Albert Schweitzer Foundation

How vegan-friendly are Germany's pizza chains?

The Albert Schweitzer Foundation is subjecting German pizza chains to a vegan check.
Albert Schweitzer Foundation
The Albert Schweitzer Foundation is subjecting German pizza chains to a vegan check.

Purely plant-based nutrition is becoming more important to many consumers, and vegan options can be found on many menus. But what does this look like for Germany's pizza chains? The Albert Schweitzer foundation compared for the second time the vegan food offer of the largest pizza delivery services and - system gastronomers.

Conclusion of the analysis: mixed. While the range of plant-based alternatives is improving overall, the companies in the lower ranks are disappointing. Front runner Vapiano scores in the ranking with two vegan pizzas, most vegan main courses and clear labelling.

Call a Pizza can hold second place with the overall largest vegan pizza offer but lean selection of other vegan dishes. A strong third place is secured by Domino's with two vegan pizzas on the menu and a special offer pizza. On the last places often only the pizza dough is vegan - and at L'Osteria not even that. The company still refuses to change its dough recipe to vegetable ingredients.

Vegan offer is growing

Overall, the Albert Schweitzer Foundation notes an improvement in the range of products on offer: "Compared to our ranking two years ago, vegan pizza melting is more widespread. In addition, a handful of exciting pizza creations have made it into the standard range of some chains," says Luisa Böhle, who heads the Foundation's Food Progress Germany department. The evaluation also took into account which vegan dishes are available to customers beyond pizza.

Albert Schweitzer Foundation

"We at Vapiano are thrilled to have achieved first place in the vegan pizza chain ranking of the Albert Schweitzer Foundation with our plant-based food range. Since the last ranking two years ago, in which Vapiano took third place, a lot has changed: The vegan range of products has been expanded in the meantime. Around 20 percent of our menu is now purely vegetable main courses, starters and also two vegan pizzas. Also in the future we want to offer our guests a large selection of vegetable meals", says Delf Neumann, managing director of the Gastro & Soul Group. The group will accompany the reconstruction of Vapiano in Germany as master licensee after the brand had to file for insolvency in April 2020. It remains to be seen whether the current vegan offerings of the Vapiano restaurants will be maintained or even expanded.

Only half the players list vegan pizza

The other companies tested also have a lot of work to do: Only four of the eight largest companies in the industry even have at least one vegan pizza on their menu. "That is far from a nationwide good offer", explains Böhle. "Vegetable meat alternatives are becoming increasingly popular, many people want to reduce their meat consumption. So the demand is there, but the supply is only partially behind. We are curious how the companies will develop in the next few years".
The companies in the individual analysis

1st place: Vapiano

Vapiano leads the ranking with a convincing offer. A fifth of the menu is vegan. Customers find there for example two pizzas with pizza melt and a vegetable meat alternative. Altogether Vapiano offers the most vegan main courses of all companies in the ranking. Also numerous hors-d'oeuvres and salad dressings do without animal ingredients. It is also pleasing that Vapiano actively promotes its vegan offer on its social media channels and consistently and clearly labels the dishes.

2nd place: Call a Pizza

Call a Pizza has not significantly expanded its vegan offering, but it has managed to maintain its second place from 2018. With four vegan pizzas, the company offers the largest vegan pizza range in the ranking. Other warm vegetable main courses are not on the regular menu, but there are relatively many vegetable dips and dressings, a salad and an ice cream. Currently there is also a vegan burger as a special offer.

Third place: Domino's

Two vegan pizzas and another limited offer pizza with a meat alternative, which can also be chosen as topping for other pizzas - this puts Domino's in third place. A pleasing fact: The vegan spread cheese costs the same as cow's milk cheese. Domino's could have earned more points with other vegan main courses and desserts as well as dips.

4th place: Freddy Fresh

At Freddy Fresh there is a vegan Pizza Margherita, which customers can refine according to their wishes. Here, too, the vegetable cheese spread costs no more than cheese made from cow's milk. There is potential for improvement in the vegan pizza range, clear labelling of the dishes and the filtering option on the website.

5th place: L'Osteria

At L'Osteria, not even the pizza dough is vegan. The company rejects a change in the recipe, among other things with reference to its (about twenty years young) "company tradition". This means that only a very small selection remains on the menu for those who want to eat less or no animal products.

Place 6: Flying Pizza

The pizza dough at Flying Pizza is vegan - but there is neither a vegetable cheese alternative nor can the cow's milk cheese be cancelled online. There are no warm vegetable dishes at all, the few vegan products (salad, some starters and dips) are not marked accordingly.

7th place: Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut has changed its dough to a vegan recipe since the last ranking and therefore no longer ends up in last place. Unfortunately, however, the company in Germany lags far behind its sister companies in England, Australia and the USA. There, vegan pizzas, nuggets and co. are already on offer.

Place 8: Smiley's

Since the last ranking, Smiley's has not expanded its range, while the competition has developed further - which is why the company has slipped from 4th to 8th place. Apart from a salad and pizza rolls, there is nothing for vegans here.

Further information about the ranking and the detailed evaluation of the individual enterprises on the Website of the Albert Schweitzer foundation.