The animals of Brussels

Updated: 29 February 2020

To make it quick: The most essential place to visit in Brussels is probably the vegan grocery store "Vegasme", more precisely their display cabinet of home-made delicacies, including cake and quiche, and basically you should buy everything you can see in there. You will not regret it.

The rooftops of Brussels*

But let me better start at the beginning ...

When the Pharcyde (in the 90s) said that you only live once, this triggered something inside me: the desire to visit Brussels. So, looking for greener pastures and with high hopes of breaking down the walls of the king of Belgium's private park in Laeken, I set out on a journey that would change my life for three days.

Arriving at around 4 am at the "south station" (Gare du Midi) in Brussels I was greeted the peacefulness of Gare du Midi in the middle of the night, by a (quasi) vegan fast food chain inside (!) Gare du Midi (called "Green Way", see below), by a gentle Belgian drizzle outside, many homeless people in the rain, and the flocking rats running wild in the streets of nightly Brussels. I even saw a rat jovially scampering across the Grand Place (They only come out at night.).

"Green Way" is a vegan-except-for-the-dairy-milk-available-for-drinks Belgian fast food chain. Due to I don't know what I didn't buy anything there.
When closed ...
 ... and when open.



Interestingly, the supermarket chain "Delhaize", which I saw around but did not visit, seems to carry Green Way products.

Close to Gare du Midi is a grocery shop (on Avenue de Stalingrad) which is open early and late (maybe always). They have soya milk, fruit, Lebanese flat bread, tahini, etc., all the fundamentals really, and all at reasonable prices.



Panos is an omnipresent chain selling sandwiches etc. They also have several vegan options which are also clearly advertised as being vegan (see below). Just ask. The lady I spoke to spoke perfect English. Note their slightly random mix of French and Dutch. (In Dutch "Vis" is fish, "Vlees" is meat, and "Kaas" is cheese.) I had the "Vegandia" vegan cheese sandwich which wasn't bad at all.


Panos "Vegandia" vegan cheese sandwich

Exki (as in exquisite) is a healthy foody-type ready-to-eat food chain store. They do have vegan options. But I'm not sure how impressive they are.


Around the Grand Place it's quite touristy, with many chocolate shops, and many of them do sell some vegan chocolates. Beware of gelatine in other sweets.
Somewhere near (very near) Grand Place. Random chocolate shop.

Very close to the Grand Place too there is a 100% vegan Belgian waffle and ice cream shop. It's called "Veganwaf'" The staff was very nice. It's located inside a shopping gallery with mostly cheap shoe and clothes shops (a lot of leather). Outside it says "Agora". So, if this gallery is closed you will not be able to see the Veganwaf' stall.
Veganwaf'


Before we go any further, two sort of essential things:
Frites: The "French" fries in Belgium are not "French", i.e. they are typically not fried in vegetable oil but rather in beef tallow or lard (pig fat), what exactly is controversial, and I didn't really investigate at the species level. This seems to be essential for making the fries Belgian, i.e. Belgian "frites" rather than French fries. Anyway.
Bread: Some baguette isn't vegan. I went into a Carrefour Express (shitty small version of a supermarket chain) and asked if the baguette was vegan. It caused a major ruckus and 15 min later we were told that it doesn't contain milk, and only a little bit of butter.

In a larger (normal) Carrefour supermarket I got this vegan "fit" baguette. It looked like normal baguette (sorry, no picture).

A 100% vegan restaurant called "Ami". It was closed when I walked past. But it looked nice.
An angular view can be a good view.

 Time for you to learn the French days of the week.
 Ami menu

Next, I scampered by a 100% vegan restaurant called "Le Botaniste". Also looked quite nice.

I believe, this sign was by the place next to Le Botaniste (called Bagelstein). I'm not quite sure what it means. It says "Vegan during the day, pig at night."

Beer: Beer is an important cultural attainment in Belgium. Better ask someone who knows something about Belgian beer. I don't know if there are purity laws in Belgium regarding the beer making process (like in Austria and Germany). Apparently, Orval is one of the most famous brands and is vegan. Quite likely most Belgian beers are completely vegan, but I don't know for sure, and not all seem to be vegan (for example because of added honey).

"Be Nuts" is a 100% vegan café/restaurant that is worth going to especially for the fantastic art work desserts and the calm atmosphere with a street view window. Friendly service.





  

Animal are not ingredients. Or, they shouldn't be.

The 100% vegan grocery shop "Vegasme" ...
when closed ...




... and when open



The quiche which was really delicious. Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of the chocolate cake, banana bread and the chocolate brownie. They were really good though. Especially interesting, because all of these seem to be gluten-free. Whether you are interested in gluten-free food or not, this place is worth visiting. Really nice people too.

