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 Post subject: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:18 pm 
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My husband and I are moving to Utrecht this summer (from Canada) and I was hoping for some advice on vegan-friendly places to eat, products to look out for, etc. Any help is much appreciated!


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:57 am 
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I'm not sure where in Canada you're from, but I did pretty much exactly that about a year ago :) from Vancouver, now in Amsterdam

there are a lot of random smatterings of vegan places around (hit happycow or yelp), but I've found it generally kind of difficult to find nice and convenient places to eat. you end up at the same places fairly often, not because they're great, but because you don't have much other choice. though, most non-veg places will speak English a-okay, so explaining veganism is easy enough. but even just small things..like virtually nowhere has soy milk, makes finding somewhere to grab a coffee more of a challenge..

and I hope you have a sweet tooth ;) because speculoos+hagelslag on bread will soon be your staple diet

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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:40 am 
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Heh. Welcome to the Netherlands, where veganism is stuck in the 70s, at best. Josh pretty much said it all, but here's some additions for Utrecht. I live there too, so feel free to ask and/or PM any specific questions. More than happy to answer them. :)

Here's some Utrecht specifics:

- The only fully vegan restaurant here is in one of the legalised squats and the food is pretty nice. I actually go here voluntarily and have eaten really nice tofu/nori-fishsticks in the past. :)

- There are two vegetarian restaurants that serve vegan stuff but I don't go there. They are so cliché 70s oldfashioned vegetarian that it makes my brain hurt. I do not eat out to "feast" on healthy grains with a sauce that looks like diarrhea. bisque, please.

- There are some other places that serve vegan(ised) things, like Thai/Vietnamese/Indian/Surinam restaurants and other 'ethnic' places. Do double check before you order, obviously, but in general you'll be fine. Oh and we have an Ethiopian restaurant which is supposed to be real good, but I haven't eaten there before.

- 'Dutch' restaurant tend to keep a French/Italian kitchen and usually have one or two vegetarian dishes (99 % of the time quiche and/or lasagna and 100 % of the time they include dairy). Do call ahead, I'd say. And even then they'll have trouble whipping you up something nice, because vegan food in their mind is the above mentioned 70s grains with diarrhea.

- There are a bunch of health food stores. The biggest 'supermarket' type ones are on the Twijnstraat and the Nachtegaalstraat, but they're all around.

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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:56 am 
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muffinpants wrote:
My husband and I are moving to Utrecht this summer (from Canada) and I was hoping for some advice on vegan-friendly places to eat, products to look out for, etc. Any help is much appreciated!


When are you moving?

Another thing that could be handy to have as foreigner in the Netherlands is a "E-number card".
That is a creditcard size (paper) card that lists which food additives are or can be of animal origin.
(Additives or ingredients are often on the label with their E-number and not their name)


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:55 am 
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Expect to order a lot of staples online.
Supermarkets hardly stock any vegan meatsubs, let alone cheeses etc. and the availability in health food stores is also limited. On the upside: Alpro soy yoghurts, milks and deserts are widely available and delicious.
Check out Veggiedeli, THE Dutch vegan webshop.
Vega-life (webshop and physical shop in Amsterdam) stocks vegan shoes, nutritional supplements and some other useful items.

A few words that you won't find in the dictionary:
Nutritional yeast flakes = Edelgist vlokken
TVP = Sojabrokjes
Vital wheat gluten = tarwegluten/ glutenpoeder
(you can order gluten from Veggiedeli and (a lot cheaper) from online miller shops like this one, look near the bottom of the page)

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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:13 am 
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Hey, where does one get one of those e-number cards, Veg_Eric? I've got an e-number app in my phone which is kind of handy, but it would be easier to just whip out a card than have to stand in the grocery aisle playing with my phone.

Anyway, I echo what everyone else has said. The Netherlands is not the best place for going out to eat as a vegan. But most ingredients that you'd need to get a good vegan pantry going are available here (if sometimes more expensive than in N. America) so you shouldn't have problems transitioning in the kitchen. And please don't be shy about asking what certain ingredients are called in Dutch. For a long time, I just assumed certain things weren't available here, until someone clued me in to the Dutch name and how it's packaged and then suddenly I realized it had been there all along. (For example, nutritional yeast is "edelgist" in Dutch and comes in cardboard canisters rather than bags here. It can be found near the supplements in most health food stores.) The Dutch PPKers are awesome for helping you find stuff.

