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In Berlin we achieved something extraordinary.
It centers around a kebab.
Döners are a staple of British life, normally ingested around 1am with a side order of cheesy chips, and an after-effect of sickness. Whether the nausea comes from the meat itself or its concoction with copious alcohol is hard to define, but the term “dodgy kebab” is most well known.
Twelve years as a vegetarian has meant I’ve been able to largely avoid this cultural phenomenon – the stick of packed meat rotating on a vertical spit – a Russian roulette for your stomach.
I was happy in my ignorance, until one day I happened upon a vöner.
The vöner is a vegan version of the döner found in the student district of Berlin. Steve and I actively sought it out. We’d heard that kebabs are even bigger in Berlin than in the UK, and are widely believed to have been invented there by a Turkish-born German named Kadir Nurman. Keen to try any local specialties, we headed for the vöner.
“Delicious” was the verdict. “This will make the perfect fast food comfort stop if we live here”. We were delighted with our discovery.
Five hours later and that verdict was upturned. We were sick – really sick for around 12 hours straight. The kind of sick you might expect when travelling in the far reaches of the world, but not so much in a Western European capital city.
We had surpassed ourselves, Not only did we find a vegan version of the ubiquitous dönor kebab, we also managed to find a dodgy one.
Disclaimer: A few people recommended the vöner to us and none of them got sick. We were likely just unlucky.
More on Berlin
We ended up going back to Berlin for six months and fell head over heels in love with the city. Read about our digital nomad life in Berlin.