Best (vegan) cafes – Paris

After a gorgeous weekend in Paris, I thought I’d write up all the wonderful suggestions you all sent us for vegan cafes in Paris. Whilst we couldn’t (by any means) visit all of them, so many of you have asked me to pass on the suggestions, I’m just going to write them all up with a little blurb about their general vibe. They’re not all 100% vegan, but in Paris ‘vegan options’ is still pretty good going!

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Versailles is not very vegan – bring your own picnic!

Cafés

 

Cloud Cakes

This cafe was recommended by 3 lovely people so it has to be good! This is a café that also serves light meals and vegan pastries until 7pm Monday – Saturday and Sunday for brunch.

Wild and the Moon

After receiving more recommendations for wild and the moon than any other place, I knew I had to visit! Fiann and I headed there for brunch on Sunday in the 11tharrondissement. They have multiple cafes, but this is the newest one, so we wanted to check it out. It had beautiful clean décor, plenty of plants and a good number of food options. It was a little pricey compared to what I’d usually spend on breakfast, but the food was indeed delicious, and good vegan food seems to be a bit of a novelty in Paris. I had a smoothie bowl (€10) and Fiann had a focaccia with beetroot hummus (€8.50), before sharing one of the nicest banana breads I’ve ever eaten (aside from mine of course!). Their smoothies are also to die for (they make their own nut milks). Would thoroughly recommend for food, but don’t expect to spend less than €15pp if you want food and a drink! See below for our delicious food.

Ob-la-di

Open 8am – 5pm Monday – Sunday serving coffees, teas and brunch/lunch food. Looks quaint but not cheap (yay Paris). Standard avo-toast affaire, but looks like it has pretty good reviews and apparently is one of the ‘most instagrammed cafes in Paris’.

Café Berry

Situated in the Marais, Café Berry serves healthy vegetarian food and drink and has received many great reviews since its opening in the last year. Looks cute, and I kind of wish I’d been when I was there!

Umami matcha café

Open 9am – 7pm Tuesday to Sunday, Umami matcha café is perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch and afternoon tea. It has 4/5 stars on Tripadvisor and looks like it is great for snacks and matcha, but the reviews about their savoury meals are mixed. Based in the Marais. Not vegan but vegan options.

Oni coffee shop

Based next to Strasborg Saint-Denis/Gare du Nord, this is a new café on a busy street. Out of 40 reviews it has 4.5 stars on Tripadvisor – all pretty positive! It offers lots of homemade cakes, as well as vegan and gluten free options. Expect €4 for a latte and 9€ for a sandwich/tartine.

Holybelly

From my research, Holybelly looks like a very interesting coffee shop. It has great quality coffee (reflected in the price) and 4.5 stars on tripadvisor (out of 802 reviews). The reviews suggest that there might be a bit of a wait, and it’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for here, and the service and quality of food is really good. If you are vegan, double check that your food is cooked without butter, as it’s not a specialty vegan restaurant.

Peonies

On google this simply says ‘coffee and flowers’, which I both love so not sure why I didn’t go here! It looks like a really cute café with good décor, situated near to Gare du Nord. Vegan options are offered but it’s not a speciality of theirs. Gluten free options offered too. Open 9am – 7:30pm Tuesday – Saturdays and reduced hours on Sundays. s

The hardware société

This café is based in Monmartre and has received great reviews for its food! The tripadvisor does not say that vegan options are available, but the vegetarian food looks amazing. Open 9/9:30am – 4/4:30pm everyday except Tuesday and Wednesday (when it is shut).

VG patisserie

VG patisserie is ‘vegan cake heaven’ and has received amazing reviews all round. It’s strictly desserts, but perfect if you want to pop in for a snack if you’re in the 11th arrondissement. Honestly I have no idea why we didn’t go here, it looks incredible!

Café Ginger

We went to café ginger after arriving at Gentle Gourmet only to find it inexplicably shut! I’m happy we did though, because this is an adorable small café/lunch restaurant that locally sources organic vegan produce to create 3 ‘plats du jour’. I have an aubergine ‘parmigiana’ and Fiann had a spring roll. Mine was insanely delicious (it is a favourite dish of mine), with plenty of vegetables on the side. I think our lunches were around €13 each I think. Despite being more than I’d usually spend for a lunch, I was super impressed with both the service and food!