The 100% vegan fast food place "Veg'ger". (Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

My Belgian correspondent sends the following picture from 26 January 2020:

A 100% vegan restaurant called "L'Alchimiste". Note the Brazilian flag.


Random sign ... "ou même vegan"? (or even vegan)

Random sign

Museum of Erotics and Mythology: Brussels is unique (allegedly), unique in that is has a museum of erotic art, i.e. some Belgian dude's large art collection of mostly sculptures and objects depicting sexual organs or sexual acts. Interestingly from an antispeciesist/animal rights perspective. Some of the sculpture portray sexual acts including non-human animals but these, most of them monkeys, and most of them not in scenarios that could easily be described as rape. Anyway, in reality many of the world's large cities have "erotic" art museums, but this museum unlike many others (judging by the internet) isn't kitschy or full of trashy pornography. It's quite tasteful. Also, before you ask, the museum is largely focused on heterosexual pastimes, and all the homosexual artefacts in the museum seem to be from Europe (I might be wrong). And most things in the museum are from the 20th century. Many of the figurines are made from ivory (especially the ones from Asia).

At the clothing chain store Zara I noticed that they make some vegan suit jackets and coats. Usually these styles of jackets contain wool. 


Cat

Domino's Pizza in Brussels has vegan options.




In Brussels there are many fake Lebanese restaurants (not run by Lebanese people but rather by Syrians usually). We went to one of them (somewhere in Woluwe). I didn't think the falafel was all that good, and it was quite expensive. The triangles are with spinach, and the white stuff is hummus. The tahini sauce had yoghurt (Syrian style). The salad was with artichoke hearts.

This is a metro ticket. One journey costs 2.10 Euros and the ticket is valid for one hour, for as many trips as you like.


Below are some animals in the paintings of Antoine Wiertz. The entry to the Antoine Wiertz museum is free. Antoine Wiertz was a Belgian painter and almost all of his paintings are in this museum.






A vegetarian restaurant that the Brussels Times has called "the world's best vegan restaurant" called "humus x hortense". This is an ovo-lacto-vegetarian restaurant. The Brussels Times is a newspaper for rich people (who apparently don't know what vegan is).



A 100% vegan restaurant focused on raw foods called "Green House".


100% vegan coffee place called "Buddy Buddy", located in a busy shopping area. They also have food.

100% vegan restaurant called "Liu Lin". It says "Taiwanese inspired food". I walked past twice but never during opening times.

My correspondent in Brussels sends the following four pictures from Liu Lin from 28 February 2020 (rating: tasty):
Crispy Chicky Bowl at Liu Lin





Random restaurant "Foodtrotter organic and vegan friendly"

Random sign at some high street store

Random sign, I think inside Gare du Midi. If you have a restaurant or any other place that serves food ... Note to you: This is not a nice meal concept. Add more vegetables and add tofu. And some sauce.

Randomly at night we found "The Sister" which is located near the Grand Place, which is not vegetarian but has many vegan options. However, note that the smoothies list milk and honey but still have the vegan logo, so it's probably a good idea to ask explicitly if things are vegan and to explicitly explain what vegan means (no honey, no milk, no eggs, etc.). The WIFI password on this menu didn't work so I didn't bother to crop the photo.




The falafel wasn't extremely good. 




Oh, we also walked to "Café Varia", a vegan-friendly vegetarian restaurant at Theatre Varia, and it was supposed to be open but it was most definitely closed. 

I also didn't visit the 100% vegan store called "Vgan", even though I was in the area, but I was there late at night.

Also, I could not find the 100% vegan restaurant called "The Judgy Vegan". Either it was not open AND invisible, or it does not exist. I think, the former.

There is also a Canadian 100% vegan fast food chain restaurant with two outlets in Brussels. They're called "Copper Branch". I walked past the address of one of them in the very early morning and could not find it, but this is probably because it's located inside a shopping gallery. So, it's invisible when the shopping gallery is closed. My vegan correspondent in Brussels send the following two pictures from one of the Copper Branch outlets (one inside a shopping gallery, 27 February 2020):
Teriyaki Burger at Copper Branch 


And here are some animals from inside the Jewish Museum of Belgium, which is a good place to hang out when it's raining - it was NOT raining when I was there, only as soon as I left it started raining. The museum is quite large and had several sit down and relax areas as well as several bathrooms which is nice to for travellers who want to stay hydrated.















* Painting (at the very beginning of this post) by Felix Nussbaum. He might have just named it "Brussels" or there was no official. Nussbaum is a famous surrealist painter who was Jewish and originally from north-west Germany (Osnabrück, then a stronghold of Nazi ideology). Felix Nussbaum escaped from a Nazi concentration camp in southern France, then hid in Brussels. In 1944 he was caught, sent to Auschwitz and murdered there by the Nazis on 9 August 1944 when he was 39 years old.