It's easy to dismiss the lone vegan as a tofu-smoking weirdo but collectively, plant-based eaters are a pretty powerful bunch. Get more than three of them in a room and you've got a culinary tour de force. They'll lay siege against intolerant restaurants, demand that those who eat meat be compared to chain smokers, and whip up some admittedly impressive egg-free salad dressing costumes. It must be something in the chickpea water.
And as Germany recently discovered, when vegans gather for a party, things can get seriously out of hand.
Police had to be called to the opening of a new vegan restaurant in Berlin this weekend after hundreds of meat-free food fans descended on the venue, blocking traffic outside.
It all started when Dandy Diner—a new vegan eatery run, according to Fat Gay Vegan by "two fashion bloggers" in the city's Neukölln neighbourhood—decided to hold a launch event. Owners advertised their "grand opening" via Facebook and Instagram with the promise of "free burger & booze." The hope, as German news site The Local reports, was to attract the "young, beautiful people" of Berlin and "create buzz" surrounding the new restaurant.
It worked. The prospect of gorging on seitan burgers and fish gut-free beer gratis proved irresistible to Berlin's young and beautiful. After just 20 minutes, hundreds had gathered at Dandy Diner. According to Berlin newspaper Morgenpost, 300 hungry vegans were crammed into the restaurant, with a further 500 spilling outside onto Karl Marx Strasse, one of the main roads in Neukölln.
You can't say that isn't a "buzz."
Police were soon called to help disperse the horde of vegans. While Dandy Diner owners asked the cops to block traffic from entering the road so that their customers could wait for their meatless dishes without fear of being hit by a car, their request was flatly refused. Officers ordered the restaurant to shut down its vegan party immediately and told those standing outside to leave.
A disappointing end to a what could have been a lovely evening? The vegans of Berlin don't seem too upset. Carl Jakob Haupt, a food blogger in attendance, told German news site Bild: "I think it's a shame that the party ended so quickly. But in the end, I'm satisfied. It was the best restaurant opening that there's ever been."
Neukölln locals might not agree. As a historically working class neighbourhood with a large immigrant population, not everyone has taken kindly to the area's recent gentrification—disruptive vegan restaurants included. Taking to the Dandy Diner Facebook page, one commenter wrote: "Vegan burgers for the gentrification yuppies. That's just what Neukölln needed! Karl Marx Strasse is already dying out because the rents are going up so much … but as long as people get a posh burger …"
Dandy Diner responded to the post with assurance that Neukölln's "long-term residents can also be happy to have a vegan alternative in their neighbourhood."
That's if they have any food left after this weekend's feeding frenzy.