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Dining for vegetarians in Poland Posted by on Jul 31, 2011 in cooking, Education, food, traditions, travel

You would be forgiven for thinking that Poland was no place for a vegetarian (wegetarianin, jarosz) – after all, Poland is famous for its meaty stews and sausages. However Poland is surprisingly vegetarian friendly.

If you look at the menu of any restaurant serving traditional Polish cuisine, you will almost certainly find mushrooms in one form or another. Whether it is flavoursome wild mushrooms (aromatyczne grzyby) served on buckwheat pancakes (naleśniki gryczane) with a generous dollop of sour cream, or pierogi stuffed with mushroom and cabbage, mushroom dishes served with a mixed salad on the side can make a more than adequate meal, especially when preceded by a tasty beetroot or tomato soup. Also look out for salads – far from being a collection of limp lettuce leaves and a slice of tomato, many smaller cafés and informal restaurants in Poland serve salads that are almost a meal in their own right, especially when served with a slice or two of crusty bread.
International cuisine is always a good back-up option for a vegetarian with a hearty appetite. Even in smaller towns you’ll find an Italian restaurant or pizzeria where you can feast on meat-free pizzas and pasta dishes. Larger cities offer a wider range of ethnic restaurants (etniczne restauracje), which means that you’ll be able to take your pick from Asian style stir-fried vegetables and tofu with noodles, Middle Eastern falafels and salads, Indian daal and other types of lentil-based curries, to name just some of the many vegetarian-friendly ethnic options available in Poland.
There are also quite a few dedicated vegetarian restaurants available throughout Poland. Keep an eye out for the green and yellow Green Way logo; this restaurant chain, which has over 34 outlets across Poland, offers an excellent range of freshly prepared soups, salads and main-courses such as enchiladas, koftas and vegetable bakes. “From the very beginning, our aim has always been to improve the quality of peoples’ lives” explains Jerzy Szkolnicki, one of the founders of Green Way. “Offering truly delicious and healthy vegetarian fare has always been our highest priority. We knew that in order to run the restaurant successfully, we needed to provide absolutely tasty, healthy meals served in generous proportions at a reasonable price and with great service”.
I found couple reviews from customers dining at Green Way in Kraków:
“Literally a stone throw from the Rynek Główny, this canteen style (but still nicely decorated) restaurant is a must for lunch and/or dinner. The menu has a wide range of vegetarian delights, and being more of a meat eater, I was still very impressed. The restaurant is pretty much self service, you basically order your food, they give it to you (in less than 5 minutes) and then take it to a free table. Recommend you sit first peruse the menu and then order especially if the place is busy. Food was tremendous and massive portions. We had the enchilada, and the mixed 6 dish (which was a selection of 6 of their dishes). I couldn’t recall what was in it, but it was great as was the enchilada. Total cost for these and 2 drinks were 48zl…BARGAIN and we were stuffed!”
“A perfect place for vegetarians, and more. Anyone who wants to meatless meal, whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, there’s something for everyone. Portions are big, prices affordable, tasty dishes, wide selection. Everything is served very nicely. The downside of the premises is not enough space and often at lunch time and hard to get here. Above the heads of eating, however, pressed the checkout queue.”
Before you head out to Poland, make sure that you pack a copy of Vegetarian Europe, a 288 page guide to vegetarian restaurants in 23 countries including Poland, which will help you to locate vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants and health-food shops. Compiled and reviewed by vegans and vegetarians with extensive local knowledge, the guide also provides valuable phrases in the Polish language, including “I am a vegetarian” and “I do not eat meat, chicken or fish”. You can also check some websites that will give you a list of vegetarian restaurants, like this one for example: http://www.happycow.net/europe/poland/
Few phrases for you:
vegetarian – wegetarianin
vegetarian dish – danie wegetariańskie
vegan dish – danie wegańskie
gluten free – bezglutenowe
diet – dieta
I’m on vegan diet – Jestem na diecie wegańskiej
I do not eat meat – Nie jem mięsa
Whatever you eat, wherever you eat, Poland is a country that is full of culinary delights. Smacznego!

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew up in Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


  1. ania:

    what happened to the wonderful full text rss feed? the rss feed is now truncated and i can’t read it without coming to the site, which is unfortunate because i often read the site offline while i am on the subway…

    please fix this problem if possible so i can keep reading this great blog!


  2. Russ:

    Although it’s true that you can usually get a salad or meatless pierogi etc, the vegetarian options in typical restaurants are unfortunately pretty sparse compared to more western countries where restaurants have a greater range of vegetarian and vegan main dishes.

    And vegan main dishes are very tough to find in restaurants serving Polish cuisine. Most of the vegetarian stuff is not vegan (due to having cheese or cream or eggs).

    A vegan traveler will be wise to look for specifically vegan-friendly restaurants (which are scarce – e.g. AFAIK we have only Vega and Green Way in Wrocław), or go to ethnic restaurants (e.g. Chinese, or pizza and other Italian dishes requested without cheese), unless they just want to eat mostly salads and frytki… and ethnic restaurants are scarcer than in many countries, alas.

    PS: I’ve found that a majority of the middle eastern places I’ve visited in Wrocław don’t actually have falafel – surprising and frustrating! (Of course they have gyros and other meat dishes…)