As for going out, I understand there's a completely vegetarian Chinese restaurant in Utrecht. I haven't been there yet (meetup idea?) but I've heard it's pretty good: http://www.soy-utrecht.nl/ The Coffee Company, Bagels & Beans, and Starbucks are places where you can reliably get soy milk for your coffee. And Wagamama (is there one in Utrecht yet?) is not vegan or even vegetarian, but they do have a number of vegan dishes (including one vegan dessert) and they're really transparent about their ingredients and don't mind subbing at all!

Oop, just saw what Cornelie posted, and would like to add that if you ever make it to Amsterdam (only 20 minutes by train), try to drop by the BioMarkt on the Weterinschans. They have truly one of the best selections of vegan products in Amsterdam - better than the health food chain Eko Plaza - and I've found a lot of stuff there that I'd normally only seen online.

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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:17 am 
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lepelaar wrote:
Hey, where does one get one of those e-number cards, Veg_Eric?


I have one that dates back from a few years ago when the dutch vegan society used to sell them.
They no longer seem to have them and I've seen such cards made by respect voor dieren but I don't see them mentioned on their website. Not sure if they don't sell online or that they don't sell them anymore.

Printed in bold = absolutely animal origin others possible animal origin.
Image
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lepelaar wrote:
The Netherlands is not the best place for going out to eat as a vegan.

I agree, and it's why I don't go out to eat often. I can go out and get vegan food, but then I find myself thinking "I can do better than this for less money at home"

Perhaps with the exception of Amsterdam where there are a couple of places that can serve good vegan food. That's why I sometimes drive an hour to have a decent vegan dinner with other vegetarians/vegans.

lepelaar wrote:
The Dutch PPKers are awesome for helping you find stuff.


We are.

Also, I live not too far from Utrecht and am willing to come to Utrecht on a Saturday to go shopping with you, like showing/explaining supermarket stuff and so on.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:57 am 
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Thank you so much for all the help! I haven't really traveled or anything since becoming vegan, so I've been a bit nervous about having to really think about what I'm buying again, especially when I can't read the packaging! Oh well, part of the adventure I guess.

We will be moving there at the end of August and it's good to know that I won't have to pack a separate suitcase full of nutritional yeast like I had been threatening to! The lack of restaurants isn't a huge deal since we don't usually eat out very often anyway, so it sounds like there will be enough to keep us happy. Eric, the card you posted is extremely helpful! I figured it would be easy enough to learn the Dutch words for milk, etc, so I could make sure to avoid the major things but I was really worried about figuring out all of the additives.

Joshua: we're from Victoria!


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 3:56 pm 
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Here's a list with a lot of accidentally and purposely vegan items to be found in supermarkets and health food stores. I think you'll be able to read it with the help of google translate. It'll make it a little easier to find vegan cookies, burgers, shampoo etc.

If you need specific info/help to find stuff, don't hesitate to post here or send a pm.

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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:39 am 
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Hooray! more PPKers in NL. Thanks for the e-numbers card, veg_eric, & the link to the wiki, Cornelie.

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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 9:56 am 
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Paloma wrote:
Heh. Welcome to the Netherlands, where veganism is stuck in the 70s, at best. Josh pretty much said it all, but here's some additions for Utrecht. I live there too, so feel free to ask and/or PM any specific questions. More than happy to answer them. :)

I live in Utrecht as well! Maybe we could arrange a meet-up after muffinpants' move?

Paloma wrote:
Here's some Utrecht specifics: <snipsnap>

- There are two vegetarian restaurants that serve vegan stuff but I don't go there. They are so cliché 70s oldfashioned vegetarian that it makes my brain hurt. I do not eat out to "feast" on healthy grains with a sauce that looks like diarrhea. bisque, please.

I'm trying to think which is the 2nd 'bad' restaurant..? Can only think of De werfkring.

