REFERRED TO AS “VEGAN PARADISE” IN A RECENT GUIDED TOUR, Berlin is the undisputed heart of Germany’s nearly one million-strong vegan population. Reasons to love Berlin are countless. A diverse range of fabulous vegan food abounds in the capital: innovative restaurants, cafés and snack bars that cater to every taste, from fast food to haute vegetable cuisine. There are a multitude of places to shop for vegan food: not only are there small vegan grocery stores, but also two vegan supermarkets. There is a thriving vegan fashion scene; tons of option to get beautified, vegan-style; and of course, an active animal rights community. Here are some of my absolute faves and hidden gems:
Berlin has something known as “the vegan avenue” in the neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg!
 The best place for compassionate and chic fashion shopping is Dear Goods. You will find clothing for girls and boys as well as a small selection of jewelry, bags, wallets, and home accessories. But the store is not only animal friendly; eco- and human-friendliness is also crucial for the owner Nicole Noli. Dear Goods is located in Schivelbeiner Straße 35, 10439 Berlin
 To complete your vegan outfit, go next door to Avesu. There, you’ll find elegant and chic footwear from Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather, sneakers from Veja or Ethletics, non-leather Doc Martens, and hiking boots from Vegetarian Shoes. They carry tons of styles for women, men, and children. Avesu is located in Schivelbeiner Straße 35, 10439 Berlin
The vegan and eco conscious brand Jonny’s Vegan (pictured) launched recently. The first collection soon became a favorite of veganistas and shoe lovers alike. Manufactured with fair labour in Spain. (Available at Avesu.)
 Founded by twin sisters Anja and Sandra Umann, Umasan is the world’s first vegan high fashion brand based in Berlin. They only use the finest eco-innovative materials such as Seacell, Soyfiber, Bamboo, Protein Fiber, Energear, Smartcel and Tencel. As for the designs: timeless, avant-garde and incredibly chic and comfortable. The Umasan flagship store is located in Linienstrasse 40, 10119 Berlin
 Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather. This innovative vegan brand has built a cult following not only in Germany, but has crossed over internationally. Large selection available at Avesu.
BONUS! Also part of “vegan avenue” is the vegan supermarket Veganz. It’s right next to Avesu and Dear Goods. Your can find everything there, from fruits and veggies, to raw foods, a huge freezer filled with vegan ice cream, pizza, every vegan meat imaginable, as well as a great selection of cheese, plant-based milk drinks, candy bars, cookies, and chocolate. Basically everything that makes you feel as if you’re in vegan food heaven. The bistro Goodies is located in the entrance area of Veganz, serving bagels, salads as well as smoothies, coffee and raw cake. Veganz is located in Schivelbeiner Str. 34, 10439 Berlin. Recently a second location opened in Friedrichshain in Warschauer Strasse 33, 10243 Berlin.
 My favorite place for a lazy afternoon with coffee and cake: The prettiest location in town is Café Vux, where the yummiest bagels, the most delicious cakes and the best coffee are served. Located in the popular district Neukoelln and right across the street from the vegetarian & vegan Italian restaurant Ponte Verde for a seamless transition from late afternoon coffee to the dinner table. Sunday is brunch day at Café Vux. Café Vux is located in Wipperstrasse 14, 12055 Berlin
 The best vegan food in Berlin: The vegetarian restaurant Cookies Cream is a hidden gem in Berlin-Mitte. Once you have made your reservation (please note that you wish to eat vegan) and made your way through the delivery yard at the back of the Westin Grand hotel, you will enjoy a delicious three-course meal made from fresh regional and seasonal ingredients in a stylish but yet inviting location. Cookies Cream is located in Behrenstrasse 55, 10115 Berlin
 The absolutely divine Vanilla Chocolate Cupcake at Café Vux.
 A very particular Berlin speciality: Vöner serves the typical Berlin dish – a döner, a doner kebab – vegan style. Located in Friedrichshain, one of the districts where the vegan scene is really happening, Vöner has become an institution for greasy, savory and delicious fast food. Insider tip: order the “Wagenburger” and french fries with vegan cheese sauce. You’ll be saying, “Mega lecker!” (it means “extremely delicious” in German). Vöner is located in Boxhagener Straße 56, 10245 Berlin
These brands are not to be missed:
Over 30 years ago, Ingrid Stamm founded i+m Naturkosmetik: the Berlin-based natural cosmetics brand. At that time, she was a pioneer – and she still is. The brand is certified organic, 100% vegan, uses only cold pressed oils, no artificial ingredients or mineral oils, no preservatives, like parabens, does not test on animals, and supports fair trade projects. The product range includes skin, hair, and body care. The packaging is also environmentally friendly, following the cradle to cradle design. Reflecting the spirit of i+m’s hometown, the Berlin-line was created, which also comes in a very nice travelling package with shower gel, body cream, hair shampoo, and conditioner. This makes a great, eco friendly, and vegan souvenir for all loved ones at home, or a way to remember this trip when back home. The products are available at whole food stores, such as Bio Company, LPG Biomarkt, Basic, Alnatura or Bio Company.
Luckily, great cruelty free and vegan beauty products can be found all over town. Here are a few brands and where they can be found:
Drugstores: Terra Naturi (Mueller), Alverde (DM) and Alterra (Rossmann) – organic skin and haircare, vegan products are clearly labeled
Supermarkets: bulldog (Rewe) – organic and vegan skin care for men
Health food stores and organic supermarkets: benecos skin and hair care as well as make up (tip: great nail polish) is an organic brand with a great vegan selection.
One of the first German organic skin care brands was Dr. Hauschka, with many vegan products to choose from. (Tip: the Cleansing Milk is a staple in my bathroom.)
ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISM IN BERLIN
When it comes to meeting like-minded people and fellow animal rights activists, Berlin Vegan is the place to go. Twice a month this group of regulars meets in a vegan location to share news, tips and plan upcoming activities. New faces are more than welcome, and help for their various projects such as a website, a restaurant guide app, and an annual summer festival is always highly appreciated. This year the summer festival will take place August 31st, 2013 at Alexanderplatz. Yummy food, great people, informative speeches and cookery shows – be there, or be square.
About the author: Franziska Schmid is a vegan writer and blogger living in Berlin. When she became a vegan in 2008, she wanted to continue to visit nice restaurants and cafés, enjoy good food, cosmetics, and use red lipstick and wear cool shoes. She started her site Veggie Love to share her finds and inspire others.
LAIKA Magazine is available at Berlin’s do you read me?! bookstore! They currently stock the Premier Issue, with our Second Issue coming there soon!