It was a whole lot easier to find healthy food-on-the-go in Holland than in Belgium. Goodness I couldn’t live in Belgium if the absence of whole foods in restaurants and eateries is any measure of what they eat on a daily basis!
In fact if I see another cone of french fries within 5-feet of me I’ll be running in the opposite direction. (As an aside, I was interested to learn about an ongoing, highly contentious dispute between the French and Belgians about where they were invented, with both countries claiming ownership.)
We found soya milk was more infrequently offered in Belgium too. In fact, even Exki, a ‘healthy’ take-out and sit down eatery, doesn’t offer plant-based milks. While passing through Antwerp, I ran in to buy a quick sandwich for hubby, found only a vegetarian option, which was apparently dry and less than tasty.
We hit a couple of great high notes in Bruges though. For starters our hotel, The Duke’s Palace, was truly exceptional! Great position, super gardens and a gorgeous patio out back provided a quite retreat after being among the bustling crowds a stone’s throw away.
Only topping that for our daughters’ was the fact that a couple of steps away we found what they deemed “the best sorbet parlour ever!” Gelateria Da Vinci had, I have to admit, the most authentic (read not synthetic tasting) sorbet. The pure chocolate being my favourite!
On the occasions I did forgo this delight, I took myself off to a sweet little coffee shop, owner-run (love that!), called Michello’s Coffee. Yes, they apparently always have soya available.
Italian food is often a great fall-back for us vegans who are sometimes hard pressed for good food abroad, yet it seemed egg made it into most of their pasta. We would have struggled for lunch venues had it not been for Salade Folle. Not vegan nor vegetarian, yet they offered egg-free pasta topped with tasty roast vegetables or a deeply satisfying pomodoro sauce.
For dessert do visit Pur Chocolat, just around the corner from Salade Folle. While this store is one of many chocolate shops, I found their designs and service of high quality, as is great Belgium chocolate.
A quick look at online restaurant directory, happy cow, seemed to confirm what we’d surmised; Ghent is Belgium’s hub for vegan eateries. We stopped there briefly, popping into Lekker GEC for a quick takeaway of pasta, milkshakes, coffee and sweet treats (why more pasta? We had just missed their lunch plate-by-weight options).
Although Brussels didn’t capture our imaginations, over our two-day visit, we did enjoy what’s rumoured to be Brussel’s best Thai cuisine at Narai Thai. The waiter was quick to confirm that all oyster and fish sauces would be left off our plant-based dishes. The food, gloriously divine!
Also well within walking distance from our hotel, Steigenberger Grandhotel, we enjoyed a variety of small dishes at Al Bacha, a Lebanese restaurant offering all the tasty vegan choices one expects from this middle eastern cuisine.