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Plant Base
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Plant Base

30/07/2021Emily EricksonEmily Erickson

A vegan café by day, an event space by night… and a small bookstore in between. Great coffee, delicious food, interesting workshops and plenty of food for thought await you at Plant Base!

The vegan food and educational hub is a brunch-lover’s paradise - you’ll find some of Berlin’s finest tofu scramble and ‘cheesefakes’ that will keep you coming back for more.

We’re telling you - their mochas and croissants are worth crossing the city for, no matter the weather!

Creator (and doggo mum) Marika Netzel started Plant Base as a vegan pop-up school over three years ago, and went on to launch their cafe in 2019. Not even the C-word could keep Marika and her team from having an incredibly successful first year in business!

We spoke with Marika about challenging diet culture, helping people bring veganism into their home, and her love of spice mixes…

What inspired you to launch Plant Base?

Berlin is a very vegan-friendly city, but some might struggle with staying vegan once they go home and need to cook for themselves. So, Plant Base was created to teach people how to become and stay vegan - from theory to practice.

That's why it was first a pop-up school that offered events all around veganism - a vegan book club, screenings, nutrition talks, discussion panels and cooking classes. Then the cafe followed, to give one home to all those events and serve delicious food, coffee and cakes too.

How long have you been vegan and what inspired you to make the transition?

It's been a while already…long enough for me to forget the taste of the nonvegan foods! I remember reading a lot of books on societal structures and social cognitive theory and somehow came across one about animal rights and the treatment of animals.

I've always been big on justice and considered myself an animal lover. Once I realized my own bias I felt (going vegan) was the only right thing for me to do. I went vegan right away and was happy to finally have my actions fully aligned with my beliefs.

Where do you get your menu inspiration from?

We all are absolute foodies! We love everything about food - its origins, cultures it comes from, and pairing flavours together. We are inspired by humble ingredients like spices (we love spice mixes!), seasons, cuisines, tastes some vegans might miss, and flavors that are simply awesome.

We always want to offer something more, something that isn't yet in Berlin or not that easy to find.

What’s been your biggest challenge running a fully vegan business?

I love working with like-minded people who share similar values. It's hard to find ethical vegans that are looking for a job and work professionally in the food industry. It’s an industry that is still very dependent on non-vegan foods. But the biggest challenge is actually changing the limiting idea that veganism is only a diet.

We don't subscribe to diet culture and are not really into labeling foods as healthy, unhealthy, junk, clean etc. For us, vegan means not only plant-based but most importantly fair, ethical and liberating, so we don't really want to be expected to serve certain type of food just because we are a vegan place.

What are your thoughts on the current vegan landscape in Berlin and Germany in general?

I’m not sure about Germany, but Berlin is definitely a great city for vegan food and activism. I do feel it's something omni-present here but again, I'd like the vegan practice to stick with people once they get back home, too.

It seems the city and its businesses love to capitalize on the concept of veganism but are not yet ready to practice it fully as a moral stance. For example, offering vegan options, but cooked together with nonvegan dishes, or using the hashtags #veganfood or #fullyvegan but having coffee with dairy or salad with an egg.

It's surely convenient for vegans and attractive for customers, but also confusing and far from the vegan line of thinking. That's why fully vegan, ethical and consistently anti-oppression businesses are so crucial! Food is and always will be political, afterall.

Any big plans for the future of Plant Base?

Yes! We are always up to something, but so I don’t jinx it, I'll keep it a secret. For those who want to be up to date with everything we do - sign up to our newsletter and follow us on socials!

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Is pasta with daily changing sauce considered one dish? If so, I vote pasta! Or pizza, or maybe Mì Quảng soup….

Plant Base

Plant Base

Prenzlauer Berg

All things vegan under one roof. A vegan café by day, an event space in the evenings and a small bookstore in the meantime... which means great coffee, delicious food, yummy cakes, interesting workshops and plenty of food for thought.

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Emily Erickson

Emily Erickson

CONTENT WRITER

Amateur latte artist, bookworm, and stationary-lover with an (unhealthy?) addiction to true-crime podcasts.




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