Iceland is without doubt one of the most magical places on the planet. Known as the land of fire and ice, due to the meeting of sub-zero temperatures and explosive volcanoes, it is a country like no other. In recent years, it has emerged as a must-stop location for keen travellers, seeking out the natural wonders on oﬀ er, and a chance to see the elusive northern lights.
Alas, my trip didn’t bring the magic of the northern lights, but nonetheless, the trip surpassed all expectations. Book your holiday with caution though: Iceland is expensive. If it’s a cheap getaway to escape your day-today
life you want, then Iceland probably isn’t the destination for you. Especially, if you are hoping to eat out regularly.
I arrived in Reykjavík with limited expectations about the food on oﬀer. An island renowned for its fish dishes didn’t seem like the best place to find vegan food, and that was true of the rural areas we visited. However, in
the capital of Reykjavík, plant based options were aplenty.
If you’re anything like us, when you drop oﬀ your bags and decide to explore the city of Reykjavík on your first day, you’re going to be heading directly to Hverfisgata. The street is home to Iceland’s first and only vegan eatery Kaﬀ i Vínyl. The café merges plant based food with boxes upon boxes of vinyl records, tapping into an emerging young hipster crowd which is developing in the Icelandic capital.
The menu at Kaﬀ i Vínyl is an intriguing and eclectic mix that seems to draw influence from various diﬀerent cuisines, without fully committing to one in particular. It is safe to say it is not really comparable to anywhere I’ve
eaten before: it is in its own lane, doing what it does with confidence, and doing it well.
On our first trip to Vínyl, I opted for a delicious lasagne: layer upon layer of satisfying pasta, creamy sauce and
wholesome vegetables. However, one visit to the restaurant just wasn’t enough, and as a result we re-visited a few times, enabling us to taste even more of the Vínyl menu and enjoy the chilled out, retro vibes that gives Vínyl character and charm.
Reykjavík isn’t known for its warm weather, so layering up is of high importance if you don’t want to freeze. If you find yourself in the city during the day then a trip to Súpubarinn is sure to warm you to the core. Located just out
of the city centre, but within walking distance of the hotel district, this lunchtime soup café is a hit amongst the capital’s metropolitan businesspeople. You can expect changing soup flavours each day, with a few labelled vegan options on the menu, to satisfy your need for a winter warming lunch.
Perhaps the most impressive of food finds, was the Pylsa/Pulsa bar and restaurant that we accidentally stumbled across one evening when walking back to our hotel. This classy bistro only oﬀered one vegan option, but that certainly wasn’t a negative, instead it was a classic case of quality over quantity. Meat-free sausages, named Bulsur (an Icelandic vegan sausage made from barley and kidney beans), is paired with maple syrup sweet potato mash, a fresh side salad and coconut creamed kale. Bursting with flavours, this was our unexpected highlight of the Icelandic plant based food tour.
As mentioned, buying anything in Iceland doesn’t come cheaply. If you are trying not to bankrupt yourself, you may want to consider making some food for yourself, particularly if you have a comprehensive kitchen available. We decided we’d buy some bread and jam, to make a simple and cheap breakfast each morning, but we could have found enough tasty ingredients in the Reykjavík grocery stores to create varied and interesting dishes throughout
the entirety of our week.
There is no doubt, that vegan is no longer an unknown concept in Reykjavík. Walk into any of the major supermarkets and you will find plant based products gracing the shelves. From the regular vegan giants that we all know and love, to brands which are unknown to us in the UK: you can get by in Iceland just fine on a plant based diet. This is especially useful if you’re planning to head out of the city on once-in-a-lifetime excursions and want to plan ahead by taking packed lunch. Stock up from the supermarkets with grab-and-go vegan salads to allow you to fully relax and enjoy your trips outside of the capital without the worry of what you may be able to eat.
If you’re looking for whole food plant based goodness, then our recommendation is one of the two Glo restaurants located in Iceland where you get to ‘DIY’ your own meal from a range of healthy whole foods, to allow you to produce the meal of your choice. Like us, you may stumble across Nat Kitchen, which despite giving the impression that it would have great vegan choices owing to the green branded shop front, is actually limited and restrictive for plant based foodies. There are enough alternatives in Reykjavík to allow you to pick and choose the best the city has to oﬀer.
A trip to Iceland can provide you with the opportunity to experience natural wonders that will stay with you for a long time, but you can also travel here safe in the knowledge that there are vegan options galore waiting for you. One of the most bizarre aspects of visiting Iceland was the obsession with cheap hot dogs. We didn’t manage to find a vegan alternative, but have created our own plant based versions on the next page.
Mjólk = Milk
Egg = Egg
Ostur = Cheese
Fiskur = Fish
Mjólkurvörur = Dairy
Things To Do!
1) Blue Lagoon Trip
2) Climb Hallgrimskirkja
3) Free City Walking Tour
4) Golden Circle Tour
5) Northern Lights Night Tour