as the process of making the drinks is fast. Choosing the drink is what takes most time!
Lemoncha differs from most bubble-tea places that I have seen in the sense that they really focus on the “tea”-part. They offer several types of tea, such as genmaicha, earl grey, etc. On the menu are also fruit-flavoured drinks (which can be made vegan) and coffee (vegan too I suppose, though I have never tried them) .
Additionally several drinks noted as “lattes” are offered, which do contain milk since those are made from pre-made mixes which contain milk.
It is very much a choose-your-own-adventure place, but there are also standard combinations possible if the choices are too overwhelming:) You pick the types of bubbles, tea/flavours and milk (cow, soy, rice, almond). Most bubbles are vegan, but not all. Best to ask the staff about it, they are nice and knowledgable. The tapioca bobbles are the standard option and they are vegan. The drinks can be made cold or warm, and the amount of ice and sugar can also be modified.
In addition to their delicous drinks Lemoncha also offers vegan cookies and cakes! However, these are not always available as they are very popular and often sold out.
The Paquis region near Geneva Cornavin station is an interesting and lively neighbourhood. There are several great restaurants and one of those is the Ethiopian restaurant Awash (which is technically just outside of Paquis). It is tucked away near the train tracks, off the main street. From the outside it seems small and quiet, but once inside you find a busy colourful restaurant. When we visited it was quite busy and there was a lady selling jewellery on a small stand.
I had never been at an Ethiopian restaurant so I was very curious to try. There are several Ethiopian restaurants in Geneva, and the Ethiopian cuisine is known to be vegan-friendly. Awash states clearly on their site that they cater to vegetarians, so it would be a good introduction to Ethiopian food.
The restaurant serves both meat and vegetarian dishes. The vegetarian dishes turned out to be vegan! All food is served with injera, a type of pancake/spongy bread. The injera is used as cutlery to scoop up the food (I have to admit we asked for a spoon as we were not so good handling the injera!) The taste and structure of injera is quite special.
In total there are four vegan dishes, we chose the sharing plate which has a bit of each. The dishes were: red lentils (misir), salad, yellow beans and green vegetables with sauce. The food was served on a large round platter, and the various dishes were put on top of several injera, which soaked up the flavours nicely. There was a second plate with additional injera to use for eating.
The menu on the site is a condensed version, I couldn’t locate a full menu. There are in fact starters and dessert. I haven’t tried the starters when I was there, so I am not sure if there was a vegan option. I did notice other people order something like samosa’s, which tend to be vegan. The only dessert available when I visited is baklava, which was unfortunately not vegan.
Overall it is a place with a great atmosphere, and delicious food!
A concern for many people that decide to go vegan is that they won’t be able to go out for coffee/lunch/dinner with their friends and/or family anymore. While it is true that not every restaurant has something on their menu which is vegan or can be “veganised”, there are a lot of options for vegans at non-vegan places. Restaurants might have a completely vegan dish on their menu but it is not marked as vegan. Maybe a vegetarian dish can be modified. Maybe there are many sides which can be turned into a delicious full meal. Or maybe the chef decides to experiment to make you a great dish (it happens!)
The reason to start this journal is to record my experiences eating vegan at restaurants that are not necessarily catering to vegans. Since I currently live in Switzerland, that is where most of the places I visit will be. As I am lucky enough to live in a region with actual vegan restaurants, of course I’ll visit those and discuss them here too. Even if you never visit a restaurant that is mentioned here, maybe it will give you some inspiration for the types restaurants that will be vegan-friendly or which dishes that can be modified.