Banja Luka

Vegan and Vegetarian Eating in Bosnia & Herzegovina

02 Mar 2020
Like all articles about vegetarian food in the Balkans, this one shall start with a sentence about how difficult it is. That opening gambit will be followed by a comment about grilled meat, possibly with reference to rakija and social eating, maybe something about history, ‘east meets west’ and the whole ‘crossroads’ thing. This will transition into a slightly more positive tone, talking about the emergence of a vegetarian eating scene in the country, possibly with a slightly condescending reference to the war and a phrase that includes the word ‘emerging’. Hey presto, you’ve got your article!

Being vegetarian in Bosnia & Herzegovina isn’t difficult, unless you are expecting gourmet cuisine on every corner. If that is the case, Bosnia & Herzegovina isn’t for you — stick to London, New York, Paris and the rest. Or Dubrovnik, maybe stick to Dubrovnik. Avoiding meat in the country is simple, but a little assistance navigating never hurt anyone.

Veg-minded restaurants

There aren’t many restaurants in the country that entirely eschew meat, and rightly so. One shoe does not fit all feet, and all that jazz. A small roster of herbivore-heavy spots have opened around the country, with Sarajevo and Banja Luka unsurprisingly acting as the busiest playgrounds. The latter particularly shines (as it does in most ways), with Healthy and Aj’Zdravo taking special care to offer a varied and exciting menu. In the capital, Zdravo opened a couple of years ago and has taken modern-minded men and women by storm, serving up vegan food in immensely stylish surroundings.

Outside of the two big cities, restaurants that focus largely on vegetarians are hard to find. Mostar’s Teco deserves all the applause, not just for its vegan-friendly food but also for its commitment to a non-smoking interior, itself an uphill battle in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Food House is found a little closer to the centre and has long been the standard-bearer for a good vegetarian offer in magical Mostar, serving delicious food in an idyllic setting. This isn’t just ‘grilled vegetables’ and ‘cheese plates’, this is seriously good vegetarian food.

Options and logic

‘There’s nowhere to eat if you’re a vegetarian in Bosnia & Herzegovina’. Nonsense, absolute nonsense. The words of a defeatist, to say the least. Bosnia & Herzegovina is home to an ever-increasing number of excellent pizzerias, for example. Pizza is magnificent, an international dish to be treasured, and there are plenty of places in and around the country that are doing a damn fine job at serving pies. Impero Romano in Banja Luka might just be our favourite, although Pizzeria City (Bihać), Pizza Bar (Tuzla), Mozart (Foča) and Palazzo (Bosanska Krupa) all deserve attention. To keep a long story short, you can’t go wrong with pizza, a statement that is true no matter the reason for its utterance. 

Bosnia & Herzegovina’s commitment to bakeries should also give you lots of reason to cheer. Keep an eye out for that magical word, PEKARA (or ПЕКАРА, if you’re in Republika Srpska) and you’ll enter a world of magical pastries, from the various types of pita and burek that are available (we’re particularly fond of krompirača, potato pie) to the slices of pizza, bread and more. It is another of those unwritten rules of travelling in the Balkans — when in doubt, pekara. 

It almost goes without saying that the number of vegetarian-specific restaurants in Bosnia and Herzegovina is going to grow in years to come. The demand is increasing all the time and the bigger towns and cities are embracing it, although many people are still confused as to why such distinctions must be made. For the time being, these are the places we seek out when there’s a need for a meat-free meal. 

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