Are you planning on visiting Switzerland? If so, the Swiss Vegan Society (Vegane Gesellschaft Schweiz) has some travel tips for you!
Although vegan gastronomy is not very established in Switzerland yet, restaurants will generally try to accommodate you. If, however, you don’t inform yourself about vegan options in advance, you could end up with a mere salad and steamed vegetables. To make your experience eating out as enjoyable as possible, try to plan ahead.
Generally speaking, going out to eat vegan is easiest in the cities of Bern, Basel, Zurich and Rapperswil. There you’ll find the most vegan-friendly options and restaurant chains like Tibits, Hiltl, Hitzberger and Italian Molino that have vegan labels on their food items. At Starbucks there’s always a soymilk option for a coffee.
Especially in urban areas many people understand and speak some English, but in case you need help to communicate in any of the country’s three main languages (German, French and Italian), we recommend the vegan passport.
Shopping for food
Switzerland’s two largest shopping store chains are called Coop and Migros. They offer lots of vegan food staples you can buy to prepare at home, but not many ready-to-eat vegan meals (except simple things like salads, breads and a veggie pastes). As of 2013 Coop has launched a vegetarian ready-meal product line called Karma, which includes quite a few vegan options such as sandwiches, salads and ready-meals.
In most cities and towns you will also find a “Reformhaus” or a “Bioladen” that offers mainly organic food. These smaller stores usually have a decent selection of vegan products like tofu, fake meats, soy yoghurts and sometimes even sandwiches and cookies and the staff will gladly assist you with any questions you might have regarding vegan products or resources.
Got the munchies?
Many of the fast-food stops have “Falafel” on their Menu. As the vendors often speak better English than German, just ask them about the ingredients and the sauce.
A type of bread sold by street vendors called “Bürli” (usually served with a bratwurst) as well as white bread typically served with a salad in restaurants are usually vegan. So are the large pretzels (if they’re without filling) from street vendor chain Brezelkönig, which can be found in or around many of the larger train stations.
Many shops and even snack vending machines sell potato chips of the brand Zweifel. The varieties “Paprika” (orange packaging) and “Natur” (red packaging) are vegan and very readily available.
In the pizzerias it is advisable to ask concerning the dough which may (rarely) contain milk or eggs.
The land of vegan chocolate & cheese
Dark chocolate is often vegan (but always check to make sure) and many of them are even organic and fairtrade. The largest selection of vegan, organic and fair trade chocolate is found in an health food store like a “Reformhaus” or a “Bioladen”.
Switzerland is known throughout the world for its (non-vegan) dairy and cheese. But there’s also some amazing Swiss vegan cheese, which is available in some health food stores and always available in online shops. Check out the Swiss chesse manufacturer Vegusto for more information or order online from Larada.
Check out our event calendar to see if there’s a local meetup taking place in your area (a so-called vegan “Stammtisch” usually happens once a month).
On Facebook you can also find a bunch of regional vegan groups with members that will gladly give you information and advice for travelling in that particular area of the country.
We hope you will enjoy your visit to Switzerland and we assure you that the Swiss Vegan Society will continuously make an effort to increase the available vegan options in the near future 🙂
more english information: Vegan Basics ( PDF )