Summer Holidays & Vegetarian Travel: Prague

With Spring behind us and the return of sunny blue skies (well, we can wish), thoughts of where to spend your hard earned holidays begin, among other concerns: Can I manage a holiday this year? Where do I want to go? And, the all important question: when I get there where can I eat?  For most Brits, hopping over to the continent is the most common option and here at Veg Rev we can recommend a few veggy friendly cities to explore! So here goes…

I’d love to be able to receive requests from people asking for the veggie down-low on a sun-drenched clime, pack my bags and go merrily on my way, then report back on my findings. Wouldn’t we all? Sadly, that’s just a dream. But, I can share my veggie food experiences on the places I have visited.

The first place which stands out vividly in my mind is Prague. It’s an absolute gem of a city, nestled deep in the heart of Bohemia where history, culture and god-like architecture saturate each quarter. It’s unique and beautiful. There’s no surprise then that vegetarians (and vegans) will find themselves happily catered for.

Supermarkets and shops for vegetarians and vegans in Prague

A variety of health-food and vegetarian stores are sprinkled around the city. Check out the Vegan Backpacker’s website here which provides a very comprehensive (and illustrated!) list of the top veggie/vegan shops around Prague. Also, to note, there’s a big Tesco’s in Prague as well so you’ll be able to find some familiar vegetarian products,.

Europe does not follow the same labelling protocols and norms as in Britain. In the Czech Republic, as with most of Europe, they won’t specify if something is vegetarian or not, which is extremely frustrating and worrying. What you need to look for is the Czech for animal rennet and non-animal rennet: živočišné means non-vegetarian rennet, mikrobiální means microbial coagulant. The word ‘mikrobiální’ will be your best friend in the supermarket in Prague- it usually means something is vegetarian and you’ll mostly be looking at dairy products in this case. I wouldn’t bother going to the hassle of buying, say, sweets or other products you know might contain animal products and are non-essential. At this point in time, it’s too much hassle as a vegetarian in Europe to even get the staples, let alone the luxuries afforded to us Brit-veggies.  We’re working on it. So if you’re looking for the essentials, like cheese, and it doesn’t specify what type of rennet is used, I would advise putting the cheese down and walking away. Walk away from the cheese.

To help, here’s information on a popular dairy brand in the Czech Republic, Madeta, which has some vegetarian cheeses that can be bought at Tesco’s.

Vegetarian Restaurants in Prague

Excitingly, a vegetarian restaurant can be found just around the corner from the Tyn Church, of the … plaza.

Maitrea, meaning ‘loving kindness’, is a beautiful restaurant spread over two floors and its layout has been designed around feng shui principles. The interior includes two real water fountains, a fireplace and large statue of Buddha. From the seats to the lamp shades and the wooden spiral staircase, everything has been hand crafted and designed. When you enter this place it’s like stepping into a magical world.

A world which caters to vegetarians and vegans, and plays with exciting food combinations. The choice is staggering and the creativity inspiring. I’ve been to Prague twice and, on each visit, have eaten here. I would highly recommend this to anybody. The atmosphere is truly special, the service is friendly and the food is delicious. And, all importantly, it won’t burn a hole through your wallet. The prices are extremely reasonable; so much so that every time I go there I have to double check the bill! To give a flavour of what they’re offering you can have huge chunks of roasted red peppers with rocket, parmesan (yes, vegetarian parmesan style cheese!!) and rustic style bread to start, a Mexican bean burrito with salad, yoghurt and guacamole for a main and caramel wafers with white chocolate ice cream and strawberries for dessert. Washed down with a big pint of homemade lemonade or choose from their decent selection of wines and beers. All vegetarian of course.

When you’ve finished at Maitrea you’ll have difficulty moving afterwards because you’ll be so full and satisfied! A word of warning: the portion sizes are very generous. A pleasant and welcome surprise!

Maitrea has been open for three successful years. It also has a sister cafe, Clear Head or Lehkahlava near the Vltava. I haven’t visited Clear Head Restaurant yet as I was so taken with Maitrea the first time I went that I knew, when I came back to Prague, I would have to go again. In fact, I’d go so far as saying it’s a mandatory requirement to visit Maitrea when in Prague! But if Maitrea is anything to go by, Lehkahlava is definitely worth a visit too.

Veg Rev Rating :

Food 4.5/5 (they use egg which is the major downside)

Service : 4.5/5 (sometimes it gets quite busy so make sure to book in advance or be prepared to wait !)

Value for Money : 5/5

Location : 5/5