In the land of schnitzel and sausage, finding vegan food is surprisingly easy and quite delicious: from big buttery olives stuffed with chili peppers to smooth and creamy vegan ice cream, Vienna, Austria harbors a huge number of vegan delights for the vegan traveler.
Whenever people ask me some variant of, “Isn’t it hard to travel as a vegan?” my answer is typically, “No. Not at all. Vegan food is just fruit and vegetables and plants and grains–those are everywhere. And getting away from processed vegan foods is both enjoyable and good for me, so I relish the opportunity of eating just fresh fruit for breakfast or rice and veggies for lunch.”
That’s true, to some degree, but when I answer that, I forget that I like food. I really like food. I like eating it, and looking for it, and thinking about it, and talking about it, and writing about it and photographing it, and sharing those photographs with anyone who has two eyes and an Instagram account. And my natural predilection when I’m traveling is to seek out the local delicacies, done vegan-style. And sometimes, when I’m wandering around a city where I don’t speak the language, and can’t read the signs or menus, and my stomach starts growling, I really wish I could just dive into a cheap and easy cheese pizza or not walk past mile after mile of affordable local-flavor cafes. I dream of vegan options around the world being more ubiquitous.
So to be in Vienna, the land of wienerschnitzel and sausage, and find a good dozen vegan-friendly places, well, there goes my backpacking budget. (To be fair, my backpacking budget goes at the window at fairly everything. A glass of wine? Don’t mind if I do! Another glass? Well, OK, ‘cause YOLO. Oooh, a vegan bag of candy? OK! I’m basically a terrible backpacker.)
Turns out, Vienna (or Wien, as it’s called locally. Pronounced Veen. See, now you’re a linguist like me) happens to be a vegan haven for its health-conscious and animal-lovin’ citizens. The specialties seem to include fake meats (which I’ve had in abundance), Asian-style food with fake meat (which I’ve also had in abundance) and healthy micro raw food (which I’ve had zero). And ice cream. Not the watery ice-y sorbet we vegans get as a token at most places (though I appreciate the token, I do, token-givers!); real, honest-to-goodness, creamy, cold and sweet vegan ice cream.
So where did I find myself and what did I squeeze into three days?
Rauch Juice Bar Neubaugasse 13, 1070
A large fresh-pressed juice or blended smoothie is under 5 euro, so when you need a blast of fruit and veg to get you through the fried-food bonanza that is Vienna, this is the place to go. Favorite juice: the Chill Out (apple, celery and carrot).
Rupp’s Vegetarian Pub Arbeitergasse 46, 1050
Purveyors of vegan schnitzel. Traditionally, schnitzel is pounded pork or veal, breaded and deep-fried. I’m all about breaded and deep-fried, but make mine cruelty-free, please! Rupp’s is located centrally, an easy walk or hop on the Underground (public transportation in Vienna is a dream to navigate, by the way). From what I can tell, the vegan options are available for dinner only.
This is a vegetarian pub with all the vegan items clearly labeled. Big portions will fill you up easily, but make sure to save room for dessert–they offer an apple strudel that’s out of this world.
Formosa GmbH Barnabitengasse 6, 1060
This vegan food store is also a restaurant that serves Asian-style mock meats and vegan fast food. With offerings as diverse as chicken burgers (skip that one, the ‘burger’ is half the size of the tiny bun) and hot dogs to Japanese duck curry and vegan Cordon Bleu, all items are under 10 euros and there’s something for everyone (provided everyone likes fake meat). The fried chicken was enjoyable–definitely needed that lemon wedge–though I found the potato salad to be too sweet. I came here twice–it’s affordable, located next to the Naschmarkt, and one of the only vegan cafes open for dinner.
Bonus: vegan gummy sharks and cola bottles for sale by the register.
Xu’s Cooking Kaiserstraße 45, 1070
Come here for the lunch buffet. At under 8 euros, it’s all-you-can-eat and mostly vegan. Soups, salads, spring rolls, fried rice (with egg), curry and multitudes of fakes meats will fill you up. Make sure to get a piece of the seasonal watermelon with your dessert at the end of your meal. It gets busy during the lunch hour, but the staff makes sure to keep the buffet stocked and loaded. One of my favorite places to eat due to the variety.
Eis Greissler Rotenturmstraße 14, 1010
One of the most popular and more affordable ice cream shops in Vienna, there’s almost always a line snaking out the front door. It’s worth the wait. Just under half their options are vegan, and there’s really no reason not to get a double scoop. In a vegan waffle cone, naturally. I regret not getting the apricot flavor, but both the elderberry sorbet and the chocolate ice cream were worth it. I would have gone back the following day if not for…
Veganista Neustiftgasse 23, 1070
A recently opened all-vegan ice cream parlour centrally located. The staff is friendly and happy to answer questions, and while the scoops here are slightly more expensive than Eis Greissler, the array of options makes up for it. If the basilikum (basil) and orange saffron olive oil flavors are available when you stop by, make sure you try both. There’s always tomorrow to sample the others. My tomorrow involved the white chocolate and the Oreo cookie; the white chocolate was a tiny bit underwhelming, but the Oreo was delightfully chock full of cookies.
This is only a portion of the vegan restaurants in Vienna; as you can see, eating vegan in Vienna is enjoyable and very easy. And if your sense of direction is better than mine, you may not need to cross-reference your Google Maps to get around; turns out every restaurant and cafe I went to was within in a 20-minute walking radius, making your vegan adventure accessibly and enjoyable.
For more reviews and listings for vegan food in Vienna, visit Happy Cow.