Gone are the days when vegetarians and vegans had only salads and very basic pasta dishes to choose from in restaurants or a need to call way in advance to speak with the chef and ask for special meals to be made.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still cities and countries where that might still be the case but nowadays the amount of vegan options on a menu can be surprising.
Being in Berlin which has so often been defined as a paradise for vegans definitely helps, and judging by the amount of vegan eateries that are in the city seems to increase day after day. We aren’t sure if it is because somehow its become ‘trendy’ at the moment or perhaps for other reasons that we’re unaware of, all we know is that it makes us happy now that we are both fully vegan. In fact it’s nice to know that whilst in Berlin there are so many places where we can eat and shop without worrying about going back ‘home’ (if there is such a thing for us) hungry or with empty hands.
I won’t lie, the fact that Berlin has a big vegan community is something that makes us love the city even more, whilst housesitting in Berlin we’ve also been trying to become a part of the community, not just by eating our way through all the vegan restaurants and bars, but also by trying to help when needed because for us being vegan isn’t just a trend, but more about the ethos for a change in our eating habits and the way we treat animals.
Ahead of our arrival in Berlin we noticed an advert about a vegan and vegetarian food festival happening in Alexanderplatz whilst we intenting to be in the city and that they were looking for volunteers. We couldn’t help getting in touch and make ourselves available for any “English speaking” activities (we really need to learn some proper German at some point).
Three Full Days of Yummy Vegan Food
For the first time in 7 years, the Vegan-Vegetarisches Sommerfest was going to last three full days instead of usual one. We liked the idea behind this event, in fact it wasn’t only meant to be for vegans but for everyone no matter if they have a passing interest in veganism or not. These people in fact were particularly welcomed so that it could be demonstrated to them how tasty and delicious vegan-vegetarian food can be and what the market can offer nowadays too. There are many people that might think of going vegan but have a lot of questions, doubts and insecurities that need answers from experts. Being newly vegan, we too have a lot to learn about it. The festival is also a great way to show how varied, easy and fun a vegan lifestyle can be and not only from the eating point of view but for everything.
At Berlin Vegan Festival there was to be about 70 stalls. Some with plenty of insightful information about animal welfare and rights, about the environment, and also about health and nutrition. Some stalls were selling cruelty-free goods such as shoes, clothing, belts, cosmetics, books – you name it.
There were plenty of delicious vegan food too of course. There was a bit of everything: raw delicatessen, greasy vegan kebabs and burgers, chocolate, vegan onigiri ( which made us remember our time in Japan), veggie paella, vegan ice cream, the typical German bratwurst made with tofu (which we unfortunately didn’t try because it sold out very quickly), vegan waffles, smoothies and juices – I think you got the idea.
Whilst eating and understandably stuffing their faces people were engaged with the various events happening which included live music, shows, talks, workshops and some entertainment for kids too. Apparently this year Berlin Vegan-Vegetarian festival had 20,000 visitors which is a huge improvement compared to the previous editions.
But How Did We Help?
Considering our lack of knowledge of the German language – which we are both not proud of, but are going to work on – the organizer gave us some physical tasks to do, like helping to lay out tables and benches for people to enjoy their food, helping to set up the huge bouncy castle for the kids’ pleasure and fun, and ultimately making sandwiches. Yes, we were responsible, during the first day only, of feeding all the other festival volunteers and ourselves too. We haven’t heard of anyone feeling sick or not very well, which means that what we made was at least edible and not poisoned. Either that or they simply complained in German and we hadn’t understood a single word.
Overall we enjoyed volunteering during the Berlin Vegan-Vegetarian Festival even if we were kind-of in the backstage, we felt we were helping somehow. Next time perhaps we can also help in different ways but only after having taken some German classes to learn the language. The only regret we have is not to have had enough space in our tummies to try more delicious vegan food.
Have you ever volunteered at a festival? Where, and what did you do?
Transport for the day was provided to us by VisitBerlin and their easy to use Berlin WelcomeCard, making it super easy to commute during our stay. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, our own.