Vegan Reykjavik – where to find the best eats
What’s your pre-conception of Icelandic food? Lots of lamb, rich cheese, smoked fish, puffin, whale and salmon? Traditional animal based dishes from the days of isolation and survival passed through generations of families most commonly from remote fishing and hunting villages?
The only vegetables Icelandic people had way back when, were potatoes and scurvy was a big problem in the country. Receiving apples and oranges on Christmas was considered a luxury only a few decades ago and only lettuce and cucumber were parts of the Icelandic staple diet.
Being vegetarian was once difficult for Icelanders as there weren’t many vegetable options available and there was minimal to no education on alternatives, whatever was served was eaten. There have been big changes in recent years, Iceland is now officially Lonely Planet’s most vegan friendly country in the world based on population size to the availability of vegan food.
Vegan visitors and residents of Iceland can mostly thank Solla (Sólveig Eiríksdóttir) for the boom in raw and vegan food. She is the owner of the chain Gló restaurants.
Though the Gló restaurant is not entirely vegan, a lot of their food is organic and raw and everything can be veganized on the menu. Solla is a strict raw vegan herself and she has been awarded the best raw food chef in the world.
Icelandic people are so accepting to newer concepts, such as veganism, they like to get carried away with new trends.
We’ve travelled the world solidly for the last three years and we have never come across a country as warm (ok, definitely not the weather), and as welcoming as Iceland. Seriously, we were standing by a road one day and a car stopped from 60mph to let us cross.
Tell them you’re vegan, they’ll welcome you with open arms. They’ll probably offer you ‘Oumph’ too (we’ll get to that a bit later on).
At the height of winter, we explored what vegan food Reykjavik had to offer and we can assure our readers that you will not starve or survive on pasta if you’re visiting Iceland as a vegan.
Enjoy our vegan Reykjavik guide that covers all eateries across the city.
Let’s start with the only all-vegan cafe in Iceland. Vinyl is probably the hippest cafe we have ever had the pleasure of visiting. True to its name, crackling records play out cool mellow beats creating a chilled out ambience that attracts the coolest people in Iceland.
Vintage records can be browsed and purchased while customers eat or drink, and get this, they even offer free vinyls in a box outside!
The scent of vinyls in the air gives the Vinyl cafe its unique stature.
They offer hot meals including sandwiches and lasagna as well as desserts, kombucha and hot and cold drinks and EVERYTHING IS VEGAN.
The food here was delicious, and we’re not exaggerating when we say our taste buds exploded with the intense flavour.
Vinyl have an extensive range of desserts including cookies, cakes and chia pudding. All products used to make the sweet treats are 100% plant based.
Indulge yourself in the only all-vegan cafe in Iceland.
Enjoy items on the Vinyl vegan menu such as soup, wraps, sandwiches, hearty lasagne and noodles.
We opted for the wonderful lasagna, served with a delicious nut salad.
We also had the Black Bean burger, an in-house recipe served with a chunk of fresh pineapple.
If you’re looking for a healthy and completely vegan Reykjavik eatery, look no further than the Vinyl cafe.
Follow Vinyl on Facebook.
The Bonus Supermarket chain are a god-send for budget travelers, especially in a notoriously expensive country like Iceland. Not only can you find cheap groceries and toiletries at Bonus, they also have a good range of vegan food.
We found UK vegetarian and vegan brand Linda McCartney’s frozen produce such as the vegan country pies and popular frozen sausages. Bonus also have the new vegan pulled pork style burgers.
Bonus also stock Icelandic vegan products such as Oomph, a soy bean meat replacement that has a chicken like texture and a delicious flavor.
Gló has been the leading vegetarian and vegan restaurant scene in Iceland since 2007. Their goal is to make it easy for busy people to discover and try new, exciting healthy meals that enrich the mind, body and spirit.
Their four restaurants offer fast service and a variety of wholesome options created by the founder and food artist, Sólveig Eírksdóttir – better known as Solla.
We were invited to sample their vegan menu and we opted for the Spinach Lasagna
As a child she suffered from various types of allergies, but gained perfect health by educating herself and developing her healthy lifestyle even further.
Solla, as she is lovingly called by her friends and family, has had an amazing impact on the eating habits of the Icelandic population.
Even better – she has taught them that healthy eating can be incredibly delicious.
Heilsuhúsið Health Store and Juice Bar
Located next door to the Glo restaurant, Heilsuhúsið is Iceland’s go to place for vegan products.
The store is full of Vegan labeled products such as chocolate, snacks and sauces.
Heilsuhúsið is also full of cruelty free cosmetics such as shampoo, conditioner, creams and body wash.
Customers can also find healthy cooking oils, supplements and toiletries.
For more information, visit the Heilsuhúsið website.
Located right on the main shopping street, Laugavagur, Lemon is a beautiful cafe offering fresh food and juices.
We heard about their vegan sandwich, the Spicy Vegan, and it washes down well with a freshly squeezed juice, especially on those cold winter afternoons.
The ambience of Lemon fits the needs of all clientele. It’s hip, relaxing, clean and fresh. The seating area is minimal yet caters for everyone and you could literally sit here all day and enjoy people watching outside the full length side window.
The Spicy Vegan is made from nordic favorite and soy bean based ‘oomph’ and sliced red peppers slapped between warm sea salt coated toasted bread.
