Strangely, as of July 2018, even though there are over 1.7 million people in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, and only 240,000 people in Novi Sad, there are zero vegan restaurants in Belgrade, but at least five in Novi Sad.
Which means a city with less than 5 times the amount of people has more than 5 times the amount of vegan food.
I guess this is why the European Union awarded Novi Sad as the European Capital of Culture for 2021?
Probably not. But it is just one reason we decided to live there for three months. We got an apartment in the city centre and luckily all the vegan spots happened to be around there too.
This post includes all our best cruelty-free finds (and, at the bottom, a few we didn't find). It includes multiple-course restaurant experiences, quick take-away meals, farmers markets and everything in between. And actually, some of our favourites sit very comfortably in-between those categories.
Click here to see all the other cities we have lived in and have written similar guides for, or read on for Novi Sad's finest cruelty free food for travellers, tourists or veg-curious locals.
Futoška Pijaca - Produce Market
website | no facebook
Novi Sad is the capital of Vojvodina, a province in northern Serbia that is responsible for spreading the idea of organic farming throughout the country. Due to the climate, soil quality and history of the area, there are many small local, organic farms that grow a whole range of vegetables, fruits and berries that get sold at the various markets around Novi Sad.
I haven't been everywhere on earth yet, but Futoska Pijaca is the most legit produce market I've ever been to - it's a whole-food vegans paradise. This market was similar to the other farmers markets in the city that are not too far away, but this was the cheapest one we went to, the most central and had the best range. I believe that's 3/3.
Expect to find so many bananas to choose from, some that are still green and some that are ready to eat immediately, lots of different varieties of apples, an abundance of oranges and mandarines, containers and containers of dried fruits, boxes of deliciously fresh kiwi fruits, more spinach, other green veggies and herbs than you could ever carry, lots of big red cabbages, countless beautiful red and yellow peppers (capsicum), stacks upon stacks of potatoes, brightly coloured pumpkins, tomatoes and carrots, about seven different types of nuts and seeds (roasted and raw) and loads more fresh produce - too much to list - but I think you get the idea. You can see a lot of it in the video I made above.
Prices vary widely depending on what you buy, but unsurprisingly, food here was always much cheaper than any supermarkets we went into in the same area.
I lived in Novi Sad city centre for three months during winter and didn't see any watermelon, papaya or mangoes (which are all tropical fruits, so it's not too surprising), but other than that and sweet potatoes, which were readily available in supermarkets, Futoška Pijaca gave me all the fruit and veg I wanted - which was a lot considering nearly everything I ate came from these markets.
There is so much variety here that, even in winter, these markets really could be a whole-food (or raw) vegans one-stop shop.
I highly recommend the Mazafati dates that a couple different people sell here - they're imported from Iran and are some of the sweetest fruit you'll ever have. Some vendors try and sell them for more, but you shouldn't need to spend more than 150 dinars per 750g box. Just remember to open the container beforehand and have a look inside, to check you're not buying old product.
- All the fruit and veg you need
- Best prices
- Very central location
Mon - Fri: 6 AM to 6 PM
Saturday: 11 AM - 6 PM
Bananas Veggie & Raw Cuisine
no website | facebook
Bananas was my raw-food go-to in Novi Sad for when I wanted something light, nutritious and pre-made. They have a whole raw section on their menu including soups, salads, falafel, spaghetti, noodles and risotto - as well as an extensive cooked menu.
This daily menu item consists of vegan scrambled eggs with dried tomatoes, "explosion taste salad" and fresh wholemeal bread.
Bananas serves a daily special menu that varies, as well as raw and cooked cakes, sweets, soups, sandwiches, burgers and smoothies. They take good advantage of Serbias fresh, organic produce and, like most places on this list, prepare all the meals with fruit and veg that was bought earlier that day. Sometimes this means that certain meals aren't available, but their menu was so big this was never an issue.
There is a great dessert range displayed in a cabinet as soon as you enter, which also includes take-away-ready burgers and wraps. I stocked up with burgers from this cabinet before my 12 hour bus ride out of Serbia and was beyond pleased.
The staff at Bananas all spoke great English which made communicating all our orders a smooth and friendly process.
