Once the novelty of fried cheese has worn off and the urge for variety re-emerges, eating in Prague as a vegetarian – or, for that matter, anyone with special food requirements, be it vegan, gluten intolerant, or with other allergies – can at first glance seem somewhat of a bleak prospect. But although your local pub is unlikely to be boldly reaching new heights of alternative culinary excellence, your local supermarket or grocers may well be. Shops that specialize in vegan, vegetarian, bio and gluten-free products are springing up everywhere, and if you know where to look, you´ll find yourself whipping up those culinary masterpieces yourself in no time.
Supermarkets often have an OK selection of vegetarian and vegan foods – Delvita is one of the best, with a good health food section and tofu and soy based fake meat almost always in stock, and Interspar is also pretty good. Tesco is a little more unreliable – you´ll always find the weird looking and somewhat disturbingly realistic tasting rehydrateable packets of faux soy meat in the health food section, but there´s often no tofu or soy based yogurts, desserts or cheeses, and only a few gluten-free products. Your local grocery store or potraviny can also be a good source of specialty foods, which are often just mixed in with all the other meat and dairy filled options. Look out for brands like Vitall, Provamel, Kalma, Granovita, Sojafit, Sivo, and Sunfoods which all do good vegan versions of yoghurts and desserts, as well as tofu, fake meats and veggie burgers and organic products. Provamel guarantees that all its products are nut free, so this is one to look out for by people with allergies.
Eating gluten-free can be a little tricky, but most health food shops stock flours, crispbreads and other items that are ok for celiacs. The symbol for gluten free is a wheat stalk with a cross through it, but this does not actually guarantee that it is completely safe – wheat starch is allowed in these products, so bring your reading glasses and check those labels to be absolutely sure! Most supermarkets have three types of gluten-free crispbreads available, made from rice, corn, and a corn- rice-vegetable mix, but getting fresh bread is a hassle, as no bakeries seem to produce it regularly. However, Diana Svět Oříšků at Vocelova 606, Praha 2 has fresh gluten free bread every Monday, baked by LS Zetis bakery at Husitska 35, Prague 3, one of the only in Prague to make it – fresh bread has to be ordered a few days in advance if you want to get it from the LS Zetis itself.
Diabetics shouldn´t have any problem finding appropriate foods – many people in the Czech Republic have diabetes and almost every supermarket has sections that cater especially for them. Look out for ‘dia´ in the name – it usually indicates that it´s ok.
When you´re outside the cozy confines of the health food shop and in the big, bad world of supermarket shopping, it pays to be able to decipher the ingredients and labeling of the food you´re going to buy. Many´s the time that an innocuous looking packet of tomato soup or jar of vegetable pasta sauce is found to be positively wallowing in chicken, fish, shellfish and nuts when one reads the fine print. To help negotiate the mine field, here is a guide to Czech ingredients to watch out for – remember that the forms of the words might deviate slightly on the packet, but they´re almost always still recognizable.
meat – maso
beef – hovězí
chicken – kuře
fish – ryba (see the allergies section for more seafood ingredients)
pork – vepřové
lamb – skopové jehněčí
anchovy – ančovička
shrimp – garnát
tuna – tuňák
oyster – ústřice
ham – šunka
bacon – slanina, uzenina (not uzený, this just means ‘smoked‘)
animal fat – živočišný tuk
rennet – syřidlo
gelatine – želatina
aspic – aspik
egg – vejce
egg white – albumin
dairy – mléčný
milk – mléko
cheese – sýr
yogurt – jogurt
honey – med
butter – máslo
whey – syrovátka
FOR CELIACS/GLUTEN INTOLERANT
gluten free – bezlepkový
gluten – lepek
flour – mouka
wheat – pšenice
rye – žito
barley – ječmen
oats – oves
wheat starch – pšeničný škrob
corn starch – kukuřičný škrob
potatoes – brambory
rice – rýže
buckwheat – pohanka
millet – jáhly
corn – kukuřice
soy – soja
OTHER ALLERGIES -this list isn’t exhaustive, so if you are extremely allergic to the ingredients listed below, you’ll need to double check with a doctor for a more complete list.
Peanut – arašíd, burský oříšek, burák
Nuts – ořech, oříšek
Shellfish – korýš, měkkýš
Lactose – mlečný cukr
There are many, many health food shops in Prague that specialize in vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and bio goods. Country Life is the most prominent, with many branches dotted about Prague. Here are a few more to whet your appetite.
Vitall Centrum, Revoluční 14, Prague 9 – vegetarian, vegan, gluten free
Zdravé žití U tří růží, Soukenická 21, Prague 1 – vegetarian, vegan
Alafia, Krymská 43, Prague 10 – vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, cosmetics and small bookshop and gallery
Vegall, Poliklinika Budějovická, Antala Staška 80, Prague 4 – vegetarian, vegan, gluten free
Meduňka, Na Hrázi 21, Prague 8 – vegetarian, vegan, bio, gluten free
U Tamary, Ortenovo nám 28, Prague 7 – vegetarian, vegan, fresh vegetarian foods, gluten free, natural cosmetics, vitamins.
Nature Life, Na Petřinách 82, 162 00 Prague 6 – vegetarian, gluten free, diabetic
Obchůdek zdravé výživy, Sázavské 9, Prague 2 – macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free
Dia potraviny PPL, Starostrašnická 38, Praha 10 – vegetarian, vegan, bio, gluten free, diabetic.
Dobré Zboží, Žitomírské 17 Prague 10 – bio fruit and vegetables, vegetarian/vegan, diabetic
Bio Market Vítek, Vinohradská 53, Prague 2 – vegetarian, vegan, bio.