It’s estimated that more than 8 million Germans (around 10% of the population) eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, placing them amongst the top 10 countries worldwide for meat-free mealtimes. Countrywide, there’s also a tangible consciousness for matters concerning environmental conservation and sustainability.
This collective mindset means the country has become the first point of call for some of Europe’s most plant-forward businesses. In 2011, Europe's first vegan supermarket chain, Veganz, was born in Berlin and has since spread both nationally and internationally to stock supermarkets throughout Europe. A few years later, the world's first vegetarian butchery opened its principal concept store, der Vegetarische Metzger, in the capital.
With vegetarian and vegan restaurants across the country collecting Michelin Stars and international awards, here’s our pick of some of Germany’s best plant-forward dining options.
Arguably the place that kickstarted modern vegetarian dining in Germany, Cookies Cream was the forerunner of meat-free fine-dining when it started serving vegetables and herbs from its own garden back in 2007. Fast forward to 2017 and the experimental, solely vegetable-focused cuisine (which deliberately avoids rice and pasta) pioneered by chef Stephan Hentschel was awarded its first Michelin star. Recalling the time when he first started creating dishes - way before the current obsession of using traditional preservation methods took hold, Hentschel said: “More than ten years ago we would have a look at old recipes and cookbooks to find out how to ferment and preserve products in special ways. Today, we still use these traditional methods, but we’ve also added more recent ones like shock-frosting.”
Behrenstraße 55, 10117 Berlin
Berlin is frequently alluded to as the European king of the vegetarian diet so it will come as no surprise to learn that the city boasts two restaurants in the Michelin guide. Lucky Leek has held a coveted Bib Gourmand placing since 2017, recognising head chef Josita Hartanto’s prowess for executing satisfyingly inventive and often totally vegan plates. The restaurant’s menu doesn’t aim to mimic missing protein elements (which is where other vegetarian restaurants often fall short), choosing instead to elevate every element of component vegetable ingredients such as jackfruit.
Kollwitzstraße 54, 10405 Berlin
You’ll find a crunchy and knobbly surprise on your plate at Frankfurt am Main’s Seven Swans, thanks to the restaurant’s Braumannswiesen vegetable fields in neighbouring Bad Homburg which are managed according to sustainable cycles of permaculture and cover an area the size of over two football fields. The 24-seat restaurant serves one thing only: a six-course, biological and radically regional interpretation of the season which the restaurant employees help nurture by taking it in turns to sow, plant and harvest. Former Chef de Cuisine, Jan Hoffmann, carried the kitchen into Michelin starred glory last year, and his predecessor (former S.Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year), Ricky Saward, promises to stretch out this legacy with his unique “leaf-to-root” cooking approach that circumnavigates menu monotony with fermenting, smoking, drying and more.
Mainkai 4, 60311 Frankfurt am Main
For the past 40 years Hamburg’s Tassajara has combined ayurvedic, macrobiotic and Mediterranean influences with local Hamburg produce to create unique, lacto-vegetarian (you’ll find milk, but no eggs) seasonal dishes that mirror international cuisine. The menu isn’t flashy or alive with the latest nuts and bolts, but this restaurant is a stalwart of Germany’s vegetarian dining scene, having served its first plate in 1976.
Eppendorfer Landstraße 4, 20249 Hamburg
Right at the heart of Munich’s bustling, open-air Viktualienmarkt you’ll come across the little sibling to Vienna’s Michelin-starred Tian. Finding influence in Germany’s forests, fields and mountains means the restaurant puts adventurous ingredients such as thistle and sunflower on your plate. The concept started in Vienna seven years ago with head chef Paul Ivić’s vision of opening up a more diverse food offering through a purely vegetable-forward menu. Speaking about the merge with Munich, Ivić was excited to see his vision spread throughout southern Germany. “We are lucky to have someone like Christian Schagerl in the kitchen” Ivić said, “he works closely with our team in Vienna and brings his own culinary character to the company.”
Frauenstraße 4, 80469 Munich