Sunday, 8 November 2015

A Vegan in Iceland - Food, Cocktails and Trips!

My boyfriend and I spent 5 days in Iceland at the end of September, and had a spectacular time. You can even enjoy the food on this magical island as a vegan.

You'll find most vegan-friendly food in Reykjavik. Ask the staff - most people understand the concept today and even take an active interest in it. You can ask them to exclude any offending items from the dishes to make it vegan. It is also a great place for trying new things!

Hotel Laxness and Vegan Burgers in Kaffihúsið Álafossi

We stayed in a great hotel outside Reykjavik and walked to a tiny village on our first evening in Iceland. We found a lovely little restaurant and I was amazed to find they offered a vegan burger and even cake! Wonderful staff, decor and food.

Vegan Burgers in Kaffihúsið Álafossi

Reykjavik Chips with Vegan Sauce

No.1 - my favourite food - chips. We found this place just off the main street (Laugavegur) and, much to my surprise, it does a vegan chip sauce! It tasted like peanut satay sauce and was incredible. I never knew peanuts and potatoes went so well together. Really cool place too - with chip-related decor, good music and very nice staff. We need this in UK!

Reykjavik Chips with Vegan Sauce
Reykjavik Chips with Vegan Sauce

Lebowski Bar for Vegan White Russians

Anyone who has seen the film will love this place. Actually, anyone will love this place. Also on Laugavegur it has a 50's bowling alley theme and every kind of White Russian you can imagine (even vegan) this place is worth a visit whilst in Reykjavik.

Did I say a vegan White Russian? Why yes, I did! The bar tender's friend was vegan so he knew exactly what to do. He used soya milk and cream to replace the dairy. I enjoyed a liquorice flavoured one, and worked really well, but, you know, that's just, like, my opinion, man.

Lebowski Bar for Vegan White Russians

Iceland Air Hotel for Avocado on Toast and Liquorice Hot Chocolate

We found this cool little cafe which joined the hotel along the harbour and stopped here to revitalise and warm up. The staff were really nice - one had lived in Cardiff for a number of years and he even had a Welsh accent when he spoke to us in English!

They served my favourite - avocado on toast (just ask for no butter) and a new one for me - hot chocolate with liquorice (with almond milk). Apparently the Icelandic enjoy liquorice as much as I do - probably as it is salty. I would recommend this! Wish I could make it here somehow.

Stayed here for a while next to the central fire place. Lovely.

Avocado on Toast and Liquorice Hot Chocolate

Whale Watching with Elding - Choose An Animal Friendly Tour Group and Restaurants

You can't visit Iceland without going Whale watching. This family run tour group is completely against whale hunting and are actively trying to have it banned. They argue that a whale is worth more alive than dead as generates much more income from tourism than from the meat industry. The staff are also very respectful towards the whales as they don't want to harm them or drive the pods away; they are marine biologists so know what they are talking about!

They also encourage people to boycott restaurants that serve Whale meat. They have a whale-friendly restaurant 'Mar' which you can get 10% off with your ticket.

We went for the Northern Lights & Whale Watching package, it is worth every penny. Be sure to take a free travel sickness pill and wear the overalls they provide - it gets choppy and chilly out at sea.

My boyfriend spotted a minky whale and we all saw some incredibly acrobatic dolphins; they leapt right out of the water and kept swimming under our boat. I did get very sea sick though!

The Northern Light tour was a real unexpected treat as I was convinced it would be called off due to the bad weather, but they do say "if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes" in Iceland as it is so changeable. Sure enough, it was a beautiful clear night and high solar activity meant that we saw an extraordinary display; the lights were so strong and danced across the sky in front of our eyes.

Whale Friendly tours iceland

Traditional Tomato Soup in Cafe Haiti

This was a cure for my sea sickness after the whale watching tour. A little cabin on the harbour with a warm, cosy atmosphere. I really enjoyed their homemade soup - simply tomatoes and basil (no cream! yey!). They also do fantastic coffee.

Icelandic Tomato Soup

The Laundromat Cafe - No Vegan Sandwich :-(

I was looking forward to this place as I had heard they did a great vegan sandwich. When I looked online I couldn't see it on their menu so send them a message on facebook, where they assured me they still offered this. Sadly, when I tried to order it the staff didn't know what I meant, so I had to order a vege burger minus cheese and menu. I wasn't aloud to replace these items sadly, even by paying extra (avocado would have been a nice replacement) so the burger was really dry and disappointing. Still worth a visit as the decor is cool, but perhaps just get chips. There is also actually a laundrette underneath - so it is authentic hipster!

laundromat cafe iceland

Picnic Food for the Day Trips

The best way to enjoy the sites of Iceland is to hire a car and go for an explore. It is a big island, so you will be out all day. Bring a picnic as you won't find much vegan food on the road. For these excursions, we stocked up on essentials from the local supermarket; bread (try the Icelandic flat bread - reminded me of what the elves give the hobbits in Lord of the Rings), tomatoes (grown in labs in Iceland) cashew nuts, hummus, crisps and I even found some Violife vegan cheese spread!

Vegan picnic