Traditional Eastern Europe is still a vegan and natural foodie’s paradise twenty-something years after the Iron Curtain wall came down. In the mountainous places in Eastern Europe, the inhabitants still personally forage for fresh mushrooms as they come in season. Many generations still pickle (ferment) their own garlic, cabbage, and tomatoes to get ready for the hard, cold months of winter. Pension getting retirees still line on the sidewalks of towns and villages selling their own garden produced vegetables and fruits to make extra money.
Not only is Eastern Europe more traditional food-wise, but only last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin made headlines when he outlawed all genetically modified organisms from any food produced or imported into the nation in a showdown with America. He has since pledged to make Russia into the world’s largest producer of all-natural organic food.
Read on to discover four wonderful Eastern European all-natural foods.
1. Kohlrabi Soup
Hungary is world famous for its foods. While Goulash may be the best known of their world class soups, it contains beef. For vegetarians and vegans, a better choice is the Kohlrabi Soup. This has been affectionately called the darling of the vegetable gardens of Eastern Europe. Some kind of a strange cross between turnip and cabbage, kohlrabi lasts long through the cold and harsh Eastern European winters and thus makes its way into a number of recipes throughout the region. The creamy soup of kohlrabi has been called a gift from the food gods to humanity.
It uses several ingredients besides the beloved kohlrabi. This includes onion, vegetable stock, milk, butter, salt and pepper, and bay leaves. Vegans can substitute the animal-based ingredients with coconut or soy milk and butter alternatives to keep the meal in line with the vegan diet principles.
Strudels are famed around the world, yet Eastern Europe is their original center of existence. These sweets or savories which they wrap up in a yeast-raised dough, or flaky dough are baked to gooey perfection. Eastern Europeans are the extraordinary strudel makers of the globe too. Some countries there utilized flour, water, oil, and salt to make the dough. Others employ butter, eggs, and vinegar. Still, others employ yeast. In some nations, the filling must be spread atop the whole surface of the dough while in others they only deploy it on the first third of this dough.
Some Eastern European bakers stretch their dough two times. Others will dry the dough before they fill and roll it in an effort to keep the pastry leaves from sticking together. However they make it, these lovely pastries filled with fresh seasonal forest fruits or savory ingredients are sure to make your mouth water as they bake in the oven.
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3. Houskový Czech Bead Dumplings
The Czech Republic, in particular, is famous for another type of Eastern European Vegan delicacy. This is the traditional Czech bread dumplings which they call houskový knedlík. They are regarded as a critical cornerstone of the national Czech culinary history and heritage.
Although this dish is very famous, its ingredients are as basic as milk (plenty of vegan options), flour, eggs (you can use flax seed), and cubes of stale bread which they form into a roll or loaf, boil, slice, then serve. Such dumplings work ideally as a means of soaking up the gravy. They are most often served alongside roast pork with sauerkraut, roasted pork loin, chicken paprikash, roast goose and roast duck, goulash, and roast beef and dill sauce, but you can use them as a side dish for vegan courses.
4. Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
A fourth food that is well known the world over and more famous still throughout Eastern Europe proves to be the stuffed cabbage roll. These highly comforting foods can be made entirely vegetarian (and even vegan) and filled with millet, barley, or buckwheat groats. Others will be topped off with pork, lamb, or beef, or even some happy combination of the three types of meat. Utilizing vegetables and beets along with grape leaves rather than cabbage is also extremely common in the Slavic and Greek lands.
The amazing fact is that you can enjoy a lovely stuffed cabbage or grape leaf dish for an entire month each day and never repeat the same recipe twice.
For example, in Bulgaria, this dish is called Sarmi and is stuffed with veal, pork, tomato juice, and carrots and topped off with yogurt and paprika sauce. In Croatia, they are known as Sarma and includes various bits of meat and vegetables for their stuffing. Poland calls their variation golabki or little pigeons. They mix beef and pork with barley, rice, or buckwheat groats (but you can do them without the meat too) and lovingly fill the cabbage leaves, roll them, then finally cook them inside of an oven or even on the top of a stove until they become tender and oh so delicious.
Eating Across Europe as a Vegan Is Challenging but Possible
The truth is that it is not easy to be a vegetarian, much less a vegan, anywhere in Europe and especially Eastern Europe. Yet, it is possible. Between these delicious delicacies and others offered in the region, you can dine well as a vegetarian or vegan while traveling in or visiting Eastern Europe, if only you are willing to work at it a bit.