Are you tempted to try the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle? Although more and more grocery stores, restaurants and even traditional pastry shops are specialising in the vegan nutrition plan, there are not too many such alternatives if you get hungry between meals or just want something on the go. A new vegan fast-food restaurant proves that streetfood and meat-free healthy food can be the same.
The vegan lifestyle always presents some controversy: vegans in general say their diet plan is the answer to the question of environmental and animal protection, and they claim that a vegan diet is good for your health – even if studies have proven that keeping a purely vegan diet has potentially adverse consequences. Passionate meat eaters on the other hand simply can’t get used to the dreary sight of a pale tofu sausage and they fear the stale taste of soya schnitzels. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that.
Budapest’s first vegan streetfood
The city’s first vegan streetfood shop opened only very recently on District XI’s Bartók Béla út, near the Gellért hotel. Vegan Love, as the owners named it, invites its guests with meat-free burgers and hot dogs, and they make the mouth water.
The pleasantly decorated small restaurant invites you in to relax with comfortable seats and an unusual wall decoration made out of living plants. Vegan Love presents its offer on a fine menu on the counter, which currently consists of six different burgers and two different hot dogs.
All the dishes look very desirable on the perfectly lit photos of the menu card, and to our great surprise the products served on the decorative cardboard tablets leave nothing to desire either. It’s hard to believe that all the dishes, including the lightly melting cheese and the dab of sour cream on top, are made of 100 percent vegetable-based ingredients.
As opposed to vegetarians, vegans even denounce eggs, milk products and in general all ingredients of animal origin. This makes putting together a vegan burger recipe a real challenge. This is also the reason why Vegan Love also had to find vegan alternatives for the everyday ingredients.
Instead of sour cream made of milk they use sour cream made of soya, instead of cheese they add vegan cheddar made out of coconut oil and starch, and instead of a meat patty they add tofu, seitan or even vegetables, of course.
Despite denouncing two important food groups at the same time, the burger and hot dog variations in Vegan Love are quite diversified and they correspond to different tastes: there is for example the quinoa burger with shiitake mushrooms, the curry and lentil burger, or the vegan chili hot dog with a spicy hot soya ragout.
Thanks to its colourful appearance the sweet-potato burger looks especially tempting. This contains a patty made of sweet potatoes with thick zucchini slices, tomatoes and a beetroot and horseradish cream and radish sprouts. This dish is not only healthy and relatively low on calories but also surprisingly filling.
However, the culinary highlight of the menu is still the BBQ tofu steak burger. You can hardly recognise the bleak tofu, which you usually only see in the remote specialty shelves of the supermarkets. After being marinated in BBQ sauce for hours and in addition smoked, it gets a reddish-brown colour that does remind of a lightly roasted pork steak. The tofu steak rests on a bed of baby spinaches, covered with tomatoes, vegan cheese and a good portion of fried onions in a bun prepared with spelt and pumpkin seeds.
If you are a regular meat-eater and you want to try their dishes, you have to be a bit open to experiencing new tastes. Some ingredients, such as the vegan soya sour cream, can take a little getting used to, and you should be aware that tofu or seitan – it does not matter how well seasoned and formed they are – will never taste like meat.
However, this does not mean that they are not enjoyable, especially when so attractively arranged as the burgers here. Especially for newcomers to vegan cuisine, the BBQ tofu steak burger is an excellent choice.
9 Bartók Béla út, District XI
Open Mondays to Saturdays 11am-8pm, Sundays noon-8pm
Reservations at (+36) 30 597-5949
Burgers, hot dogs: HUF 1490-1590
Other dishes, salads: HUF 390-1490
Drinks: HUF 590-990