Ask for one of their famously refreshing juices and watch the fruits and roots get squeezed and grinded right before your eyes.
Enjoy people watching on Reykjavik’s main street, Laugavegur, warm up, refresh and meet people from all over the world who frequent the Lemon cafe.
Lemon gave us the tastiest sandwich we had in Iceland, Oomph really is something special and we hear they’re about to stock it at the freezer section in Tesco supermarkets across the UK!
For more info, visit the official Lemon website.
If you’re visiting Iceland from the US, it’s important to understand that Chips are not thin sliced crunchy potato chips, they are in fact thick cut fries and Reykjavik has some of the best in the world.
Not only are Reykjavik Chips’ infamous delicacy cooked in vegan friendly rapeseed oil, they offer some of the most delicious vegan dipping sauces we’ve ever tasted!
There’s simple vegan mayo and then there’s the delicious ‘Hnetan’ which is a vegan cashew sauce. We demolished the whole lot in minutes, Reykjavik Chips give very generous portions and the staff are super helpful with the standard vegan interrogation. They live by their slogan ‘where fries are twice as nice’ making it top of the list on our vegan Reykjavik guide for late night snacks.
If you’d like to find out more, visit the Reykjavik Chips website.
C is for Cookie
C is for Cookie is a beautifully quaint little eatery offering home-baked, warming sweet treats as well as fresh coffee, sandwiches and juices. This is one of our favorite eateries on our vegan Reykjavik guide.
C is for Cookie serve up Illy coffee, deliciously baked cakes, and there’s a breakfast and lunch menu available all day.
The atmosphere is super chilled out with cosy furniture making you feel like you just stepped inside your gradma’s home.
C is for Cookie has gorgeous decor and a humble ambiance. It’s the perfect pit stop after a long day walking the streets of Reykjavik.
The staff are super friendly and knowledgable on their food and ingredients and most importantly, the vegan food items are labelled, and there are lots of them.
Of course, there’s a vegan cookie, packed with dark chocolate and cranberry. 10/10 on taste and freshness from us!
We sampled the vegan carrot cake, which was simply delicious. A flavorful soaked carrot sponge with dashing of fruit and walnut topped with a rich creamy frosting.
A delicious combination of bumpy and moist carrot-flecked cake with hints of fragrant spices combined with the fruity goodness raisins, nuts and tang will definitely bring us back to C is for Cookie, we can’t wait to sample more vegan desserts and mains during our future visits to Iceland.
We also sunk our teeth into the vegan apple pie which was light, fresh, crunchy and delicious.
The pie was packed with real, crisp apple slices, delicately sugar coated with hints of cinnamon and fragrant spices.
There’s a vegan flapjack thrown into the mix too, we were literally spoiled for choice!
What makes C is For Cookie an even more vegan-friendly establishment is the random presence of rat teddies. Vegan people notoriously love everything that lives and the presence of the rat babies is even more reassurance that they’ve found the right spot.
They can even be found in the bathroom!
The prices of the vegan food at C is for Cookie are really reasonable too. It’s around 800ISK (£5/$7USD) per dessert and drinks range between 500-600ISK (£3.80/$5USD)
Enjoy dairy free milk (Soy, Almond and Coconut) along with a great selection of condiments.
Pull up a comfy seat and warm up from the harsh Icelandic elements, there’s plenty to choose from at C is for Cookie and, like most eateries in Iceland, they offer free water.
C is for Cookie use the Alpro Almond milk for Professionals which is a relatively new milk used in cappuccinos in coffee shops because it froths! We were so excited by this as we had previously had froth’s cappuccinos at other cafes.
To Contact ‘C is for Cookie’, visit their Facebook page.
Our vegan Reykjavik hunt brought us right to a beautiful colorful building known by the locals as Joylato. Joylato is located right by C is for Cookie and a stones throw from the Hallgrímskirkja church.
Joylato pride themselves on offering ingredients are fresh, organic, and as local as they can be. All ingredients used in their ice cream and desserts are natural and high quality.
Your hunt for vegan ice cream in Reykjavik is now over!
Anything at Joylato can be made vegan and Joylato’s ice cream bases are made with coconut milk.
They use natural sweetness such as organic maple syrup, raw sugar and dates, completely banning white refined sugar and artificial sweetners.
Icelandic strawberries and blueberries (also known as bilberries) are used along with dark chocolate, the maple syrup comes directly from Canada, along with organic fair trade coffee.
The magic of Joylato’s food comes in the making process, The secret to their creamy ice cream is in the rapid freezing of the mixture. This immediate freezing means that water and fat particles are mixed throughout, avoiding ice crystals and resulting in a rich, creamy texture whilst preserving nutrients.
Enjoy fiery ice cream flavors such as Pumpkin Spice and Mayan Chocolate and freshly baked seasonal cookies and cakes lined on the counter.
Everything at Joylato is also gluten free, enjoy the wide selection of insane ice cream flavors along with unique and traditional desserts.
Be sure to look outside the store for any special offers. Joylato have a regular happy hour offering a drink and a snack for a discounted price. Ask the friendly staff for more information.
As if Joylato couldn’t get any better, there’s also a small health food store attached selling vegan cosmetics, supplements, snacks and toiletries.
For more information on Joylato, visit their website.
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