This post was originally posted in 2013.
One of the reasons for our whirlwind trip was a wedding in my boyfriend’s family in his home town of Lingen. The city is the equivalent to Wagga Wagga population wise, so you can imagine that I didn’t have high expectations of vegan offerings. Here’s what it’s like to be a vegan in a small German city…
What do you think of when someone talks about German food? Schnitzel? Bratwurst? Meat, meat and more meat, topped off with a stein of beer? While zee Germans certainly do love all of the above, the country also has the second highest rate of vegetarianism in Europe – my guess is that the ever-present concern for the environment in the community plays a pretty large role in that.
When we arrived at the in-laws an array of vegan friendly food was presented by my boyfriend’s Mum. She had an collection of spreads, vegan sausages, veggie patties and millet balls. I was impressed and couldn’t wait to check out where she’d bought all of the goodies! On the first night the ‘Grillmeister’ (his Dad) cooked up a BBQ with this amazing Wheaty Vegan Grill-Mix for me. These have to be the most realistic tasting seitan sausages I’ve had yet, they tasted just like bratwurst and to top it off his Mum veganised her famous potato salad to go with them – winning!
The next day we rode our bikes into the city centre to check out the shops. In a city of 52,000 people we found three ‘Reformhauses’ which are like little organic, or ‘Bio’ stores as the Germans call them. Wiki tells us that these Reform Houses adhere to the principles of ‘Lebensreform‘ – a 19th century social movement that propagated a back-to-nature lifestyle, emphasizing among other things health, raw and organic food, nudism, sexual liberation and alternative medicine – oh la la, sehr interessant! There weren’t any nudists running the stores, but they did have a huge range of vegan products. Thanks to some recommendations on Instagram I picked up Wilmerburger cheese (so yummy, and the only vegan cheese worthy of a sandwich!) and Lovechock, some yummy raw chocolate similar to Loving Earth. Now to get The Cruelty Free Shop to stock them….
So there you go, while you can of course live a vegan lifestyle anywhere you can find legumes and veggies, it’s also so amazing to see how many different products are on offer in a small German city – I wonder how Wagga Wagga fares in comparison?
It was also lovely to get back to nature in Lingen. Going to bike rides, checking out the nature reserves with free roaming highland cows (random much?), wild horses and tonnes of bunnies, walking along the river complete with ducklings and swans – it was great to have some relaxation before the busy schedule ahead!
Sadly though, Lingen and its surrounds are farming areas. While there was lots of corn and wheat we also drove by a few factory farms, completely boarded up with no chance of sunlight reaching the animals inside… I also witnessed a truck full of pigs being sent off to slaughter; such a horrible sight and proof that these systems are really in action everywhere…
Next up on my vegan travels is Berlin, my old stomping grounds!