Food. Hobby, passion, fun, meditation, … and sometimes a chore. Eating out, for example. With all our free-from requirements, picking a restaurant has become tedious business.
Turns out, there’s (finally!) an app for that.
In Germany, anyway, and, since March 16 2016, in Switzerland.
The app’s called vanilla bean and it lists more than 4,000 cafés and restaurants.
And it’s time for another app review on BEAUTYCALYPSE! 😉
Eating Out As A _____*:
A Tedious Task
* fill in the blank:
vegan, vegetarian, or a gluten/ lactose-intolerant person.
Before vanilla bean launched, I’ve searched far and wide for something similar to help me pick restaurants in Berlin and Germany fast. In the US, there seems to be a range of very different restaurant finder apps for food allergy sufferers and for vegans; some apps are free, some are subscription based, some have user-generated content, some are curated; and users seem quite content with them too. But well, if I plan to go out in Berlin, a vegan deli in L.A. won’t cut it, n’est-ce pas?
So what options did I have?
Apart from Google (ha ha), there’s a gluten-free restaurant search tool for Germany and Europe offered by Schär, a company specialising in gluten-free convenience food, but it has – or rather: had, when I last checked sometime last year – a ‘data base’ that almost made me cry. Links they listed were either old or broken. Then there’s of course the German vegetarian & vegan association VEBU offering a rather decent restaurant search tool for vegans and vegetarians. It is helpful but sadly, gluten is none of their concerns.
Side note: gluten totally should be a concern for vegan-oriented service providers and food manufacturing companies. After all, many vegan foods are made of wheat protein.
Kudos first: vanilla bean has just won in the Life & Style category of the Show Your App Awards 2016 hosted by German tech media, which showcases just how much commercial interest the topic sparks by now.
vanilla bean is a free app developed by the Munich-based start-up Grünzeug GmbH. Grünzeug is German for greens, but also a colloquial term for any plant-based foods.
The app is free (download links for different mobile platforms follow below), it’s highly intuitive and easy to use, beautifully designed and pleasantly fuzz-free. Major bonus point: you don’t need to register with the app, you just use it 🙂 The search filters are super easy to check on and off, and the amount of restaurants you’re offered is not too shabby either. You can also choose to turn GPS on or off, it will work just fine either way. If GPS is on, you have the additional perk of letting the app guide you to the restaurant you choose. Here’s how to set up and use the app in a few simple steps:
Clever move #1: you can get in touch with the app devs anytime using a feedback form within the app.✅
Clever move #2: from the press section on the Vanilla Bean website, restaurants can download a cute branded badge to use in their comms.🎯
The only bummer for me was that user-generated content such as reviews/ ratings and photography uploads are possible exclusively via a Facebook account. But other than that: bon apetit!
Update August 2016:
New In-Browser App!
Since August 2016, vanilla bean is availabe via browser. The new application includes city guides and has been completely redesigned in lieu of “simply” scaling it in order to provide a pleasant user experience.
Ridiculously simple to use; with intelligent city guides featured under “Fancy a getaway?” (notice that I looked it up from Berlin, and I didn’t get the Berlin city guide); the only caveat right now is that when you use filters such as “vegan” or “gluten-free” or “regional”, it somehow kills your city choice – but you can even it out by zooming in the map on the right.