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These delicious plates where from Cafe Ginger – 100% recommend if you’re in the area

 

Restaurants

Hanoi

This is not a vegan restaurant but apparently has a ‘large selection of vegan options’ so made it onto the list. It is an Asian cuisine restaurant open for lunch and dinner everyday. The reviews all comment on the really excellent food for a decent price. This is situated in the Marais.

Wynwood Paris

Wynwood is a restaurant and coffee shop open for lunch everyday and dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is another restaurant with ‘vegan options’ (as well as catering to other dietary requirements) and has excellent reviews on Tripadvisor.

Jah Jah by le Tricycle

This is one of the few restaurants on this list that specialised in vegan (vegetarian and gluten free) foods. It is open everyday except Tuesdays for lunch and dinner is available Wednesday – Saturday. The cuisine is based on African foods, but crosses borders with Indian, Japanese and West Indies hybrid dishes.

Gentle Gourmet

This is another of the few vegan restaurants in Paris (though with the occasional addition of non-vegan products, which are marked clearly on the menu). The food is of top quality (with a price to reflect that). It appears to be open for dinner everyday (except Mondays) and lunch too on Sundays, but Fiann and I tried to visit within these hours only to find it inexplicably shut. Maybe best to call up in advance!

Brasserie Lola

Fiann and I went to Brasserie Lola as it was close to where we were staying (near La Motte Piquet). The place was friendly and had lots of locals, which was great. It used to be a solel;y vegan restaurant, so we were slightly disappointed to see only three vegan mains options on the menu. The vegan burger was incredible, but my tofu pad thai left a lot to be desired (it was over-sweet with pasta used, rather than noodles). Would probably not go back because of the price, but would consider getting the burger again!

Las du fallafel

This restaurant serves middle-eastern/Mediterranean cuisine that has received excellent reviews. It is situated in the Marais, but despite all the competition from other falafel stands, this (apparently) is the one to go to. This is more of a take-away lunch place than a sit down restaurant but is open late.

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Paris is an amazing place and whilst they’re not known for their vegan cuisine, there’s far more than when I lived there 5 years ago!

Nootropics – mind-bending chemicals or natural brain boosts?

I was asked to write this post by the boys at Motion Nutrition, a brand that focuses on the science backing each and every one of their products. I’ve been using them for around two years now because of this, and thought it’d be really interesting to do my own research into these new products called nootropics, two of which Motion Nutrition sell – Power Up and Unplug. Below you’ll see what I found!

There has been a swathe of articles recently on ‘smart drugs’ – drugs taken to increase alertness, productivity and performance, with concerns that teens and adults are relying on these to perform effectively at work/uni/school. In reality, ‘smart drugs’ can incorporate a wide variety of drugs, from amphetamines to coffee, meaning they can hardly all be painted with the same brush.

So what are they exactly? Smart drugs, also known as nootropics – from the greek ‘nous’ (mind) and trepein (to bend or turn) – are substances that improve cognitive function, for example memory, creativity and/or motivation. Their appeal is obvious – imagine how much we could do if we never procrastinated, never got distracted. And so, more and more people are turning to nootropics of various forms to improve themselves. The question then arises: is it wrong/dangerous for people with no medical reason (such as ADHD) to take such substances? Are there any that can be taken safely and effectively by anyone or should there be a blanket ban for those without a prescription?

Nootropics come in various forms and include caffeine, which the majority of adults take in some form on a day to day basis. Caffeine (a xanthine and stimulant) has been shown to improve alertness and performance for many tasks, but has the obvious negative effects when taken in excess. Amphetamines, also stimulants, have been shown to improve a range of functions, even in people without medical need for them. As with caffeine, excessive usage can lead to detrimental effects and addiction, but this is extremely rare when used at prescribed therapeutic levels. There are other types of nootropic too, all following the same sort of pattern – all stimulants improve cognitive function in the general population when used as therapeutic (low) doses and all impair cognitive function (and have other side-effects of various forms) when taken in excess.

So why am I bringing this up now? I recently came across Motion Nutrition‘s new nootropics range (power up and unplug) and was intrigued. They’re not the first to commercialise alertness (hello red bull), but, knowing that the men behind the brand are very into their evidence-based products, I wanted to do a little more research to see the evidence behind some of the ingredients commonly found in these ‘over the counter’ nootropics. Skip to the bottom for a summary 🙂

  • L- Taurine

L- taurine, commonly written simply as taurine* is a non-essential amino acid (i.e. our bodies can produce it). Taurine can be deficient in some people, and therefore supplementation has been tentatively recommended, especially in people who do not eat meat (the main source of taurine). It has a whole host of jobs in our bodies: helping the passage of nutrients in and out of our hearts to improve cardiovascular function and acting as a potent anti-oxidant to remove free-radicals. It has also been suggested to be an anti-diabetic compound. Side effects have only been found at levels somewhere between 3000mg and 1000mg/kg body-weight.

