All-you-can-eat vegan buffets are about as seldom as the Holy Grail in carnivorous Belgium, so when one as steadily delicious as Komkommertijd appears, word gets around. Veggie-loving Gentenaars know a treasure when they see it, and the democratically priced Komkommertijd (a nifty play on the word cucumber and the Dutch word for silly season) has been embraced as a warm vegan Valhalla. Their takeaway option has been a godsend to Ghent‘s many health-conscious foodies.
Another one of Ghent’s vegetarian temples of worship, Avalon’s name sparks a mythical note. The lunch restaurant next to the city’s 12th-century Castle of the Counts has gladly stuck to the medieval atmosphere by baptizing itself after an island out of the King Arthur legends. Luckily, prices for their colorful daily platters aren’t quite as legendary, and for about 15 euros, you’ll emerge with a belly full of fresh veggies.
Big Belgian cities have very much been into quality burger joints as of late, but as a vegetarian option, the same old Portobello mushroom alternative, however delicious, can get pretty repetitive. Enter Tasty World, the Ghentian burger house serving 15 different veggie burgers for €6.50 a pop. Follow up your original chili burger or hazelnut burger with one of their to-go smoothies for an extra health kick.
A sustainable beauty corner, organic food shop, trendy café, and all-around veggie refuge, CHYL is a fairly new and very welcome addition to the capital’s foodie scene. Located in a renovated old townhouse off the capital’s posh Avenue Louise, its fishbone parquet and high ceilings scream class while lots of hanging plants and throw pillows keep the atmosphere laid-back. The café on the first floor, serving mezze and other original vegetarian dishes, encourages work folk to take their time for a healthy brunch or lunch.
It has taken a while, but Belgium has recently jumped aboard the raw food train. Amongst the pioneers leading the charge is Moonfood Café, a gorgeous wood and concrete space in Brussels where Thierry Aerts serves up living vegan food with the guidance of Annie Jubb, a pioneer of bio-based nutrition. To keep all of the ingredients’ nutritional value, nothing at Moonfood is cooked over 46 degrees Celsius (114.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Even the water is filtered nine times through a reverse osmosis system to get rid of chemicals.
The pictures on Lombardia’s walls bear witness to the star-favorite status that the vegetarian eatery has garnered over the years. Owner and ex-pro surfer Alain Indria, a character as colorful as his splashy café, has welcomed many a national and international A-lister to his establishment. They came for the GingerLove – a homemade beverage made famous by Sting and The Wall Street Journal – and stayed for the yummy vegetarian dishes. If ginger isn’t your thing, try Indria’s vegan cappuccino and GreenLove – two more tasty originals.
De Broers van Julienne
“Love people, cook them great food” is the credo that De Broers of Julienne (“The Brothers of Julienne”) have lived by since 1993, and boy, do they deliver. Quiches and sweet cakes are the Antwerp institution’s sumptuous bread and butter, but the brothers also make a mean fish casserole. Their little sister Juliette – found in neighborhood Het Zuid – is now six and is a great spot for take-out dishes and a quick bite.
Veggie-focused restaurants remain grossly under-represented in the Michelin and Gault-Millau guides of today, but paving the way in Marchin is the bold Arabelle Meirlaen. Inspired by her very own Garden of Eden, the Michelin-starred chef reaches into her vegetable and herb patch to transform its riches into dishes bursting with flavor and edible flowers. Haute cuisine doesn’t come much fresher than this.