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How moving to Berlin inspired me to go vegan

Portuguese food writer Inês David always had an uncomfortable relationship with food. Moving to Berlin gave her control over her eating habits and turned cooking into her passion.

How moving to Berlin inspired me to go vegan
Photo: DPA

When I first moved to Germany I was a different person. Straight out of college, I had a lot to learn about life and myself. Living in Berlin was eye-opening in many ways.

Food was always a big aspect of my life, but not always the best. Since a young age, I had a complicated relationship with food. Going from eating too much to eating nothing at all, I was always out of balance.

This changed once I moved to Berlin. Instead of looking to food as the enemy, I discovered how it can help you heal.

Cooking and discovering healthy recipes became my new passion. I’d rush to the supermarket after work to prepare dinner. Kürbis (pumpkin), Brot (bread), and Mandel (almond) were actually the first German words that I learned. At that time, I was about 90 percent vegetarian, but something was still missing.

That’s when I went to the Veganes Sommerfest, a festival which takes over Alexanderplatz in Berlin every year in August. It's the perfect event for you to get a feeling for the movement – there’s a bit of everything there.

From the different vendors showing off their products, to the various animal rights organizations, the festival, which runs from August 19th to 21st this year, has it all.

Known personalities will be there for a variety of workshops and debates for vegans and non-vegans alike. And, of course, it is a showcase of some of the most amazing vegan food we have from all over Germany.

I still remember how welcomed and connected I felt my first time there. It was one of these aha! moments when it all finally makes sense to you.

I went vegan almost overnight – after watching a documentary promoted at the festival, I felt as if I had no other option. If I wanted to be true to my values, I had to be vegan. For me, it’s an ethical choice first and foremost.

After I had the information, I simply could not stand the fact that I was complicit in the killing of dozens of animals for pure pleasure. In a world with an abundance of food and nutritional sources, this was an easy decision to make. As vegans we believe animals owe nothing to humans, neither food, clothing, nor entertainment. To us, it’s just not right.

This month marks my third year as a vegan and almost my fourth living in Germany. And today I’m a different person because of these choices.

Berlin is considered the vegan capital of Europe for a reason. Its vast variety of vegan restaurants and cafés perfectly marries the many Berliners bringing the movement to a whole different level of vegan living.

We have cooperatives such as La Stella Nera in Neukölln, which will make you forget you're not in Italy – or that you ever thought vegan cheese couldn’t replace the real thing.

Kontor Eismanufaktur, which has shops in Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, has the best ice cream I’ve ever tried, and even has spaghetti ice cream.

 

Can't stop, won't stop. Belgian chocolate and crazy peanut

A photo posted by Inês ~ Berlin (@__lemonpie) on Jul 20, 2016 at 12:32pm PDT

Finally, Fast Rabbit, a fast food joint also in Prenzlauer Berg, is the best example that you don’t need fancy ingredients to make food taste delicious.

Once you start looking, you’ll see it everywhere, from Meetups to animal rights conferences. They care about animal welfare and about the planet.

And so I fell in love with the city and myself again. Today I not only feel better than ever, but I’m also writing my own cookbook. And honestly, I couldn’t have done it without this incredible city.

Inês David is a food writer from Portugal who lives in Berlin. You can follow her journey through Berlin's vegan scene on Instagram.

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RESTAURANTS

EXPLAINED: The rules in Germany on outdoor dining as bars and restaurants reopen

In many parts of Germany, outdoor dining has reopened for bars, restaurants and cafes. But what exactly are the rules on eating out?

EXPLAINED: The rules in Germany on outdoor dining as bars and restaurants reopen
A restaurant owner in Bad Nauheim, Hesse, as breakfast guests are served in the background. In parts of the state with low infection figures, no test or proof of vaccination are required. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

The rules on outdoor dining are set by the individual states, meaning the rules are subtly different in the various parts of the country.

Keep in mind that national rules prescribe that fully vaccinated people, and those who’ve recovered from Covid (within a certain time frame), do not have to show a negative Covid-19 test when tests are mandatory. They can show proof of their immunity.