I've had good experience with De Zakkendrager ("French"-international cuisine) in Utrecht city centre and Ana's Kuzin (Turkish) at the Voorstraat. Then there's Soy, an all-vegetarian Chinese takeaway in the east part of the city. Some dishes contain egg but those are highlighted and can often be made without.

We should do a tour once you're here! ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 2:12 pm 
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Gnoe wrote:
I'm trying to think which is the 2nd 'bad' restaurant..? Can only think of De werfkring.


We should do a tour once you're here! ;)


Werfkring was also one I had in mind.

We really should do a Utrecht meetup one day.

Gnoe: as I didn't knew you're dutch; did you see there is a Dutch meetup in Amsterdam on the 6th of june?


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 4:51 pm 
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There is/used to be a vegetarian restaurant in either the Zakkendragersteeg or the Drieharingensteeg, which didn't impress me much in the past. Have avoided it ever since.

Anyway, I can absolutely second that Ana's Kusin has really nice food. I used to work around there (before I was vegan though) and we'd eat from there when we worked the late shift. :) Also in the Voorstraat is the Vietnamese restaurant Saigon. They have a really extensive selection of vegetarian dishes, and I'm pretty sure that the (large) majority of those is vegan too. (Haven't been there as a vegan yet.) And the Village, a hipster coffee joint on the same street, always has soy milk in stock.

Also, Happies & Sappies, in a little street just off the big shopping street Steenweg, next to the big H&M, does vegan (and non-vegan) sandwiches/buns, tons of really nice fresh pressed juices and even does a vegan hot dog. :)

Or, if you'd want more of a cosy place where you'd take your mum or go for lunch with your lover, I'd recommend KEEK on the Twijnstraat. They are not specifically vegan place, but they can accommodate vegans fairly easy. Their soups are vegan most of the time and they're always willing to switch things around a bit and assemble a vegan lunch for you. Unfortunately none of their cakes/pies are vegan (I hope they see the light someday), but they do have soy milk and everything they sell is organic. (Maybe even fair trade too, but I'm not sure about that). This is just a really sweet cosy place, just a couple doors down from Utrechts biggest health food store.

Oh and do not miss out on the gigantic Chinese supermarket called Amazing Oriental on the Amsterdamsestraatweg - coming from the city centre, they're on the right side of the road between the overpass and the water tower.

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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 11:05 pm 
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Thanks again everyone! We are so excited about the move and can't wait to get there. Once I get through all the residency permit stuff I'll be even more excited!


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 9:48 am 
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Veg_Eric wrote:
Gnoe: as I didn't knew you're dutch; did you see there is a Dutch meetup in Amsterdam on the 6th of june?

No, I didn't - thought it was upcoming Saturday?! I'll probably go to my aunts b-day party on June 6th but if she decides to celebrate it on another day I may join you.

Paloma wrote:
There is/used to be a vegetarian restaurant in either the Zakkendragersteeg or the Drieharingensteeg, which didn't impress me much in the past. Have avoided it ever since.

You don't mean Milky, do you? That's been gone for.. 12 years?? O_o

Paloma wrote:
Anyway, I can absolutely second that Ana's Kusin has really nice food. I used to work around there (before I was vegan though) and we'd eat from there when we worked the late shift. :)
Ana would love to go totally vegetarian and more vegan but her shop can't survive that way. There are usually several dishes that are vegan and if you call in advance (she says) she could make you something extra. Yay!

Paloma wrote:
And the Village, a hipster coffee joint on the same street, always has soy milk in stock.
Walked in once.. and out again because the music was SO LOUD!!! I'm not going to have coffee by myself and would love to hear what my fellow visitor is saying. :\ Or isn't it always like that?

Paloma wrote:
Or, if you'd want more of a cosy place where you'd take your mum or go for lunch with your lover, I'd recommend KEEK on the Twijnstraat.
Yup, totally agree!

And please vote for one of the vegan submissions of the Hema sandwich contest (you can cast one vote each day)!!! I'd really like them to sell this sub with grilled eggplant and tomato salad: http://broodje.hema.nl/#/galerij/broodje/27257.

