Prague: a Zero-Waste and Vegan Haven in the Heart of Europe
In the last decade or so, a bigger and bigger part of society has been adopting what some call the ‘trends’ of vegan and/or zero-waste lifestyles. Fortunately for the vegans and zero-wasters among us, the supply is controlled by the demand and as a result, we can see a huge rise in restaurants, cafés, shops and all kinds of other places that are either completely vegan or at the very least offer vegan and vegetarian options.
Additionally, more cruelty-free and plant-based products are introduced to the market every day and almost every bigger city has at least one zero-waste bulk shop or a shop with such a section. The Czech Republic and its main city might not be the first that comes to mind when you think about sustainable cities, but Prague can actually seem like a vegan and zero-waste heaven to those who have had the opportunity to tap into its hidden treasures.
Restaurants and Cafés
There are so many great vegan restaurants and cafés in Prague, that a whole article could be devoted to this topic alone, but for today let’s just talk about 3 chosen ones (you can find more vegan restaurants in the mobile app HappyCow):
You can play it safe with the biggest worldwide chain of vegan fast food restaurants. Loving Hut has over 200 branches around the world and you can choose from 8 different locations in Prague. In all of them you are given the choice to either order various Asian-style dishes from their menu or take a plate and pick what you want from the rich buffet, filled with healthy options.
(photo credit: Loving Hut)
The offerings may vary a little in different branches, but you can be sure to always find rice, noodles and potatoes to pair up with various delicious and exotic sauces and vegetables. Sweet potatoes, sushi and tortillas are some of the other dishes you might come across in these plant-based restaurants. Furthermore, if you enjoy having a little something sweet after your meal or you need something to go with your coffee or tea, don’t worry, because vegan and raw desserts are purchasable in most locations, as well as free water.
Websites are available for different countries – for Czech Republic go to www.lovinghut.cz. The menu is available in English and there is plenty of other information, including pictures of each location and a map to help you get there.
If you are looking for a fancier experience than just a simple fast-food chain, Waipawa is definitely one of the many places in Prague you shouldn’t miss. They make delicious burgers with surprising combinations, as well as vegan twists on some of the most typical Czech dishes, such as deep-fried cheese, all the way to simple, yet delicious pancakes with fruit sauce and plant-based cream. However, even if you order something as plain as a salad from their attractive menu, you will have had such a great culinary experience you’ll be planning your next visit from the very minute you step out of the door.
The exquisite food isn’t the only thing you’ll be coming back for. The charmingly cozy and friendly atmosphere of the place will make you forget all about the world outside. The time will pass by like a feather in the wind, while you’ll be enjoying your carefully prepared meal with some refreshing lemonade or a glass of your favorite alcohol beverage.
You can visit their website at www.waipawa.cz to see some of the dishes, choose from the two locations and look at the map. For now, only the Czech menu is available on the internet, but the staff will surely be more than happy to help you if you contact them via email or phone.
Sociální bistro a café střecha (Social Bistro and Café The Roof)
The Roof is very unique for quite a few reasons. First of all, they employ individuals who have experience with being homeless and/or ex-offenders. Therefore, the establishment helps the ‘unemployable’ get back in the system, which would otherwise be very complicated, sometimes even almost impossible.
Secondly, this place works as a cooperative ownership – the whole collective decides everything together. Everyone is given the opportunity to join the co-op and participate in running the bistro, once they’ve been working there for six months.
photo credit: Sociální bistro a café střecha
And last but not least, they are proving that vegan food can be affordable and available for everyone and doesn’t have to be all that fancy. By offering simply veganized, ordinary, common meals, the most expensive food isn’t more than 130czk (about €5). The daily menu includes two courses, with soup and a main dish for 120czk.
The dishes are uncomplex, yet delicious and similar things could be said about the space itself – simple, but very pleasant.
photo credit: Sociální bistro a café střecha
By visiting this place, not only are you paying for your food, but you’re also helping a good cause. And if you want to help some more, you can buy a so-called ‘hanging lunch’ or ‘hanging coffee’, which is a prepaid scheme for homeless people.
Find out more about the location and their Facebook or Instagram page on their website: www.bistrostrecha.cz. Make sure you have a look at some of their mouthwatering pictures of vegan desserts.
Vegan and Zero-Waste Shopping
Just as there are a great deal of places you can go for a bite if you’re vegan in Prague, there are many shops where you can get plant-based products and various vegan alternatives. You can always rely on the big chains such as Tesco, Kaufland, Albert and Lidl, as each of them have introduced their own plant-based brand in the last few years to meet the highly rising demand for such products.
The assortment varies in different stores, but you should always be able to find the basic vegan foods like plant-based milks and other non-dairy goods, such as tofu, spreads and soy products. However, if you’re looking for some non-cheese with actual taste, you might want to visit some of the healthy food shops, which focus on better quality products.
In case you’re looking for more ecological and zero-waste shopping, Prague has to offer quite a lot of package-free and bulk shops. Additionally, there are many second hand and charity shops, flea markets and even swaps, so you should never feel the need to go to a supermarket again. If you’re having trouble finding the right shop for you, there is a new waste-free map on www.reduca.cz which should help you. Let’s have a closer look at one of the best shops:
Probably the biggest player in the zero-waste field is a non-profit organization called Bezobalu, which is currently running three package-free shops in Prague Here you can buy anything from food to everything you might need for your bathroom. You can bring your own containers and bags or you can use some that other customers have left for people to use. Of course, if you have some of your own to spare, you can leave them for others as well.
photo credit: Bezobalu
As for the assortment, they offer among other things pasta, legumes of all sorts, rice, all the different types of nuts and berries, flours, sugars, salts, spices, oils, dairy and meat alternatives, vegan sweets, breads and also bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotions, shampoos, washing powders and much more.
To see the whole product list go to www.bezobalu.org. You can also find the opening hours of each of the shops.
The Most Important Thing
Whatever you do, wherever you choose to explore the vegan cuisine and whichever shop you visit, always enjoy it to the fullest and remember the awesome progress in the vegan and zero-waste world we are witnessing every day.
Like I said in the beginning, Prague has a lot of hidden treasures, so don’t waste your time and start exploring!