READ ALSO: How do you prove you’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19?

Here’s a look at the situation across a handful of German states.

Hamburg

In Hamburg, which currently has a 7-day incidence of around 43 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the city has allowed restaurants to open up their outdoor dining areas starting on the Pentecost weekend.

Hamburg mayor Peter Tschentscher said that the city would not impose a test requirement on restaurants as the incidence rate is below 50, and he said there was only a low risk of being infected with the coronavirus outdoors.

In the port city only a maximum of five people from two households can sit at a table together.

Much like last summer, guests will have to leave their details with the restaurant for contact tracing purposes.

READ ALSO: Hamburg to open restaurants earlier than planned as incidence drops below 50 mark

Schleswig-Holstein

The northern state has some of the most relaxed rules on outdoor dining. Up to 10 people can sit at a table and there is no limit based on households.

Children younger than 14 plus fully vaccinated people and those who’ve had the virus in the past half year can also sit at the table.

Guests sitting outside don’t need to provide a negative test result. 

READ MORE: Where in Europe are Covid curfews and early closures still in place?

Berlin and Brandenburg

In Berlin, where restaurants, cafes and bars can open up outdoors starting on Friday, diners will have to provide a negative test result from the last 24 hours, or must show that they have been fully vaccinated or recovered from the virus.

In Brandenburg, where restaurants are also opening up for Pentecost, guests need to provide a negative test result if they are not fully vaccinated.

A restaurant in Brandenburg prepares on Friday morning to welcome guests again.

READ ALSO: How you can visit a bar in Berlin from Friday

Bavaria

Things are a bit complicated in Bavaria.

In districts with a 7-day incidence between 50 and 100 you don’t need to show a negative test result if you only sit with your own household. 

But meetings with a second household mean that a test result is required. For an antigen test the result needs to be no more than 24 hours old. For a PCR test it can be up to 48 hours old.

At an incidence lower than 50 guests don’t need to provide a negative test result. Between an incidence of 35 and 50 only two households and a maximum of five people can sit at one table. Below an incidence of 35, three households and a maximum of 10 people can sit at one table.

North Rhine-Westphalia

In North Rhine-Westphalia non-vaccinated guests at restaurants will have to provide a negative test that was conducted in the past 48 hours. This can be a PCR test or an antigen test, but the antigen test needs to have been done in a test centre or at a pharmacy – not a self administered test.

Hesse

In the central German state of Hesse restaurants that open for outdoor dining need to ask non-vaccinated and recovered guests to provide a negative test result. All guests have to give their details for contact tracing.

Guests already made a reservation for breakfast at a restaurant in Bad Nauheim, Hesse on Friday morning to mark the reopening of outdoor dining. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

READ MORE: Outdoor dining and swimming pools: How Berlin plans to reopen in May

Saxony

As of Wednesday, restaurants in the eastern state have been allowed to reopen outside, with guests requiring a negative test from the past 24 hours. The inside areas can also reopen once there is a 7-day incidence of under 50 for five days in a row.

Saarland

Restaurants and cafes will be allowed to reopen indoors starting on May 31st to guests with a negative test. In districts of the French border state with a 7-day incidence under 100, outdoor dining is already open. The state became well known around the Easter holidays for the ‘Saarland model’, which allowed for mass openings when this figure was reached.

Bremen

On Tuesday, the harbour city-state senate decided that restaurants and bars would be allowed to reopen their outdoor seating areas on Friday.

Guests will be allowed until 11 pm, as long as they have a negative coronavirus test from the same day. But as soon as the 7-day incidence drops below 50, this is no longer required. Guests are – and will remain – required to register via an app, such as luca.

Saxony-Anhalt

Starting on Tuesday, indoor dining can open in cities or counties with a 7-day incidence of under 100 for five days in a row. As with elsewhere, strict hygiene rules will apply, such as mask wearing and showing a negative test.

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