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Belgrade Vegan Guide

Belgrade Vegan Guide

I've never been a fan of organised religion, but when Sam from the Alternative Travelers and Caitlin from the Vegan Word told me that thanks to Serbian Orthodox Fasting, Belgrade becomes a vegan haven during lent, I knew I had to invite myself along on their trip to Belgrade. Haha. I took a bus from Budapest to Belgrade and set out to write this Belgrade Vegan Guide:


What you'll find in this Belgrade Vegan Guide:

  • When to Visit Belgrade
  • Serbian Orthodox Fasting - vegan travel loophole
  • Vegan Restaurants Belgrade
  • Vegan Serbian Meals
  • Vegan Graffiti Belgrade


When to Visit Belgrade

First things first, if you can choose when to travel to Belgrade, you must go during Serbian Orthodox Fasting time: 

Serbian Orthodox Fasting

This is a vegan travel loophole! During lent many Serbians follow traditional Orthodox fasting rules which will sound very familiar to vegans. The Serbian Orthodox Lent rules are simple:


Orthodox Lent Rules in Serbia 

The Lenten fast lasts for eight weeks in Serbia. The first and last two weeks are the strictest with people doing various forms of pious fasting: only eating raw foods / only eating after sundown or even fasting completely. 

The second through sixth weeks of Serbian Orthodox Lent are the most interesting for vegans though: during this time the general Orthodox Lent Rules apply:
  • No meat
  • No animal products (no dairy, no eggs)
  • No fish (with a backbone) 



(They also avoid olive oil and wine, but we don't have to do that.)

So what does that mean for vegans that travel to Belgrade?  No meat, no animal products and no fish? That's basically vegan rules! Restaurants, pastry shops and cafes alter their menus to cater for Serbian Orthodox Fasting. 

Suddenly, instead of struggling to find authentic Serbian foods, vegans almost get a free ticket to gastronomical exploration in Belgrade. 

Just two words of warning - honey is still good to go for fasting Orthodox Serbian (apparently bees don't count as animals), and 'no fish with a backbone' means that they can still eat fish without a backbone -  octopus, shellfish etc. 


But, dodging shellfish and honey is so much easier than dodging the normal load of animal carcasses and animal products we usually have to avoid on our vegan travels! 


Put simply, Serbian Orthodox Lent Rules!! 

So when is Serbian Orthodox Fasting?

Serbian Orthodox Fasting starts 40-days before Easter. Easter falls on a different Sunday each year:

  • Easter 2019 is on April 21st, Serbian Orthodox Fasting 2019 starts on approx March 12th
  • Easter 2020 is on April 22nd, Serbian Orthodox Fasting 2020 starts on approx March 13th 


Vegan Lent Belgrade  

Visiting Belgrade during lent is ideal because you'll have so many more options available to you. You don't have to visit Belgrade then (more on how to visit Belgrade as a vegan when it's not lent below), but I do really recommend you visit Belgrade during lent, here are some things you'll be able to enjoy during this time:


Belgrade Pastry Shops

Pastry shops are very important in Serbia, with every Belgradian having a fierce loyalty to their favourite one. During Serbian Orthodox Fasting you can go wild, choosing anything with a yellow sticker (vegan-friendly)! 

This is particularly exciting because you can do 'blind' tastings - pick anything with a yellow sticker, and find out later what it is! (Safe in the knowledge, that whatever it is it doesn't have meat or dairy or eggs in it.)


serbian lenten recipes
Caitlin with our abundance of pastries 

Failing the yellow sticker, simply ask for 'POSNO' options - this is the Serbian word for Lent. It's easy to remember because it looks like porno. Posna and posni and posne are also safe - they're just variations of the word posno.


Skadarlija Belgrade

Skadarlija is a vintage street in Belgrade that's very popular with tourists, it's pretty, it's historical and it has a number of restaurants and cafes.

