I have recently returned from Poland, where I was staying for a few days to attend my cousin’s wedding. I had a wonderful time, and didn’t struggle too much to find vegan food! Poland is a very modern, advanced European country after all: although their traditional cuisine is very meat-heavy, like the rest of Europe, they have at least embraced the concept of vegetarianism, even if not veganism, which makes life a lot easier. After all, vegetarian meals are often plant-based, or can be made vegan quite easily (if the dairy products or eggs are not an intrinsic part of the dish, that is. For example, a vegetable risotto can be made vegan simply by asking to have it without cheese).
The wedding reception was held at a very large picturesque venue, the Lipowy Most Golf Park Hotel, in the north-east part of Poland, near the border with Belarus. The hotel was in an amazing spot in the middle of a forest, with lakes and a golf course in the grounds, so it had very spectacular views. I had asked in advance if I could have a vegan meal at the wedding reception, which consisted of around 5 courses. So I had tomato soup to start, then a large leafy green salad with sun-dried tomatoes and nuts, then a type of vegetable risotto after that. All very delicious and filling. I couldn’t eat any more than that, and went to bed before the party ended (around 6.a.m!) so I don’t know if subsequently any more courses were brought out for me. It was all washed down with copious amounts of wine and vodka, as you can imagine.
The next day, the reception continued with a barbeque in the extensive grounds of the hotel. Not great for vegans, you would think, and obviously it did mainly consist of huge amounts of meat being cooked over flames (and apparently, *shudder*, a whole pig carcass was brought out, so I was told. I managed to avoid seeing that though). But there were vegetable kebabs in a spicy, smoky dressing, which were amazing, and a smoked cabbage dish which was also wonderful, plus baked potatoes, a mixed green salad, and bread, so I had a good tasty plateful of food. I certainly didn’t go hungry.
The next day we all travelled back to Warsaw by long-distance bus. When we arrived, we checked into the Westin Hotel in Warsaw, which was a Five Star one, so a previously-unknown luxury for me. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant that night, as we were all too tired to go out anywhere, and the menu was very extensive and varied, with every type of dish imaginable. They had several vegetarian dishes, but only two vegan (one starter and one main course), so I had the salad for the starter (made with sauteed mushrooms and green salad leaves) and the main course was a dish of tofu, noodles and vegetables, which was thoroughly delicious. After leaving the hotel, I was sent a questionnaire by email by them, asking me to rate my experience (I gave them 10/10 for everything) and asking if there was anything I could suggest which would have made the stay better for me. So I mentioned that I am a vegan and asked if their hotels could provide more vegan meals on the restaurant menu, and soya or other plant milks for tea and coffee (i had taken some small cartons of long-life rice milk to Poland with me, in case I had trouble finding non-dairy milks). I feel it is important to always give feedback to these establishments, especially when they specifically ask for it, as a positive way of promoting veganism, besides making life easier for our demographic when we are travelling and eating out. The breakfast menu was very varied, so I was able to have hash browns, baked beans and mushrooms, besides fruit and toast, which was a nice change from just bread and fruit, which I had been eating for breakfast in the other hotels.
So, all in all, I didn’t struggle too much for vegan food, and generally had a thoroughly enjoyable time. I definitely recommend visiting Poland. My next planned trip is to New York City in autumn of this year ( my first visit there), and I gather I should not have a problem there - that NYC has a lot of vegan-friendly eateries.Can’t wait. Watch this space for a blog about my American adventures!
Picture of me with my mother taken at the barbeque in the hotel grounds.(© Maggie Bailey 2016.)