Many vegan restaurants in Amsterdam struggling with rising costs

Vegan businesses in Amsterdam are facing tough times. In the past month alone, eight business owners have closed in the city, Het Parool reported on Tuesday. Rising costs are among the problems in the vegan food and hospitality industry.

Filipa (37), chef of the Soil Vegan Café in Amsterdam-Oost, said workers from recently closed restaurants turned to her restaurant. “We’ve had a lot of CVs recently, that says a lot,” she told the NL Times. The restaurant where she works opened in 2022, like many others. It’s a recent phenomenon: since 2019, vegan restaurants in Amsterdam have been springing up like mushrooms. The city now has about 70.

This oversaturation exacerbates the difficulties of running a vegan restaurant, with these businesses also struggling due to high inflation. Gijsbregt Brouwer, food trend watcher and founder of, explained that the market for this type of food remains limited. “Vegan restaurants have a much smaller target audience, so if the general restaurant landscape gets tougher, a vegan restaurant is hit even harder,” he told the NL Times.

According to the Dutch Vegan Association (NVV), the number of vegans in the Netherlands has increased from 45,000 in 2014 to around 260,000 in 2020. This represents 1.5% of the Dutch population. According to a report by the Municipality of Amsterdam, 10% of Amsterdam residents say they never eat fish or meat, and 4% adhere to an all-vegetable diet.

Filipa argued that to survive, a vegan business must attract both vegan and non-vegan customers, given the limited number of people who stick to a plant-based diet. “We offer dishes that everyone knows, like burgers, noodles and bitterballen, but all vegan. That helps a lot.” She noted that this approach helps attract customers who might be skeptical of vegan food, as most of them order these classics the first time they eat at a vegan restaurant. “You have to be friendly,” she remarked.

It’s not just vegan food companies that are in dire straits. Last week, the Vanderveen restaurant in Amsterdam closed just a month after earning its first Michelin star. Despite the prestigious recognition, the restaurant has faced insurmountable challenges, including debt incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic. The owner told the NL Times that maintaining a restaurant these days has become increasingly difficult. “That’s the reality today,” he remarked.

“Being in the hospitality industry is tough,” Brouwer said. “Especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, many are in debt and with rising costs, it’s harder to get people to come to your restaurant because of the higher prices and restaurant margins have shrunk even further.”

However, he does not believe that the current situation spells the end of plant-based restaurants. “There will always be vegan restaurants, but few compared to the number of people following a vegan diet,” he said. A good sign for the sector is that vegan food is becoming increasingly popular. “We’re seeing more vegetarian and vegan options on ‘regular’ restaurant menus, from fast-food chains to upscale fine-dining restaurants.”

Filipa also expressed her optimism about the future, noting that restaurants offering an all-plant-based menu are gaining more acceptance. “People go to vegan restaurants like they would go to any other restaurant, just to enjoy good food, not necessarily because it’s vegan,” she said.

“A vegan restaurant may be slightly more expensive, but in the end it’s just another restaurant,” she added.

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