Earlier this summer, there were rumors of a vegan superstore opening in Prague. While All Vegan Potraviny can’t exactly be categorized as such, it certainly has enough to recommend it.
Opened in late September 2013 by the same people who brought the Loving Hut chain of vegan restaurants to the Czech Republic, Vegan Potraviny also houses a small buffet where you can choose from wholesome dishes like wobbly bean curd and pumpkin, lentil and carrot stir-fry, and raw desserts. (Take away is, unforunately, served in styrofoam clamshells which to me seem out of place in a store that supports green causes!)
The tiny shop maintains the sparse appearance of a Czech potraviny, even though it lacks the classic staples of maso, máslo, mléko.
The vegans, vegetarians, and just plain healthy eaters who frequent Country Life or any of the other “bio” shops in town will be on familiar ground at Vegan Potraviny, where you can purchase a wide range of CL-branded alternative oils (hemp, coconut) for cooking, alternative sweeteners (agave, plum, and maple syrups) for baking, sacks of alternative flours (chickpea, corn, rice), and a variety of dried grains, lentils, and beans. Prices are a bit higher but many of the items comes in larger quantities, a bonus for those gluten-free Czech traditionalists in search of a 1-kg bag of pea-based breading for their soy řízky.
Still, there are some surprises in store. When asked to name the shop’s bestseller, the cashier directed me to a freezer case stocked with the Fry’s Family Kitchen line of cruelty-free vegan frozen foods. I bought a 4-pack of Spicy Asian Burgers (130 CZK) and a 4-pack of Golden Crumbed Schnitzels (130 CZK). I wouldn’t recommend the vegan burgers: sweet and spicy, and not in a good way, they also proved a bit insubstantial for the price. The schnitzels were a winner and actually tasted like veal, though I’m fairly positive that that won’t be a huge selling point for most vegans.
Fry’s hails from South Africa; another marquee product, the craft soft drink Fritz-kola, comes from Germany. Given the number of small-batch Czech beverages entering the market, I was a bit surprised that more of the local brands weren’t represented, although I did buy a True Tea Yerba Maté (34 CZK) – and always do whenever I come across them.
A number of other healthful Czech-made products caught my eye. Krup Si (39 CZK/package) are puffed discs of whole wheat, buckwheat, or jasmine rice the size of a 45 record. These Czech-made munchies come in sweet and savory flavors including pizza, garlic, and cinnamon. If you have a little one at home Krup Si make really nice snacks. A new Alfabio tofu with a hint of chili (25 CZK) cooked up nicely in stir-fry.
Of course, most vegans will be less interested in German soda pop and foods in burger form and more interested in finding replacements for things like dairy and eggs.
I recently started baking vegan treats for my small daughter and have yet to come across a gluten-free egg replacer beyond applesauce and bananas. Orgran egg replacer (68 CZK) did well in frittata and banana bread. Need a topping for your egg-free, gluten-free, dairy-free dessert? Soyatoo Rice Whip and Soy Whip are conveniently located on a neighboring shelf.
For those of you who like their milk minus the cow, the assortment of non-dairy “milk” drinks at Vegan Potraviny including chocolate quionoa and sweet orzo will please. Soayade organic yogurt is available in an assortment of fruity flavors (79 CZK/400 g) as is a margarine style Sojola spread (86 CZK/500 g).
But perhaps the standout vegan purchase for me was the melty “Sheese”. My biggest investment of the day was in a 270-g block of dairy-free smoked cheddar (92 CZK). Vegan Potraviny sells a number of “Sheese” products from mozzarella and gouda to cream “Sheese”. This size yielded a large amount of surprisingly creamy homemade macaroni and “sheese” (admittedly the next day’s reheat was on the crispy side.)
On a second visit to All Vegan Potraviny the shelves had thinned considerably, though I was told by the same cashier that the buffet does a great lunchtime business and is quite often sold out by noon. Regardless, Vegans and the health concious who live or work in the neighborhood will be happy with this new addition to the growing choice of places to dine and shop well in Karlín.
It does just what a good convenience store should, offering the odd item you run out of midweek and, as only a Czech vegan potraviny would, schnitzel.
Fry’s Family Kitchen Spicy Asian Burgers (130 CZK)
Fry’s Family Kitchen Golden Crumbed Schnitzels (130 CZK)
True Tea Yerba Maté (34 CZK)
Krup Si (39 CZK/package)
Alfabio tofu with a hint of chili (25 CZK)
Orgran egg replacer (68 CZK)
Smoked Cheddar Sheese (92 CK)
Soyade organic yogurt (79 CZK/400 g)
All Vegan Potraviny
Metro B/C or Tram 3 or 8 to Florenc
Mon-Fri 09:00-18:00, Sat 09:00-13:00
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