Just a few years ago, it was pretty hard to be a vegetarian in Iceland, never mind a vegan. But thanks in part to the increasingly popular Veganuary—when people go vegan for January, and sometimes stick with it for longer—and due to the varied dietary demands of the tourist masses, the situation is evolving fast. There is now a pretty solid set of places catering to ethically-minded folk. Here are our tips on how to spend a cruelty-free day eating in Reykjavík.
Breakfast: Chia Pudding At Te Og Kaffi
A two tablespoon serving of chia seeds has just as much Omega-3 fatty acids as 4 ounces of salmon. The best version in Reykjavík exists at chain coffee shop Te og Kaffi. Their pudding has that perfect creamy-gooey consistency and is loaded with different toppings. The café also offers dairy-free options for lattes and cappuccinos, like oat milk and almond milk.
Activity: Whale Watching
We’re just taking a shot in the dark here, but if you think about ethical consumption, you’d probably enjoy seeing some whales. Of course, sightings aren’t guaranteed, but some operators offer repeat trips if you don’t see any whales the first time around. There are a variety of options, from a chill cruise to an action-packed speedboat tour, mostly leaving from the old harbour area.
Lunch: Kaffihúsið Garðurinn (Ecstasy’s Heart Garden)
Kaffihúsið Garðurinn offers a diverse menu of cosy filling vegan food. Their menu changes daily but always contains a gluten-free vegan soup option. With a homey vibe and a great outdoor area, this place is perfect for a quiet lunch—and you might find yourself here for much longer than planned.
The owner of the Manía clothing store is vegan, as is every single stylish product sold there. Targeted towards the trendy Instagram crowd, the store features everything you’ll find on your favourite influencers’ feeds only days after their perfectly filtered shot. While Manía is technically a woman’s store, really, what is women’s clothing? Why can’t men wear velvet slip dresses, deep v-neck bodysuits, and chunky black boots? This is 2017, for Goddess’s sake.
Snack: Vegan Ice Cream at Joylato or Valdís
Eating ice cream in every weather is an Icelandic hobby. Joylato’s treats are made right in front of you using liquid nitrogen. They’ve got a plethora of vegan flavours—using coconut milk—which can be topped with everything from fruit to vegan wafers. Grandi institution Valdís also has a vegan option.
Dinner: Kaffi Vínyl
Kaffi Vínyl is, as far as we know, the only 100% vegan restaurant in Reykjavík, so it’ll probably be a go-to during your stay here, with a menu of Oumph-filled sandwiches, an amazingly creamy vegan lasagne, and chunky burgers. They have a great record collection, an airy dining room, and DJs by night—and they even make a frothy and tasty vegan whisky sour.
Linnea Hellström, Krummi Bjorgvinsson and Örn Tönsberg just crowdfunded the construction of a fully vegan diner inside of Gaukurinn, which will offer cruelty-free grub as well as a mouth-watering cocktail menu. But until then,the staff have been vegan-ising the bar, which means you’ll find a selection of fancy vegan cocktails guaranteed to satisfy all your human lets-get-fucked-up desires. If you can, try to catch a concert as well—Gaukurinn is known for booking the best of the rock and underground acts in the city.
Late Night: Mandi
The Mandi vegan falafel is a staple in any self respecting Reykjavík vegan’s diet. If you’re not familiar with the local haunt, it’s open until 6 AM every weekend night, so you can feel free to get absolutely smashed without fear of being a hungry drunk vegan once the bars close.