How to Eat Vegetarian in Poland

“A vegetarian travelling to Poland? You’ll struggle to find anything to eat there. They only eat meat, more meat and bread.”

When I told people at home that I’d be travelling in Poland, I got only negative replies about how I’d have nothing to eat. I’d probably starve if I didn’t eat meat, they said. It turns out that people are either misinformed or altogether uninformed about the Polish diet. It turns out that the Polish eat a lot of vegetables and being vegetarian in Poland isn’t so hard. They have salad with every meal and you rarely see a plate that doesn’t have shredded beetroot, cabbage and grated carrot heaped on the side. In fact, Poland has the highest rate of fruit and veg consumption in Europe. 

There are a few sure fire ways to eat good, nutritious veggie meals whilst travelling in Poland, and stick to a tight budget at the same time.

1Find a vegetarian host on Couchsurfing

This is my golden rule for how to find a good host. When you search the list of hosts in a specific town, filter them using the keyword “vegetarian” and you will be sure to find some amazing cooks, or at least someone to point you in the right direction. Our Polish host in Wroclaw was an incredible vegetarian cook who has been experimenting with making traditional Polish dishes vegetarian.

Vegetarian in Poland pierogi
Homemade pierogi stuffed with potatoes and cottage cheese, thanks to our first Polish host
Gołąbki Vegetarian in Poland
Vegetarian gołąbki, a cabbage leaf wrapped around rice and baked in a casserole dish. This is a creation which we only saw in our host’s kitchen. It was hot, thick, a little salty, and very delicious.

2Check Happy Cow for Veggie Places in the Area

Probably common sense to vegetarian travellers, but something I sometimes forget to do. Happy Cow is like an extremely small scale trip advisor that lists only vegetarian-friendly and vegan restaurants, cafes and stores. If you find yourself in a decent sized city, then definitely search Happy Cow because there is always something. In Krakow, Happy Cow led us to Glonojad, a veg cafe right around the corner from our hostel where you could eat good food for PLN 12-15 (£2.50-3) and drink good coffee too.

veg food poland Vegetarian in Poland
Chilli stew with buckwheat and cabbage salad from Glonojad, an independent vegetarian cafe in Krakow.

3Find a Vegetarian Chain Restaurant

Yes, believe it or not, Poland has vegetarian chain restaurants. These are a great way to find reliable, healthy veggie food fast and on-the-go. My favourite was definitely Green Way, a chain that serves up crazy big portions of stews, salads, buckwheat, pierogi and pancakes for around 10-15 PLN (£2-3). It may not be the best food in the world, but you can’t argue with the cheap prices, filling portion and nutritional value. Bio Way was another chain that we saw around a lot, but it definitely wasn’t such a good deal as Green Way.

green way gdansk Vegetarian in Poland
Stew with buckwheat and salad from Green Way in Gdansk. It might not look that appetizing, but you can’t argue with a pile of nutritious veggie food for only £2.

4Cook your own food

A lot of people aren’t fond of cooking their own food when travelling, but if you’re a budget, vegetarian in a new place, then this is a great way to eat local ingredients. You can get by in a basic hostel kitchen, and if you’re staying with a Couchsurfer then that’s even better. In Poland, bread, cheese and salad are staples, so there is plenty of choice in the local shops and markets.

market Wroclaw Vegetarian in Poland
Fresh fruit, veg, cheese and bread at the local market in Wroclaw.
Vegetarian in Poland salad
Potato, white cheese and white bean salad we made in a hostel kitchen in Krakow.

5When in doubt, look for pierogi ruskie

Pierogi (Polish dumplings) are found on the menu nearly everywhere in Poland. They come stuffed with a variety of fillings, including meat, potatoes, cheese and even blueberries. If you’re ever stuck for food, look for pierogi ruskie, a peirogi that’s filled with potato and cottage cheese. After a plate of pierogi you will be really full. In fact, Luke ate so many at the beginning of our travels that I thought he was going to turn into a pierogi.

pierogi Vegetarian in Poland
Luke about to tuck into a steaming pile of pierogi with fried onions at Milkbar Tomasza in Krakow.