Every Sunday they had a live jazz band playing in the store for our enjoyment. The place is only just big enough to hold a band, which made for a great atmosphere inside the restaurant while not being too loud.
- Large menu
- Plenty of raw options
- Great dessert range
Mon-Fri - 9:00am-8:00pm
Sat - 11:00am-6:00pm
Rekalibracija - Healthy Street Food
Rekalibracija was the first place we ate from in Novi Sad, because our first hostel was just cross the road - and it certainly was a good introduction to Novi Sad's vegan food. We ended up trying almost everything on the menu over the course of a few months and none of it came close to disappointing us.
All the food at Rekalibracija (which is Serbian for "Recalibration") is not just tasty and quick food, but pretty healthy as well. It is all 100% vegan, mostly all based on whole foods and it's made to order, which means your meal might take five minutes to prepare, but it's always worth the wait once you taste that freshness.
The staff changed a few times during our stay, but were all lovely and friendly and spoke good English.
We think they had the best vegan burgers and fruit smoothies in the city here. The tofu burger was a highlight for us, but all their burgers are made with fresh 100% wholemeal bread (which we found to be very rare in Serbia) that is delivered fresh to the store daily, and they all contained a great combination of ingredients. I recommend the "Summer Love" smoothie to go with it, made with soy milk and ample berries.
Everything considered, Rekalibracija gets my vote for the best vegan food in Novi Sad.
Rekalibracija is conveniently located next to the farmers markets, so you can easily pop into Futoška Pijaca (featured above) and pick up some fresh organic produce while you wait for your healthy street food to be prepared fresh for you.
We met the owner a couple of times too while we were waiting for our food, and he's a very nice guy, even offering to help us find an apartment for our stay.
Dinar for dinar, your money really couldn't be better spent than at Rekalibracija. Highly recommended if you like delicious, wholesome food and don't mind not having a fancy area to eat it in.
- Friendliest staff
- Best value meals that dont compromise on taste
- No indoor seating - so it can get a bit chilly in winter.
- They also delivered to our apartment for about 190 RSD. Very reasonable.
Mon - Sat: 8 AM - 10 PM
Sunday: 2:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Most Pizza Places
We were pleasantly surprised to find out that vegan cheese is quite popular in Serbia. Dairy-free cheese was readily available at supermarkets for a very good price, and all pizza stores we went to had the option for vegan cheese as well.
In the west it's normal to be charged a dollar or two extra for vegan cheese because it's an expensive new novelty, but not in Serbia, here they include it at pizza stores for the standard menu price.
While there may be no "official" translation, in practice, "posno" translates from Serbian to English as "no meat, dairy or eggs." You can see the word posno on vegan items in the grocery store such as plant-based cheese and hummus, and you can ask the staff in restaurants if this meal is "posno" (pronounced easy like "poz-no") which saves a lot of time if they don't speak much English.
One family sized posno pizza, please.
This beautiful word "posno" exists because of the Orthodox Christian fasting periods that do not allow for consumption of any animal products. Yes, that means that the official religion of Serbia dictates that it's people should eat vegan for a month every year - and a lot of them do. Even if they do openly eat a lot of animals the rest of the year, the people we met admitted that they feel very light and healthy during their posno fasting periods.
So to sum up - in a weird way that makes it convenient for tourists, vegan food is built into Serbian culture and cuisine, which means, quite conveniently, that vegan cheese was available at all pizza stores we went to in Novi Sad. This makes eating out with non-vegans (if you're into that) exceptionally easy for everyone involved.
Salti - Vegan Fast Food
Apparently Salti is the first vegan place to offer vegan hot dogs and "cheese"burgers in Novi Sad. So good on them for making those meals available to the nice people of northern Serbia who don't want to kill animals to fill their stomachs.
Salti offers the famous burgers and sandwiches in a regular or spelt bun, various salad bowls with falafel, seitan or beans and avocado, other salad bar options, sides like onion rings and fries, a range of sauces made fresh in the store, drinks including a juice bar, and deserts.
You can buy in store for dine-in or take-away, or get delivery straight from their website or via phone.
