After hearing about this food you are most likely worried about whether or not you can eat anything besides fried cheese or nuts and fruits. Cast all such thoughts from your mind because being a vegan or vegetarian in Iceland is easy peasy—actually having foregone meat for over twenty years myself, this is a statement I never expected to utter when I first started out here in Iceland. In the 90s, you were lucky to find Linda McCartney dinners and when you asked for a vegetarian dinner at restaurants, they would offer you a handful of lettuce and then give you a ladle of boiled potatoes. Luckily, times have changed considerably and now there is a consensus among a large segment of the population that has begun celebrating and promoting Veganuary, an animal product free month in January.
Burgers for everyone!
While the food culture has taken huge strides in past years, there is still not a dedicated vegetarian street food option like in London or Budapest but there are plenty of options for those of you who just want a quick eat or meal with not too much fuss. If that is the case, there are plenty of options. Prikið offers veggie burgers, as does the Block Burger, and Kaffihús Vesturbæjar has a vegan version. In addition, Iceland’s main burger establishment, Hamborgarafabrikkan, has now rolled out four different vegan options to some of their more popular burgers, so if you are with your non-vegetarian or -vegan friends, you can easily find something for yourself while accommodating to their “murderous” ploys. If you happen to be on your way to the domestic airport—or even if you are not, Bike Cave is also worth checking out since they have a few vegan options on the menu. With all of these fairly recent additions to the vegan and vegetarian burger scene, it is quite easy to find a burger joint for your fix.
If you are seeking out a vegan kitchen, well you are in luck. Vínyl, which is located on Hverfisgata, just below the main shopping street, Laugavegur, has a wide variety of vegan options for a hungry traveler including a variety of tasty cakes to wash down with damn good coffee. Unfortunately, no Twin Peaks cherry pie but let’s hope they add that to the menu.
For other options, Gló is the most popular place for locals who don’t eat meat—every day there is a vegetarian and vegan option available with generous helpings of three different salads of one’s own choice. Usually, it is very busy but it is always a great choice for a good meal. Located nearby, only 4 minutes away, is Garðurinn, a smaller establishment but very cozy, that offers only vegetarian or vegan options as opposed to Gló that offers chicken as well. If you want to try something else Bryggjan Brugghús has some interesting vegetarian and vegan options: a Portobello taco and club sandwich vegan rendition.
You might think that you can only eat decent vegetarian or vegan food in the capital but if you happen to be near Akureyri in northern Iceland, or driving through it—make sure to visit Silva, only a 15-minute drive from the Capital of the North. The food and relaxed atmosphere are well worth the trek; not only does Silva do vegetarian and vegan options but it also does raw dishes.
I would be an evil person if I did not also mention vegan-friendly places with amazing desserts. If you are in dire need of some ice cream—well, let’s just say you want to behave like a local and eat ice-cream in a blizzard—then I have soothing news. Both Joylato and Valdís offer vegan ice cream options. No matter which you go for you should not be disappointed. As for cake options, do not forget to visit 17 Sortir that always has a vegan option on the menu. So whether you are a vegan, a vegetarian or aspiring to go meat free, the options in Iceland are plenty and ever-increasing.