When people try to think of Polish vegetarian food, they may be hard pressed. Central Europe cuisine tends to be associated heavily with meat and bread, and vegetarian dishes do not easily spring to mind. However I found plenty of tasty options when I travelled Poland as a vegetarian. This is my experience of Polish vegetarian food across the two weeks I’ve spent in the country. It is by no means an exhaustive list of Polish vegetarian options, rather a personal report on what I tried there. Use it to make your own choices and help with your own trip.
In the big cities, there are plenty of restaurants that have vegetarian options. It seems vegan restaurants are on the rise too, and I spotted several when I was in Poland. Outside of the cities your options may be more limited, but you should still have at least a few vegetarian or vegan choices. You can see where I visited here in my Poland 2 week itinerary.
I do however recommend checking with the staff when ordering to make sure the food is vegetarian. I saw very few menus which actually specified when a dish was vegetarian. Generally you can find English translations of the ingredients, especially in the tourist areas, but personally I prefer to be sure. English is widely spoken in the cities and tourist areas in Poland, and I personally didn’t have a problem communicating dietary needs at all.
Traditional Polish Food
Whilst Poland does have an array of traditional dishes, these are the vegetarian ones I have personally tried in the country.
A popular food you will find all over Poland is Pierogi. It is a type of filled dumping, and it’s delicious! Whilst meat is often used as a filling, many versions are vegetarian. Cabbage and mushrooms is a good combination to go for. I also frequently saw potato and onion, various cheese combos and other types of vegetables. This was my go to food of choice when I was travelling as a vegetarian in Poland.
If you can, try baked Pierogi whilst in Poland. It’s not something I saw in many places but it is really good! It seemed to be available more in the restaurants aimed at tourists, for example I saw it in Toruń and in Warsaw’s old town.
This sour soup is mainly made from beetroot and is a great dish to have along with Pierogi. Generally it is given to you in a cup, which you can drink it from. The drink in the picture is Kompot, a traditional Polish drink made of water, fruits and sugar. You will also note a side of coleslaw – it’s a popular salad to accompany Polish dishes. The borscht pictured below was fairly thick, however I also tried thinner versions too.
These are Polish Potato Pancakes. I tried some with salad and sour cream and really enjoyed them. The latter seems to be the traditional ‘sauce’ they are served with.
A popular street food, this is essentially a toasted half of a baguette, with toppings and sauce. The classic toppings are mushrooms and cheese, with tomato ketchup.
Sometimes you can find different options. A great place to try Zapiekanki is in Kraków‘s Jewish quarter, Kazimierz. Here the kiosks offer lots of different topping choices.
Bakeries – Breakfast and Sweet Treats
When travelling around Poland I found bakeries everywhere. Donuts seem to be a big deal here, I saw lots on offer. The few I tried were very good too! And for breakfast there was no shortage of pastry options, such as croissants and eclairs. Often the croissants are available with a variety of different fillings. My personal favourite of those which I tried was a pistachio croissant. Chocolate is a popular choice, as well as various jams.
Italian – Pizza and Pasta
As with much of Europe, Italian food is common in Poland. So if you eat cheese, then as a vegetarian you have the option of Pizza in many places you will visit. Pasta is found a lot too, though I didn’t see it quite as much as pizza. I came across a mix of restaurants and takeaways, all selling pizza at a reasonable price.
Falafel and Vegab
Whilst I didn’t see it as much as in some other European countries, falafel is a good vegetarian option in Poland, as it is in many places. Try kebab shops to see what they do, though ensure it is a vegetarian option. If you are in Kraków be sure to check out Mazaya Falafel, it’s really good. They have a few different locations, check them at: https://mazaya-falafel.com/restauracje/
Vegab is a vegan restaurant/takeaway I found in Kraków. They also have a branch in Poznań. As the name suggests, they do vegan versions of kebabs. I highly recommend a getting a meal for one of these places if you are in the vicinity, its very good! You can check out their website for more information: https://www.vegab.pl/en/
Soups – Including Soup Culture
You will regularly see soup on the menu in Poland, and there are usually vegetarian options available. I’ve mentioned Borscht already, but you should be able to find other vegetarian option too. For example I saw tomato and noodle soup on several menu’s. As I mentioned earlier though, check with staff to confirm if the dish is vegetarian or not.
In particular I want to highlight a franchise food place called Soup Culture. They seem to be all vegetarian and vegan choices, and are currently found in Kraków, Poznan and Wrocław. They also have places in Ukraine, Slovakia, Czechia and more. Have a look at the locations here. I tried the one in Wrocław. It was pretty good as a quick takeaway option, and actually comes in an edible cup!
Zabka and Biedronka
These 2 places are where I bought snacks whilst in Poland. Zabka is a convenience store that is found all across the country. Often in the cities you will see several as you walk around, sometimes surprisingly near to each other. I used them to pick up snacks like chocolate, crisps and nuts, as well as to buy drinks. A cheaper option is the supermarket chain Biedronka. This shop is a good one to go to for supplies if you are planning to cook any meals whilst in Poland. They have a much larger selection than Zabka, and for cheaper prices too. If you are not panning to cook but want to buy fruit or cereal bars then I recommend finding a Biedronka.
Polish Vegetarian Food – My Conclusions
Overall I think Poland is a good country for vegetarians to travel around. I didn’t have a problem in the cities finding vegetarian food, and I think outside of them there are enough classic Polish dishes to suffice. I really enjoyed eating a lot of Pierogi and I found it generally to be of a high standard. I’m sure there are other Polish vegetarian food options I haven’t included too, and I’m exited to go back in the future and give an update!