Salti get's ingredients delivered to the store every day, so the bread, sauces, falafels are made fresh in-store the same day you buy them.
We found Salti to be great for what it is - vegan fast food. We just found it to be a little more oily and greasy than the other vegan places in Novi Sad... But, considering they advertise the restaurant as fast food, the quantity of oil shouldn't really surprise anyone.
Mon - Fri: 10 AM - 7 PM
Sunday: 11 AM - 4 PM
Vege and Vegan
Vegetarian, vegan options
Even if they do still support animal exploitation somewhat, Vege and Vegan still hosts a good selection of healthy vegan wholefoods. The daily menu is what we were all about - see their website for what's cooking today.
Every day you can choose between two main courses from their "daily menu" or you can order pre-prepared meals such as wraps and burgers, pasta and salads.
Vege and Vegan is located in a very central, easy to access spot - but it's only barely visible from the main road, you have to walk maybe 50m down a little alley. If you've been to Eastern Europe you will know these little alleys that I mean, they're pretty common.
Almost everything on the menu at Vege and Vegan is suitable for vegans, except some desserts, so just ask the staff to be sure.
Vege and Vegan has some nice desserts, including a raw chocolate cake.
Friendly staff, nice meals and desserts and almost entirely vegan... All in all, Vege and Vegan is a solid spot for meal, we would just just liked them to stay open for another couple hours at night.
Mon-Fri - 9:00am-8:00pm
Sat - 11:00am-7:00pm
Located right in the city centre is a carnistic Mexican restaurant called Tortilla Casa that caters to the cruelty-free quite nicely.
In the sense that you get to watch your meal being made and advise the staff member as to your chosen ingredients, Tortilla Casa is kind of like a Tex-Mex version of Subway. Here you choose a regular, spinach or chili flavoured wrap, watch it get prepared right in front of your eyes, then add all your toppings. They have black-beans as standard.
Who doesn't like burritos? Seeing it get made in front of you only makes you want it more... Just tell them to make it "posno" so they avoid the animal-exploitation.
There were a few things on the menu besides burritos, such as nachos and quesadillas that technically could be veganised also, but those meals kinda suck without cheese - and unlike pizza shops, Tortilla Casa did not seem to ever stock posno cheese.
So aside from their hearty black bean, rice and vegetable burrito, the only other appropriate food on the menu is their corn chips and guacamole dip. The burrito is a pretty good size in itself and I always preferred to just get the guacamole inside the burrito itself and hold on the corn chips.
Highly recommended if you want a tasty, quick burrito in Novi Sad, because you'll be hard pressed to find another place that sells them. Tortilla Casa do deliveries and you can order online through their website.
Sun - Thurs: 8:30 - 23:00
Fri - Sat: 8:30 - 1:00
Ananda runs on the same standard Eastern-European set up as Vege and Vegan does above: you can choose a daily menu or something off the menu, except Ananda is 100% vegan.
Here is an example (not picture above) of what you might find on their daily menu: broccoli cream soup, peppers (capsicum) stuffed with potatoes, lentils with balsamic vinegar, zucchini stew, homemade bread and salad. Sounds like a pretty damn good meal to me. Regular menu items such as sandwiches, pizza, falafel, desserts and drinks are also available.
Ananda is located in a pretty central spot, making it great for tourists. Every time we were here it was busier than most other places, so I would try to avoid peak-times if you want a more relaxing meal.
A selection of deserts and mains from Ananda. Which would you prefer?
Mon-Sat - 9:00am-6:00pm.
Novi Sad street art.
Some other places you might enjoy:
EmChi is a very highly rated vegetarian restaurant in Novi Sad that was unfortunately closed the entire 3 months we were there. It was recommended to us by a non-vegan local and has since reopened under a new name.
There are some juice bars around town that all seemed to have many vegan options, but I don't drink juice so I didn't try them.
And finally, since we left Novi Sad, a new all vegan restaurant opened up called Spot. They serve breakfast, lunch, smoothies, burgers, sandwiches, tofu dishes, salads, desserts and have pretty good reviews on their facebook.
PS. Most of the photos here were taken from the corresponding restaurants linked Facebook page or website, but we took a few of them.