The vöner

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The voner, berlin

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.

11 thoughts on “The vöner”

  1. Oh no! We had missed the vöner last summer when we spent some time in Berlin but I was going to try it next time we’re in town… now I am not too sure about it anymore 😀

  2. I guess even without the meat you got to have the full kebab experience… 😉

    In all seriousness, Tony & I have eaten a ton of super sketchy street meat all over Asia and almost never been sick from it. And yet in Nepal, where we pretty much ate vegetarian 95% of the time, we were the sickest we have ever been. Sometimes we find eating all-veg meals mentally comforting when ingredients or hygiene is suspect, and yet our past experiences suggest those are the ones we need to be the most leery of!

  3. Judging from the photo and your first few paragraphs, I thought I had stumbled upon the greatest invention since the cheese soufflé, only to have my dreams dashed by your bowel’s misguided abandon… Damn it.

  4. Oh I found the kebabs in Berlin to be one of the best I’ve had anywhere! Don’t let it put you off. I loooove a good kebab but it requires a lot of umming and ahhing over the one place to go and then more time deciding which one to get.

  5. That’s such a shame! Kebabs are generally so much better in Germany and Austria than in the UK (I wouldn’t dream of touching one in London), and indeed, vegetarian versions are not that hard to find there, though a vegan one does sound quite special. Too bad it made you sick.

  6. Proof that I have been living abroad for too long: I grew up close to Berlin, am vegetarian and have never heard of “vöner” before… Need to make sure to try it once I’m back home for a wee visit, so thanks for sharing! A pity that you had such a big experience, because these usually are the most memorable ones… :S

  7. I’m sorry it made you so sick! But it does look delicious. I’m always seeking out new vegan food for when I travel (we’re both vegan!) so hopefully we don’t stumble upon anything that makes us ill! I’ve been a vegetarian for my whole life and have never had food poisoning….don’t want to ever have it!

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