During Serbian Orthodox Fasting, vegans will find lots of yummy vegan options on the menus here (posno). We went into one restaurant that wouldn't have been out of place in Italy (aka the decor was vile). We ordered a bunch of posno options - the waitress was very excited about this, but clearly had her own ideas and came back with dishes that she wanted us to have (all still vegan, and all delicious, don't worry): 

serbian lenten recipes



Belgrade Vegan Cafes

During lent, lots of Belgrade cafes will stock vegan-friendly sweets. We ordered coffees with soy milk, and the waiter brought us over some mini croissants to go with it:


vegan lent belgrade

He assured us that they were dairy free (and they were free of charge). It was very thoughtful - and 10 points to him for using initiative! 



Put simply, if you visit Belgrade during lent you will be overwhelmed with vegan options you just don't normally see when travelling. 

But even if you don't visit Belgrade during lent, there's still vegan options for you:


Belgrade after Serbian Orthodox Fasting

I visited Belgrade a month after lent and was shocked to see a whole bunch of POSNO options still in the supermarket:


serbian orthodox fasting


And this wasn't some hipster / touristy supermarket in the centre of Belgrade, this was right on the outskirts in a sleepy village. That's because posno is for devout Orthodox Christians, not for vegans. But we can enjoy it too, of course, there was a whole host of things! Hummuses, nut butters, cakes, sweets and so much more: 


posno posne posna posni


And it doesn't stop at the supermarkets, there are a number of vegan-friendly restaurants in Belgrade all-year round:


Vegan Restaurants Belgrade

Glow Restaurant

Glow Restaurant is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Belgrade - right in the centre. Being attached to 4-star Hotel Moskva, Glow Restaurant has an undeniably posher ambience than your average vegan restaurant - but don't let that put you off, the food is delicious and the waitress was really friendly. 

vegan restaurant belgrade

I had the vegan burger, although it was absolutely stunning, I was a bit disappointed when I first saw it - it looked tiny! But my disappointment soon disappeared - I was so full I could barely finish it!

I wasn't over-impressed with the buns, but everything else was insanely delicious - the burgers themselves, the sweet potato chips and the cheese. Omg, the cheese was the best part - made of almonds, it had an incredible texture, truly reminiscent of dairy cheese. It also had a strong flavour (sadly a rarity with vegan cheeses). I loved it. 

The ambience of the place combined with the delicious food made this one of my favourite vegan restaurants Belgrade. 

Address: Glow Restaurant, Balkanska 1, Beograd 11000
Open: 8am - 10pm daily
Price: $$ for Belgrade, but not by Western standards - the vegan burger and a glass of wine cost around $12

Radost Fina Kuhinjica

Radost Fina Kuhinjica is another vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Belgrade - right next to Belgrade Fortress. Housed in a converted apartment gives it a quirky homey feel, and it's relatively hard to find (there's no sign outside, and you're literally in an apartment building). This gives the idea that you're about to discover something underground and special, unfortunately, this is not what I found.

vegan restaurants belgrade

I ordered the ramen and received a bland bowl of something that I wouldn't have been surprised if you'd told me was dishwater - except I think dishwater would have had more flavour. It was really oily - but not in a good way, and there were a couple of vegetables and a few noodles floating around it in a depressed kind of way. 

There was also tofu in it that was really flavourful and yummy, but it couldn't save the dish. I don't think you can even blame that I've been spoilt by visiting Tokyo as a vegan - I could have made a better ramen, and I'm shit at cooking. 

One positive was that I was starving when I arrived and super full when I left, but that should be a given really. 

They don't take credit card (cash only) and the nearest cash machine was 10 minutes away. The waiter was also pretty rude, not something I care that much about, but whilst I'm on a rant.

But maybe the ramen just isn't their forte - this is Serbia after all, not Asia. I've read glowing reviews on HappyCow about their hummus - if you have a nicer dish there, let me know! 

