The bicycle-friendly oasis of Amsterdam has two distinct facets to its personality. On one side, Holland’s largest city is a verdant oasis that charms everyone due to its picturesque canals, world-class museums, and flower-bedecked streets. On the other, Amsterdam is a hedonist’s dream come true, where prostitution, soft-drug use, and public nudity is widely accepted. In her travel feature in the July+August issue of VegNews, writer Tamara Micner gives readers a glimpse of Amsterdam’s tame side, but I propose these seven sins every herbivore should commit when visiting this delightfully progressive metropolis. Do you dare?
1. Vegan scoops at Juice Brothers
A juice bar might seem an unlikely place to source the best vegan ice cream in the country, but at Juice Brothers, taking a shot of wheatgrass before diving into a double scoop of peppermint chip and black sesame ice cream is perfectly normal. Besides cold-pressed juices, Juice Brothers offers a dozen flavors of New York City cult favorite Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, and while varieties range from week to week, cross your fingers and hope the sunny yellow turmeric flavor is on the menu the day you visit. Dairy-free waffle cones, whipped cream, caramel, and hot fudge sauce are tempting extras worth considering.
2. Doughnuts at Vegabond
From gourmet sandwiches to luxe leather-free bags, boutique Vegabond has it all. Nestled in the historic, tree-lined district known as de Negen Straatjes (“the Nine Streets”), this sweet spot offers loads of ambiance and vegan goodies galore. First, fawn over the vegan cheese selection (including grate-able wedges of the Parmesan-like Prosociano by Violife and organic Veganella mozzarella by Soyana). Then, ogle the gorgeous cork wallets, hats, and bags before picking up a sugar-and-cinnamon dusted doughnut to relish on the go while exploring the charming ‘hood.
3. Decadent burgers at The Dutch Weed Burger Joint
Amsterdam might be known as the cannabis capital of Europe, but the “weed” offered at this spot is the humble variety harvested from the sea. The folks behind this fast-casual spot have been selling their seaweed-based burgers at music festivals for years, but The Dutch Weed Burger Joint finally has a permanent home base in a vine-covered brick building in Amsterdam’s up-and-coming Oud-West neighborhood. My advice: upgrade your burger with extra kimchi. I can vouch for the desserts, too—especially the lemony cheesecake with marzipan frosting. To. Die. For.
4. Shoes and chocolate at Vega-Life
If you didn’t have a footwear fetish before visiting Vega-Life, you’ll definitely have one by the time you leave this busy corner boutique in the heart of the postcard-perfect canal district. Expect a veritable buffet of leather-free shoes—including brands such as Novacas and Bourgeois Boheme—as well as animal-rights tees, cruelty-free belts, vitamins, cookbooks, and edible treats. And while shoe-shopping, make sure to sample the Vego milk-chocolate bars. Packed with hazelnuts, these crazy-good, super-creamy rice-milk chocolate bars are almost too good to be true.
5. Loaded Fries at Vegan Junk Food Bar
If they were made with animal products, the Loaded Fries at VJFB would probably kick-start cardiac arrest; think perfectly deep-fried spuds topped with cheese, shawarma-style meat, two different gooey sauces, sliced jalapeños, and a generous sprinkling of scallion confetti (it’s called “Junk Food Bar” for a reason). You can also indulge in burgers, onion rings, ice cream, and other decadent comestibles, and enjoy them at one of the outdoor tables or take your treats to go. Later this summer, Vegan Junk Food Bar will open a second location in the De Pijp neighborhood, giving visitors and locals another option to fulfill every greasy junk-food fantasy.
6. Sinful snacks at HEMA
Marzipan candy in the shape of a sausage? Check. Bags of sweet chili lentil chips? You betcha. Licorice, lollipops, and Speculoos cookies made without animal ingredients? Hell to the yes! At Holland’s beloved Target-meets-Woolworth’s chain store HEMA, you’ll find a little bit of everything, and then some. And with more than a dozen shops scattered throughout Amsterdam, getting your snack fix is always a snap.
7. Adult treats at Mumu to the Moon
There’s no shortage of amusements in trendy neighborhood De Pijp. The daily Albert Cuyp market is a big draw, as are dozens of bars, cafés, and boutiques that fill the lively streets around Sarphatipark. One special spot in the area is Mumu to the Moon, a welcoming vegan café/tarot studio where proprietors Laura and Murat make small-batch chocolates and bonbons, artisanal coffee drinks, and deluxe plant-based skincare potions made from cold-pressed oils. Try the creamy truffles (with or without a relaxing infusion of cannabis oil) and decadent cheesecakes, and wash them down with an oat milk latte. If the High Tea experience is available, indulge yourself!
Follow VegNews’ Travel Editor Aurelia d’Andrea’s Amsterdam adventures on Instagram.
Photo courtesy of Vegan Junk Food Bar