Discover Veggie Friendly Options in Copenhagen and Denmark
A visit to Denmark can be challenging for a vegetarian. The standard Danish diet consists of a lot of meat and fish and many restaurants do not offer vegetarian alternatives on their menus. The Danes especially love their sausage and pølsevogns (sausage stands) are a common sight in cities and towns where they conduct a brisk business with natives and tourists alike. In fact, the entire country often seems to be fragrant with the smell of pølse, the favourite snack of the Danes and a national institution.
Traditional Danish Cuisine
Denmark is a major exporter of pork and their diet reflects this. Traditional Danish cuisine is heavy on meat and potatoes, with the most popular meat being pork, although beef and poultry are common as well. In addition to these staples, the Danes also consume a good deal of fish in their daily diets, especially pickled herring, or sild. The traditional Danish lunch, smørebrød – or buttered bread – is anything but plain bread and butter. These popular open faced sandwiches are generally piled high with cold cuts, fish or leverpostej (liver pate), or a combination thereof. One common variety of smørebrød, dyrlægens natmad, or the veterinarian’s midnight snack, piles a piece of meat and a slice of corned beef on top of liver pate, truly a carnivore’s delight.
The evening meal in Denmark is also heavily dependent on meat dishes, with roasted pork, goose and sautéed beef being popular choices for the main course. Frikadeller, or Danish meatballs, are the Danish national dish. Even popular potato and vegetable dishes are often loaded with bacon or bits of skinke (ham).
Options for Vegetarians Visiting Denmark
Although it may seem that every dish is infiltrated with some type of meat or fish, a vegetarian visiting Denmark need not despair. There are vegetarian options available if you know where to look for them.
Breakfast is the easiest meal for a vegetarian in Denmark. Many Danish hotels serve a breakfast buffet and there are plenty of opportunities to have a delicious meal while avoiding meat. Along with cold cuts and other breakfast meats, these buffets typically offer a large variety of bread and cheese, as well as healthier options such as yoghurt, muesli, cereal and fruit. If your hotel does not serve breakfast, there are lots of bakeries around that sell bread and the famous Danish pastries, or weinerbrød, as the Danes call them. Danish brown bread is a healthy option, and has a good heavy texture and flavor. Danish cheeses are also delicious and some can be quite strong.
For the midday and evening meals, it is probably best to avoid traditional Danish cuisine altogether (even most traditional salads usually contain meat or fish) and opt for something a bit more exotic. Turkish shawarma and kebab houses are plentiful and extremely popular among the Danes for a quick and inexpensive meal. While it may seem strange to advise a vegetarian to eat at a kebab shop, these restaurants generally serve a variety of vegetarian options. Hummus, tzatziki and tabbouleh are usually available and are freshly prepared. Falafel kebabs and sandwiches are menu standards and, along with a side of hummus or french fries, provide a tasty and satisfying vegetarian meal. Pizza houses are also a good option for a vegetarian.
If you are going out for dinner, there are choices available if you look beyond traditional Danish restaurants. In Copenhagen, in particular, it is not too difficult to find a restaurant that caters to vegetarians. The restaurant Riz Raz, for example, serves an all vegetarian lunch and dinner buffet for a reasonable price by Danish standards. Riz Raz has two locations in Copenhagen and also serves a la carte meals (including meat dishes) along with the buffet, which offers a large variety of tempting dishes for the vegetarian and omnivore alike. Ankara, a Turkish restaurant also located in Copenhagen, serves a delicious buffet including many vegetarian dishes.
In recent times, Danes have been expanding their traditional cuisine and embracing Asian and other foreign food, which is good news for vegetarians. Thai restaurants, in particular, are currently all the rage in Denmark and most of them serve vegetarian dishes. Indian restaurants are also finding popularity in Denmark and these too, usually offer at least one vegetarian choice on the menu. Other popular restaurants include Italian, French and Greek restaurants, although you should check the menu beforehand to see if they are veggie-friendly.
While it can be difficult, a vegetarian visiting Denmark need not starve. In fact, with a little knowledge and a sense of adventure, you can enjoy some delicious and interesting meals during your visit.