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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 10:11 am 
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shiitake! You need adobe flash to access the Hema page and I don't have a computer with adobe flash while I'm on vacation. I'll have to wait to get home to vote. I would soooooooooooooo love to have a vegan option at the Hema! That would give me one more lunch option near my work besides friet and expensive veggie sushi.

Gnoe, I didn't realize Soy was only take away. A friend of mine in Utrecht has mentioned it a few times and I've been thinking of hopping the train just to try it. Do they have any seating?

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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 1:21 am 
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A little late to the party, but hey! Welcome! I work in Utrecht. Let's hang out some time!


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 1:21 am 
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lepelaar wrote:
shiitake! You need adobe flash to access the Hema page and I don't have a computer with adobe flash while I'm on vacation. I'll have to wait to get home to vote. I would soooooooooooooo love to have a vegan option at the Hema! That would give me one more lunch option near my work besides friet and expensive veggie sushi.

Gnoe, I didn't realize Soy was only take away. A friend of mine in Utrecht has mentioned it a few times and I've been thinking of hopping the train just to try it. Do they have any seating?


Soy has a few tables, but the atmosphere is... bleak. The food is delicious though!


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 8:46 am 
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Soy feels more like a cafeteria, or like a German Imbiß.

Also, when I was there with a friend, we were the only people eating in, which felt a bit funny. But, most importantly, the food was really nice. :) I was really happy to have Chinese food that I could eat.

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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 9:17 am 
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Hmmm... Maybe it would be fun to go there as a group sometime and do takeout to a park and have a picnic!

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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 10:47 am 
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YES. LET'S HAVE A MEETUP SOON!


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 5:08 pm 
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Oh, I think I ate at Soy once too! I agree the atmosphere wasn't amazing, but the food was really good. Pretty similar to de Oude Plek in Rotterdam, which is one of my favourites.

I don't really have any Utrecht-specific restaurant recommendations, but I do like all the Turkish/Persian grocery stores there which seem to be great for cheap (and yummy) vegetables, nuts, olives etc. I'd definitely shop there more often if I lived in Utrecht.

And don't worry, the labels on most products list the ingredients in English too! But that e-number card is definitely useful. I wish the NVV still sold them (I could use a new one too).


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 1:00 am 
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Nooo the atmosphere at De Oude Plek is 10000x better! But filled with PPK folk we could make Soy a fun place!


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 5:27 am 
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Hey! I moved to the Netherlands from the U.S. a few years ago. It was a big challenge learning my way around the supermarkets and the language as a vegan, but the Dutch PPKers are super-dee-duper awesome and you're lucky that when you're in a bind most people speak at least a little English if not a ton. The best part is people apologize and say they only speak a little English only to then surprise you with grammatically perfect English.

I've been to Utrecht once and had dinner at a great Ethiopian place called Sunshine. I've been wanting to try Soy as well. I live in Breda and I can promise you that you're in a much better place vegan-wise than if you were moving here. ;) We have an Amazing Oriental store here and I shop there often. I also hit up the Turkish markets for cheap beans, pastas and raw cashews. The Netherlands is also great about weekly, open-air markets with produce that is often much cheaper than what you'll find in the stores. And there are health food shops (natuurwinkels, Eko Plaza, etc.) for when you need something really specific.

For me I had to get used to the idea of shopping around at multiple places for what I needed rather than being able to go to one or two shops. I get flour from a local windmill (super charming), lots of Asian and Indian ingredients from Amazing Oriental, beans and grains from the Turkish market, produce from an open-air market, and everything else from the "regular" grocery store. While it seems like a big pain in the asparagus, it was actually pretty cool to spend some time walking around in shops and checking things out. You don't need to speak the language to do this and you get familiar with how things are laid out, can take time to read labels and understand stuff, etc.

I went through the residency permit process. If you have any questions I'll be happy to answer them. Are you moving here for your work or your husband's work? I moved here for my partner, but then found work with a school (I'm a teacher).


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the Netherlands
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 10:31 pm 
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I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of a PPK park picnic! Let's do it!

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