Veganism. It used to evoke visions of Prince, of angry students obsessed by the scandalousness of leather shoes and also a bit of the pale, lightly fermented humans you sometimes encounter in your local organic grocery store. But hey, the times they are a’ changin. Look at the Try Vegan campaign.
It wants to raise awareness of what plant based food can mean nowadays and the reasons we have to eat eat more plants. A lot of reasons, it turns out. To begin with, there’s the environmental footprint of animal products. Consequences of the meat- and dairy industry are serious: from CO2- and methane emissions to pollution and deforestation.
Then there’s the obvious animal suffering caused by our large scale consumption of meat, milk and cheese. Not to mention diseases like diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer, linked to the consumption of red meat.
We discovered two vegan eateries in Ghent and learned the following:
-eating vegan and have a sense of humor is entirely possible
-kids love to have their (dairyfree) cake and eat it
-plants are damn delicious
Foodstorms pop-up in NEST
On the highest floor of the former library in the south of Ghent – now replaced by the cool new building of De Krook – chef Kevin Storms and his team serve up plant-based great food.
‘So no chicken with applesauce? And no Bolognese?’ our kids ask with slight melancholy. We didn’t tell them much about our lunchspot,, which gives us an important strategic advantage: they didn’t have the time to think it through and protest. Once seated, the only thing they can think of is they are hungry and want to eat. Even if it’s vegan.
The menu is filled with wholesome stuff like pumpkin soup, mushroom toast, pasta with leeks and nuts, seitan stew with baked potato, broccoli and a salad with beetroot. Felix goes for the pasta. With Mirtha and Lucy we make a deal: we order one of each dishes so they can try everything and assemble their own plate.
This procedure turns out quite a successful one: it leads to lots of ‘mmmms’, ‘pass me the beetroot please?’ en ‘wow, delicious.’ The final judgment comes from Felix, notorious Lover of Meat: ‘I could … ‘ (we hold our breath) ‘eat this a few days a week.’
While we enjoy the beautiful view over the city with a local fermented drink called Yugen, the kids explore the place. They have a blast, discovering floating books and trying out the fascinating toilets of the old library. Shockingly, they don’t even worry about dessert.
We humans cannot survive on veggies alone, so for dessert we head to the guiltfree bakery of Madam Bakster. Her coffeehouse is a local hub for ‘healthy, sugar free and vegan desserts’, so we decide it’s the perfect spot to test the phenomenon of vegan cake.
Quite a delicious phenomenon, is our conclusion. ‘It’s different’, the kids say, ‘not what we expected, but still … very good.’ On our plates: Camille (lemon and avocado), Raymond (chocolate and raspberry), Naomi (matcha and yoghurt) and Ludo (caramel and chocolate).
All this accompanied by hot chocolate (with almond milk) and matcha latte, which gives us the feeling of total harmony with the zeitgeist. Probably like people felt in the nineties when they had a bite of sun-dried tomato.
Coffee house of Madam Bakster, Brabantdam 142 in 9000 Ghent. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10-18.
Fancy more tips for things to do with kids in Ghent? Be sure to check out the wonderful graffiti tour in the city.