So it transpires that a vegetarian traveller in Poland can most certainly find food wherever they are, even if it’s just bread and local cheese or the traditional side salads. Vegetarianism is a growing trend in Poland, shown by the dozens of vegetarians listed on Couchsurfing, and the vegetarian cafes popping up in all of Poland’s big cities. As in all major cities of the world, there is always an alternative crowd who only eat veggies, which means that a vegetarian traveller will never go hungry in a new place.

Bon appétit, vegetarians in Poland.

 

Charlie Marchant

Charlie is a long-term traveller from the UK who writes about simple ways to travel sustainably, including how to become a house sitter and slow traveller, eating local and vegetarian, and making responsible travel choices.

15 thoughts on “How to Eat Vegetarian in Poland

    1. Thanks, Jessica :) Glad to know I’ve introduced someone to Happy Cow.. I guess if you’re not vegetarian you probably wouldn’t know though. That salad was a throw together, fortunately it went well though!

  1. I’m so happy you made it to Poland!! Pierogi are my favourite, no joke! I like when they are stuffed with potatoes and cottage cheese or seasonal fruits! Heaven in my mouth, absolutely amazing. It’s very easy to eat vegetarian in Poland. You can get salads and fruits everywhere and many people eat plenty of veggie soups nowadays.

    1. Yes, had a fantastic time in Poland! It’s definitely one of my favourite European countries. I never got to try pierogi stuffed with fruit in the end, the ones with blueberries sound really delicious though. Yes, veggie eating was easy, I was pleasantly surprised :)

  2. Great post Charlie. I’m a travelling veggie too. I’ve had people tell me I’ll have nothing to eat so many times. But I’ve not starved yet! When we lived in Korea, I met a couple who had actually told their veggie friend not to take a job there because he’d have nothing to eat! I was not impressed with them! Sure, there wasn’t tons of variety for veggies, but there was definitely veggie food. Bi bim bap was easy to get without meat and it remains one of my favourite foods ever. Now we are in a Beijing and I am actually quite surprised at how many great vegetarian restaurants there are here. Now our mandarin is getting better it’s getting much easier in to eat in any restaurant. We had the best veggie hot pot the other week. Yum!

    1. Thanks, Joella =) I have the same experience, people are always saying that but I’ve rarely gone hungry when travelling! It’s really unfortunate because meat-eaters often just don’t realise what fantastic veggie foods there are available because they’re not looking out for them, or unlikely to opt for them when they eat out. I’ve seen a lot of great looking Korean veg foods on travel blogs, so it’s a shame someone said otherwise. Oh, I love veggie hot pots in the winter!

  3. Really informative, and the food all looks delicious! I went to Poland a few yearback, and you’re totally right about the amount of veg and salads. The people who said you would starve obviously don’t know what they’re talking about!

  4. Wow, i didn’t know Poland has the highest rate of vegetable and fruit consumption. I always think it must be hard for vegetarians traveling to certain countries, but there’s always options, you just have to look for it. Great post Charlie :)

    1. Me neither until one of the couchsurfers I was staying with said. Even then I doubted it and looked it up on google, but it’s true! To be fair, after finishing travelling in Poland, it’s quite easy to believe because they eat huge side salads, and have salad with every meal.

      Thanks, Lily :)

  5. Hi ! Very interesting post. I’m glad you enjoyed our food :-) Regarding the dumplings I would always double check if ruskie are actually vegetarian ! Some people add bacon to them.

  6. Great post! I visit Poland few times a year to see my friends and we very often have a problem with finding a restaurant that will be approved by everybody, as not all of my friends are vegetarians. I usually stay in Warsaw, and even though there are quite many vegetarian restaurants, in those non-vegetarian there is usually very poor choice. Last time we have found a great restaurant called Akademia. It was not vegetarian, but on request they do prepare a meatless dishes, and they were delicious. Everybody left the restaurant delighted and full:)

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