An old Swiss saying translates roughly into English as: “When the farmyard stalls are empty, we’ll start peeling the potato.” Switzerland is associated with dairy, adding milk to cocoa to make fine chocolate and making fine cheeses. Switzerland’s classic dishes are not famed for their vegan-ness. The classic Rösti is a vegan candidate, but it is almost always full of butter and often topped with eggs, cheese and sour cream. And of the Bernese type is mixed with bacon. Otherwise it’s cheese fondue or fondue Chinoise (slices of cow, horse or turkey). Then there’s the raclette, maybe a few potatoes, but… etc.
Paradoxically, having lived in Switzerland for over ten years as an unhealthy vegetarian, and over the last few months as an oil-free vegan, I can say Switzerland is pretty much a vegan paradise. Vegan is not overdone, there’s not a lot of junk vegan food around (although it is beginning to make an appearance) and it is not over-raw, over fanatic (something I noticed living in Germany). Those farms dotted around the countryside, when they are not busy torturing animals, are busy putting out shelves of fresh vegetables and fruit just waiting for the passing walkers and cyclists to call in, weigh-up, and put their cash in the honesty box. That’s easily accessible fresh local goods, often BioSuisse – and personally, this is exactly what I want!
In the supermarkets “Bio” or Organic is becoming big. And in its wake comes a lot of both vegetarian and vegan food. Coop has started its Karma range which features a host of vegetarian and vegan ingredients and ready-dishes and over at Migros, the other ubiquitous Swiss supermarket, the Alnatura range is steadily being expanded. That’s organic stuff, not always vegetarian or vegan – but predominantly so. Alnatura also seems decently priced – it puts organic in the range who don’t want to spend a fortune on food.
Retaurants are changing too. A few years ago vegan was hardly seen on the menu at all. Now it’s becoming a standard addition. And it was a visit to IKEA and finding vegan food on the menu that was the catalyst for creating this site in the first place. Vegan is on the march around the world and it has definitely arrived in Switzerland.