The mental benefits of taurine are debated, but studies seem to show that it can promote brain-cell growth as we age, as well as physical performance. Taurine has also been shown act like GABA, one of our neurotransmitters, helping to decrease anxiety and improve concentration and focus. Verdict? Tentative positivity when looking for improved memory, physical performance and focus.

  • L- Tyrosine 

Tyrosine is a neurotransmitter precursor, meaning that it helps build the chemicals in our brain that relay signals. In healthy people, supplementation of tyrosine doesn’t seem to have many effects in normal situations, but does appear to improve memory when multitasking.

Multiple studies suggest that tyrosine could improve mental performance and memory under stressful conditions, although the effect is less clear in less stressful situations. It may also improve cognitive performance in sleep deprived people, helping them stay alert for longer.

  • Ginseng

Ginseng has been used historically for multiple purposes, although current literature is mixed about its efficacy. Multiple preliminary pieces of research hint at its usefulness in improving memory and fatigue reduction, with around two thirds of studies finding a cognitive enhancing effect. A lot of promise has been seen on the effects of ginsenosides (a compound that comes from ginseng), but more research needs to be done.

  • L- Theanine

A major component of black and green tea, L- theanine improves alertness and relaxation simultaneously, creating the much sought-after ‘focused’ state of mind. Some studies also suggest that it takes the edge off caffeine-induced arousal, limiting that ‘wired’ feeling. It appears that L-theanine works synergistically with caffeine (they work together) – the two together improve reaction time, memory and endurance.

  • Biotin

Biotin, a vitamin, is naturally found in some foods, such as eggs, milk and bananas. It helps make up some enzymes in our bodies that break down our food, and a deficiency can lead to things like brittle nails, exhaustion and depression. It contributes to normal functioning of the nervous system, although there has not been lots of research into biotin supplementation. If you don’t eat animal products and suffer from brittle nails, hair or any of the other above effects, you could be biotin deficient.

 

*The L- before some of the words refers to the levorotatory ‘enantiomer’ or direction of rotation of the compound. The alternative is D- (dextrorotatory, or right turning). Whilst the compounds are chemically the same, the effects in the body can be completely different. As a quick (and very interesting) aside, one of the reasons thalidomide (the pregnancy sickness drug that causes huge birth defects) took so long to come off market, was because it had 2 enantiomers (forms), one of which had no side effects, and the other of which was highly toxic. I could talk about this all day…. but I won’t! The point is, the L- is very important, but sometimes missed out in writing (as I have also done, to save time).

There are more ingredients frequently found in nootropics but these are five of the most common. I would always recommend doing your research on the constituents of a supplement before taking it – WebMD has some excellent information that makes it really easy to understand the level of research behind each ingredient and what it does 🙂

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TL;DR

So are nootropics the drugs of the future, or are they mind bending chemicals, as the papers would have us believe?

My conclusion is that whilst more research needs to be done to be 100% sure, there is some really exciting research out there to suggest that we could be fuelling our brains better. For people who struggle with concentration, memory and focus, or work in a stressful and distracting environment it might be worth playing around with the approved products on the market to see if anything works.

Of course, the majority of the differences in brain function will come from living a healthy lifestyle – nothing is going to make a bigger difference than prioritising sleep, eating well, quitting smoking (if you do) and exercising. But for those of us that do our best to do all of the above, nootropics present an exciting possibility to work at our very best. I think it’s important to remember that we’re not living the film limitless (if you haven’t watched it, it’s an easy-watching film about the development of a new drug that essentially gives you super-cognition) – we’re not (yet) able to function at levels higher than humanly capable, but wouldn’t it be nice to always be on top form, always have laser focus, always power through your work?

I think there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic with nootropics, and no doubt with the emergence of more on the market, the science will only get stronger and the supplements better. It’s important not to scare-monger about products such as this, because fear mongering will only lead to less research, which is always a bad thing! More research = knowledge, and as we all know, knowledge is power. For now, look out for ones with scientific backing and watch out for glorified caffeine pills. Happy shopping!

I’d love to know what you think, and whether you think it’s right to want to improve performance or if you think we should accept our brain’s natural limits. Comment down below or message me on Instagram!