Daily Pampering: Learn to cook “wegetarian” in Switzerland

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to like vegetarian food. Many of us are vegetarians one day and want a cheeseburger the next. That’s okay.

Hiltl, pronounced HILL-tuhl, is a 112-year-old institution of a vegetarian restaurant and club in Zürich. They call such eaters “flexetarians” (and they call vegetarians “wegetarians,” which is delightful). It’s nice to see a little flexibility from the vegetarian community; often, we omnivores feel we aren’t allowed to be part of their club. Hiltl welcomes the both the veg-curious and those who simply appreciate the health benefits or the fresh taste of vegetarian cuisine, as well as die-hard vegans, those with hard-to-accommodate allergies and your garden-variety vegetarians.

The restaurant has a legendary daily vegetarian buffet which one pays for by weight. Though your plate price will vary due to what you select — fried rice and Thai curry are the most popular — they assured me that pretty much everyone gets out for well under 30 CH ($25.74), and that includes a glass of wine or a freshly squeezed juice.

Beyond being a popular restaurant as well as a nightclub (Thursday – Saturday after 11 PM), Hiltl is also a teaching institution. If you’re interested in eating more vegetarian food but don’t know what to make, or you’re just looking for something to do, you can arrange a cooking class for a group at prices starting at 150 CH ($128.71) per person.

I happened to take one such class and learned to cook with agar agar, Quorn and I even made the above beluga lentil terrine (with no belugas, of course). You can do this, too, just visit Hiltl’s website and click on English and Cooking Studio to find out how. The Earth, and perhaps your arteries, will thank you.
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My trip to Zürich was sponsored by Zürich Tourism and Switzerland Tourism, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100 percent my own.