Eating Light: A Plant Based Diet for Spring

Springtime – between March and May – is the traditional season of fastening (think Lent and Ramadan), eating lighter meals, and slimming down. On the menu are more salads, more vegetables, fewer meat dishes and fewer heavy sauces. An increasing number of people add plant based foods to their diets, especially in meat-heavy regions such as Germany, Central Europe and North America. A cleansing diet around the spring equinox clears out winter’s remains and tune the our bodies for spring.

 

Germany’s Favorite Plant Based (Vegan) Meals

Seitan Döner KebabSome traditional German dishes are vegetarian or vegan by nature — think sauerkraut, spaetzle with cheese, or potato salad with lentils. Some traditional recipes can be adapted or ‘veganized’, giving rise to dishes like Vegan Döner Kebab, Portobello Schnitzel, and Mushroom Leek Strudel. And, inventive treatments of traditional German ingredients and flavors are giving rise to light, vegan, and even gluten-free dishes like Sauerkraut Potato Pizza on a Cauliflower Crust. See more recipes here.

Whole Grain Breads, Savory Spreads and Sweet Indulgences

Germany’s food manufacturers are increasingly offering products free from meat, milk, or egg ingredients. Among these offerings are the renowned pumpernickel and whole grain breads, rich in fiber and nutrients, providing satiety for hours. Similarly, breakfast muesli, abundant in nuts, whole grains, and dried fruits, offers a fulfilling morning meal. Delicately crafted savory spreads, rivaling the taste of liverwurst or teawurst, grace charcuterie boards alongside their meat-based counterparts. Furthermore, vegan alternatives such as marzipan, chocolate, and gummies provide a plant-based sweet indulgence in the afternoon or as dessert.

Bärlauch (Wild Garlic), Spargel (Asparagus) Kohlrabi, and Sauerampfer (Sorrel)

In late March, seasonal “greens” replace meat on the menu in many kitchens and restaurants across Germany. For example ramps, also known as bear’s garlic or wild garlic (see wild garlic recipes). Or tender, easily digestible and nutrient fiber rich asparagus, kohlrabi and sorrel. These typical spring veggies are popular not just among vegan and vegetarians, but also among those who want to eat more sustainably, or simply look better in bathing suits.

Eating Vegan Fare at the Vegan FairVegan and Vegetarian Trends

An increasing number of people add plant based foods to their diets, especially in meat-heavy regions such as Germany, Central Europe and North America. Vegetarian and vegan eating is on the rise in both countries. Fully 15 percent of Germans identified themselves as vegetarians and 7 percent as vegans. In the U.S., the trends are similar. Nearly a third of the population in both countries claims to eat less meat and seek plant-based meat alternatives, even if they don’t identity as vegetarian or vegan.

Vegan Eating By definition, vegans eat an entirely plant-based diet, consuming no animal products in any form. Vegetarians don’t eat meat, and to varying degrees, other animal products like eggs and cheese as well. ‘Flexitarians’ or ‘casual vegetarians’ find a happy compromise in eating mostly plant-based foods but allowing for the occasional meal containing animal proteins (meat, fish, fowl, dairy, eggs). The flexitarian dietary regime delivers most of the benefits to health of humans and the planet (without the full commitment of a vegetarian/vegan diet).

Berlin’s Vegan Revolution

If you happen to be a hungry vegan/vegetarian walking through the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood of Berlin, you’ll be a happy camper. Vegan-only snack bars and restaurants present themselves everywhere you go. The meals at these places are first-rate, affordable and absolutely palatable for carnivores. You’ll see a “Veganz” stores, Europe’s first vegan grocery chain which opened in Berlin in 2011. Vegan döner stands line the streets. Organic/Natural supermarkets, like Bio Company, offers with a wide variety of vegan ingredients, frozen meals and refrigerated fare. What started in Berlin a decade ago is now spreading across many German cities. German food festivals devoted to plant-based cuisine, such as the Vegan Street Day in Stuttgart and Dortmund. Even Christkindlmarkets are going vegan, or at least offer vegan options. In fact, Germany and the US are leading the world in the creation of vegan food products (close to 18 percent), a trend that is obvious when you attend major industry trade fairs, such as the ANUGA Specialty Food Fair or BIOFACH Organic and Natural Food Fair.

Germany’s green traditions

The industrial powerhouse Germany has a rich history of being a green-minded nation with a bend for herbal remedies and alternative health care. During the 19th century, amid concerns about the pollution, food purity, animal welfare, and naturalness. The Reformhaus movement, bio-dynamic (organic ) movement, homeopathy, and herbal remedies and Pilates all originated in Germany during this period. Even though Germans are known the world over for being meat-lovers, meat consumption is declining steadily.