Close your eyes and picture some Belgian dishes. Thinking of classic mussels, incredible chocolate, and the ubiquitous Belgian waffle? If you’re vegan, this basically means you’re going hungry, yes? Not so fast. Like the rest of the world, Brussels is catching up to those dairy and meat-free diners who still want to dig into unforgettable cuisine while touring Europe. Chocolates in display cases will make you drool as you stroll through the streets of Brussels, and there are plenty of places where you can indulge your vegan sweet tooth. Just a heads up: these vegan chocolates might not contain animal products, but they still pack plenty of calories!
Brown and Sticky
If you come to Brussels with the intention of breaking your diet in a big way, stroll right on in to Neuhaus on the Galerie de la Reine. The Belgian chocolatier has been making the sweet stuff for over 150 years, but the classic recipes are decidedly un-vegan. Thankfully, chefs have reinvented some of the dark chocolates to include cocoa butter rather than actual butter, and dairy cows everywhere are grateful. Instead of the boxed bites of the brown delights, grab the unusual vegan dark chocolates on a stick. The unique presentation stands out and makes the tasting something memorable, and it actually goes perfectly with a hot cup of coffee, also available in Neuhaus. Just don’t take your stick of chocolate outside in the heat of the summer or you’ll get covered in melted brown goo.
There’s Something About Mary
Mary is one of those traditional chocolate companies that has become a household name in Brussels. They have several locations throughout the city, but you’ll want to check out the shops on Rue du Lombard or Galerie de la Reine when you’re in Brussels. Mary has a variety of dark chocolates made to be entirely vegan, but the real reason that this place makes the list is because of the staggering number of free samples. Yes, you read that right: free chocolate! Ask the staff behind the luscious counters of treats to pinpoint which chocolates are vegan, and then be bold and ask to try them. They will happily let you enjoy a bite-size piece of their 72% dark Sao Tomé or their Tablette Brute Noir, which is incredibly dark and filled with nuts like pistachios, almonds, and hazelnuts. Once you’ve had your fill, buy a box as a souvenir of the trip. Or, if you’re feeling gluttonous, just devour the sweets as you ride the metro back to your hotel. No one has to know!
Go Cuckoo for Cocoa Butter
Experiencing Belgian chocolate the classic way usually includes a glass case in a chocolate shop, colourful packaging of individual truffles, and a hefty price tag. If you don’t care about the outer wrapper, some of the best chocolate you can find in all of Brussels might come from the supermarket. Those travellers who are used to sub-par grocery store chocolate are in for a treat, because bars from companies like Galler are cheap, available in local stores, and a far cry from what you can get back home. Try the Galler Noisettes, which are made with cocoa butter and hazelnuts. It’s a blend of 65% dark chocolate, but it is 100% vegan deliciousness.
Take Your Sweet Time in Leonidas
Leonidas has more than 40 locations in the city of Brussels, and each offers free samples of their vegan dark chocolates. If you’ve got some time and you’re feeling seriously indulgent, stop by a few shops and enjoy a free sample. Your short walk to the next storefront will burn just enough calories so that you can stuff your face with another sample. Walking to 40 chocolate shops has to be a workout, right?
Vegans might have to skip the ubiquitous pommes frites with mayonnaise, the Belgian waffles with eggs, and even the local specialty of turbot fish, but there’s no reason to miss out on chocolate. Leonidas, Galler, Mary, and Neuhaus are all classic Belgian chocolatiers that offer vegan candies. While in Belgium, be sure to enjoy a balanced diet: chocolate in each hand!
Where have you eaten the best vegan chocolate?
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