Why the change of menu? Organizers point to the rise in vegetarian and vegan diets in Germany, making plant-based platters and even vegan vino an important shift to keep up with the changing times. Moreover, they recognize that their event attracts an international audience, many seeking non-meat options.
"As the event becomes more international, people with special dietary requirements and different culinary tastes are becoming the norm," explained Wolfgang Nickl of Munich's city council, which is responsible for organizing Oktoberfest.
The dishes for meat lovers will still be available, just like last year, when half a million chickens, 116 whole oxen and 115,000 pork sausages were dished up in Munich's beer tents within three weeks.
However, the organizers recognize that more Germans are becoming vegans and vegetarian, with 800,000 of that nation's seven million vegetarians eliminating all animal products from their diets, reports the Association of German Vegetarians (VEBU).
"Whether it's environmentalism, climate protection or health concerns, there is a growing awareness among Germans when it comes to the vegetarian agenda," revealed a VEBU spokeswoman.
So precisely what will be served? Options for vegans and vegetarians will include:
- soy "pork" medallions with sauteed chanterelle mushrooms
- a vegan version of the traditional cheesy egg noodle bake known as "Käsespätzle" (no eggs, no cheese)
- Soy cutlets as part of a chicken-free fricassee (somewhere in Germany, chickens are clucking in approval)
- Vegan red wine
"Vegan food is the best way to ensure that people of all religions, as well as those that don't eat animal products out of conviction, aren't excluded from the festivities," declared Martin Jonas, who has been working at "Herzkasperl" for four years. "Though it's hard for Bavarians to change their approach, it makes sense. It's the lowest common denominator."