Text by: Agata Ryszkowska
The vegan movement is growing rapidly and that’s no surprise. With the global warming and the ethical side of agriculture people are starting to realize how much impact their decisions actually have. Five years ago it would be quite of an issue to find plant-based alternatives in Iceland. But now thanks to the popularity of veganism it’s no problem at all! Sit back and get ready for a few practical tips and restaurant recommendations.
There are four main supermarkets in Iceland available in almost every bigger town: Bónus (the most affordable one), Hagkaup, Krónan and Nettó. All of them have plant-based options available, such as plant milk, yoghurts, cheese, energy bars, chocolate, chips, meat alternatives… and the list goes on. There’s everything available that a vegan needs to survive (including ice cream!). It’s worth remembering though that Bónus is slightly worse stocked than the others but it’s still impressive. Bónus is the best for fruit and veggies, Krónan for frozen ready meals, Nettó for savory and sweet treats and Hagkaup is a combo of them all, being also the most expensive. Each of them also offers a decent range of vegan food to go, for example sandwiches or burritos. Auður, the founder of I heart Reykjavik has managed to make a google map with all of the supermarkets marked all around the country. It’s available here. Keep in mind that it’s essential to check the working hours – Bónus tends to close around 7PM but it’s possible to go shopping somewhere else – Krónan is sometimes open until 9PM or Hagkaup in Skeifan and Nettó in Mjódd are open 24/7.
When it comes to bread and other pastry goodies, I’d recommend trying Brauð & Co. It’s a bakery available in many locations and even though it’s a chain, the quality is great. Most of their bread is vegan and they also can satisfy your sweet tooth. Jói Fel is also worth a mention; there you can get a typical Icelandic pastry called snúður, which is basically a sort of cinnamon roll with chocolate or caramel glaze. So good! But the real gem is a bakery called DEIG. There you can get the most amazing and freshly baked soft bagels and vegan donuts that will make you fall in a sugar coma. Besides that if you happen to spend some time in the capital area, give Passion Reykjavik and Brauðkaup a chance. Even if you’re deep into your road trip and you’re far away in the East, you can always find there vegan options. They may be limited, so I’d recommend stocking up on whatever kinds of food.
There is quite a lot of options to choose from. Trust me, you’re not going to be hungry. There are not many entirely vegetarian or vegan restaurants though but most of the places have at least one vegan meal available. There’s no point in listing them all here because they’re all available on the wonderful free app that’s called Vegan Iceland, available both on iOS and Android. Besides that it’s also worth checking out Happy Cow, another great vegan-friendly app (3.99$) and free website that make our lives easier all around the world.
Even though you can easily find places that might interest you the most, I would like to share my very own favorite and affordable ones for different occasions. The order of the list is absolutely random.
Hverfisgata 44, 101 Reykjavík
A burger place where Japanese and Nordic culture have a romance. There is one specified vegan burger on the menu but you can modify any of the burgers to make them vegan. They also offer a few of vegan appetizers and sides. Their French fries are to die for! It’s worth a visit not only because of the food but also for the modern yet cosy interior.
Klapparstígur 37, 101 Reykjavík
It feels like home. Literally like home. There’s nothing that’s fancy in this place but instead you get that cosy vibe and delicious home-like wholesome comfort food. Their menu changes weekly. The owners are incredibly kind and what makes it even better, they offer probably the widest range of plant based cakes in the whole Iceland. So if you have a sweet tooth, that’s the place to go!
Tryggvagata 16, 101 Reykjavík
A very cool and tiny place located near the Reykjavik harbor. It was the first place to offer ramen and so fair it’s still the best one. They have two ramen soups on the menu with freshly made noodles. Their menu is short and specific but you can also find there delicious vegan gyoza and kimchi. Keep in mind that it’s usually packed and it cannot seat more than 10 people.
Bankastræti 12, 101 Reykjavík
It used to be a place where vegans and non-vegans could find something to eat but during Veganuary 2020 Prikid got a collab with pop-up kitchen called B12, named after the famous vitamin that plant-based diet is lacking. It was so successful that they decided to keep on being partners! They offer now a fully vegan friendly menu in which you can find mouthwatering comfort foods, like burgers with locally made mayo, burritos, street corn, fries and soup. This place turns into a party one in the evenings where you can enjoy the real Reykjavik-style nights.