Address: Radost Fina Kuhinjica, Pariska 3, Beograd, 11000
Open: Wed-Sun 2pm - 11pm
Price: $$ - super expensive considering I hated it, the ramen was about $9.50 (it did fill me up though)


Shawarma Hanan 

Shawarma Hanan is not a vegan restaurant in Belgrade, but as this place was recommended by my real live Serbian vegan friend Natalija <3,  I knew we'd be in for a treat, and we were. 

serbian orthodox fasting

I ordered a falafel wrap and it was some of the best falafel I've had in my whole life (including in vegan Israel). It wasn't dry and it was packed with flavour, the hummus as well was incredible. The staff were super friendly (despite thinking we were Russian). 

The ambience of the place is nothing to write home about - it's just a falafel bar, but there is extra seating upstairs and it gets the job done seat-wise (you could also just take it away). 

Address: Shawarma Hanan, 37 Svetozara Markovica Street, Beograd
Open: Tue-Sat 9am - 1am, Sun-Mon 12pm - 11pm
Price: $ approx $3 for a filling, delicious falafel wrap 


Smoking in Belgrade Restaurants

It is still legal to smoke indoors in Belgrade which includes cafes, restaurants and bars. It's gross, but I loved it! I don't smoke, and smoking indoors makes everything smell and taste gross. Why did I love it? a) it reminded me of my grandma b) it made me grateful that you can't smoke indoors in many other countries, and c) it made me feel like I was really in another country: 

So often when you travel (especially in Europe), you can feel like you haven't really gone anywhere new - especially when there's a Starbucks and McDonalds on every corner. So when there is something unusual (albeit disgusting), it's very exciting. 

Lots of restaurants have a smoking section and a non-smoking section (not that that makes any difference). We even witnessed a waitress stood under a no-smoking sign in the kitchen, smoking. Metal. 

Serbian Lenten Recipes and Meals 

Here are some must-try Serbian meals that become vegan-friendly during lent or are accidentally vegan anyway:


Prebranac and Pasulj

Prebranac is a traditional Serbian recipe of baked beans - it's nutritious, it's cheap, it's delicious and has a real home comfort feel to it. 

vegan lent belgrade

Pasulj is its bean soup counterpart, traditionally made with meat - try and find a POSNO pasulj during lent!


Ajvar

Ajvar is an insanely delicious spread made from red peppers, garlic and chilli. It's known as 'Serbian caviar', and for good reason - it's dope. 

I was first introduced to ajvar when my Serbian friend gave me some of her Grandmother's home-made stash. It set the bar very high and ruined me for other ajvar.

Saying that, the ajvar you can find in pretty much every Serbian restaurant and even the ajvar in jars in the supermarkets are still kings compared to whatever spread your country is famous for. #sorrynotsorry.

I mean, apart from Marmite, obviously. 



Rakija 

The national drink of Serbia is Rakija. Not dissimilar to Hungarian favourite Pálinka, it's super strong, it's horrible, you have to try a home-made one and yes, you absolutely have to try it. 

vegan restaurants belgrade

Rakija comes in all different flavours - personally I liked the raspberry, but I've been told the juniper is more traditional (the juniper is rank). 

Vegan word of caution though, rakija can come in honey flavour and is not vegan.



Vegan Graffiti Belgrade 

We were psyched to see so much awesome vegan graffiti in Belgrade:

vegan graffiti

It was everywhere! The most popular seems to be a pig with a 'go vegan' written on it. But there was a fuck fur fox, a cute yellow go vegan chick and a cow:  

vegan graffiti belgrade

This slogan says 'my boobies, my milk'. We're covering the 'my milk' section though, which I think is hilarious. 


WANT MORE of Europe? Try my Vegan Warsaw Guide


Summary: Belgrade Vegan Guide

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Belgrade, what it lacks in traditional beauty it more than makes up for with friendly locals, very few tourists and the most amazing pastries I've had in my life.

Travelling to Belgrade as a vegan isn't impossible, and if you happen to travel during Serbian Orthodox Fasting, it can turn out to be an absolute delight. 

Have you been to Belgrade? Would you like to go? Let me know in the comments below!

And special thanks to Sam and Caitlin for letting me crash their trip - if you ever get the chance to travel with these two vegans, go for it! 


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