Life In Berlin: Being Vegan In Berlin
Veganism is not a new lifestyle, but due to the recent popularity of animal-free products, Berlin is seen by some as a vegan paradise. Restaurants and bakeries that provide vegan alternatives to burgers, chicken nuggets, pizza, and cupcakes are easy to find.
But veganism is more than just about what one eats.
For Steffen Totz, one of the owners within the vegan collective Dr. Pogo, his choice stems from pacifism.
“For me it’s mostly a thing of my non-violent beliefs. I think when it’s possible to avoid being violent and behave violent in this world, it’s a good thing to let it be.”
Dr. Pogo runs as a cooperative. Every employee has an equal say in how the company is run; this creates a more intimate environment and helps with vegan outreach.
“You have this personal contract between the people running the shop and the customers. And it’s a little bit more slow than maybe bigger shops.”
Noticeably in places like Veganz, a vegan supermarket chain, or Vego, a vegan fast food location on Lausitzer Strasse, the clientele tend to be interested in various subcultures.
What is the link?
Caro Berry, the mastermind behind Minor Treat, a pop-up vegan bakery, speculates.
“I think that a lot of people reach veganism through other activist movements. And because most activists are part of the alternative to mainstream society, inevitably the two sort of become inextricably linked.”
One misconception about veganism is that it is exclusively about animal abuse, or the rejection of products made from, or tested on, animals. Caro from Minor Treat points out:
“Animal abuse isn’t the form of oppression. Speciesism is. The obvious course of action, then, is to be vegan. There are a subset of vegans who aren’t in any way political and aren’t actually associated with a subculture because they see it as something that is very stand-alone and isn’t politically motivated. It’s just 'I don’t want to hurt an animal.'”
These differences just highlight the fact that Berlin's vegan community is diverse and alive.
Steffen observes these differences within his store, Dr. Pogo.
“The vegan culture in Berlin has a very broad variety. They’re not all environmentalists, they are not all animal rights activists. It’s more or less a decision which is made by several different movements.”
Caro contemplates what is the true alternative.
“Really we’re only looking at processed foods and vegan alternatives, so we are kind of like removing discussion about all of the naturally vegan produce that is available everywhere in the world.”
Though different in concept, both Dr. Pogo and Minor Treat inform and expand the vegan movement in Berlin.