Laugavegur 27, Laugavegur 101, Suðurlandsbraut 8
If you’re looking for food that can warm you up inside out, it’s the place to go! It offers separate vegan menu including soups, dishes, sides and appetizers. If you’re hesitant what to choose, I’d recommend going for the wonton soup. The broth will make you tastebuds go crazy!
Veltusund 3b, 101 Reykjavík
A bar located downtown where you want to go to if you’re out and about or you’re out drinking and that sudden hunger hits you. Grab that super affordable yet giant falafel wrap and you’re set!
Laugavegur 20b, 101 Reykjavík
It’s located in four different places but the one downtown offers the widest range of choice. It’s a very vegan-friendly place that tries to marry health with quickly available and wholesome meals. And they’re doing it great! The food is not mind-blowing but you can be sure that you’ll find something for yourself that’s going to give you a healthy boost of energy in between the multiple tours you’re doing in Iceland.
Grandagarður 23, 101 Reykjavík
It’s located in an old fishing hut and the owners put lots of effort to make this place look warm and inviting. It’s a perfect spot for a Sunday brunch but remember to book your table as it gets quite crowded. You never know what you can get as the vegan option is marked as a ‚Vegan Surprise’ but you can always expect something delicious.
Grandagarður 16, 101 Reykjavík
A food hall located in a building that used to be a fish market. Even though it’s placed a little bit outside of the city center it’s still extremely accessible even by foot. It’s a perfect space to sit down, have a drink, enjoy your free time and appreciate the beauty of the harbor area that surrounds you. It’s gathered some of the greatest food stands, one of which is a restaurant called SPES. It’s a newly opened 100% plant-based restaurant that has a short yet impressive menu. Their goal is to encourage more people to at least try the vegan food and show them that’s it’s both delicious and thoughtful of the environment! It offers sourdough bread sandwiches, chillies, tacos, filling salads and smoothie bowls that are perfect for breakfast. It’s absolutely worth a try especially because of the fact that the owner himself is an enthusiastic vegan. And you know what that means – if the owner is plant-based, there’s no doubt that the food is delicious!
There’s absolutely no problem in getting coffee with plant milk all over Iceland. Most of the coffee shops also offer some sweet treats but some of them really stand out and they really need your love!
Bergstaðastræti 10a, 101 Reykjavík
It’s a coffee shop with cats. You can pet them. And you can adopt them! It’s a gorgeous initiative to help find homeless cats a new, loving owner. Almost everything on their menu is vegan, so you can get anything from a banana cake to a grilled sandwich. Be careful though, the cats like to escape if the door is left unwatched!
Vitastígur 12, 101 Reykjavík
Cute interior, which feels very home-y. It’s a perfect spot to have a sit and work on your laptop. The thing that makes this place stand out is that you can buy there actual plants! It obviously offers a decent selection on plant-based milk and a couple of vegan cakes, for example and avocado-lime one. It’s a bomb! And you can get a vegan cream on the side. Besides sweet treats you can stop by for lunch and have a rich, steamy mushroom soup.
Hverfisgata 98, 101 Reykjavík
Adorable little coffee shop that’s located in downtown Reykjavík. It’s actually a chain coffee shop that’s originally from France. It’s a good spot for a quick snack which can consist of a vegan bagel and a mouthwatering cin namon or pistachio roll. It usually also has scones on its menu, for example a lemon or a tomato&basil ones or blueberry muffins. It’s also a great place for lunch as it also offers a vegan soup of the day. It all depends on a day and whatever you have to choose from, you are LUCKY!
Melhagi 20, 107 Reykjavík
Imagine soaking in a warm water in an outside pool while it’s snowing outside and then having a warm cup of hot chocolate afterwards. Yes, it’s absolutely possible choosing to go to the Kaffihús Vesturbæjar and the nearby swimming pool. The interior is super cosy, it’s also a good spot to do some laptop work or for a chat with a friend. The sweet treats section is not very wide but surely the atmosphere does the job.
Even if you’re plant-based or you’re not, it’s worth giving a try. Vegan meals are often cheaper as they don’t include the expensive animal products and they absolutely give you fuel and energy to explore Iceland. And they’re a fantastic food experience as well! Let us know how did you like it, good luck and have fun! 😊