When you are planning to go abroad as a vegetarian (or vegan) it is really important to think about your eating plans ahead of time, just in case you find yourself in a country like Spain where seafood and jamón are abundant. The question is: can you get by as a vegetarian (or more) living here for six+ months? Even though we are not vegetarians, we have friends and family who are and we would say yes, you can survive as a vegetarian or vegan in Spain! In fact, Claudia one time traveled for two weeks with two vegetarians and a vegan and, while on occasion it was difficult, they managed to not only survive but eat a lot of good food too.
Of course, you might not find it to be easy or straightforward to be a vegetarian or vegan long term in Spain, but it is definitely possible. Over the years living in Spain, what we have found is that it is easier to find specialized products (for any diet) in larger cities than in small country towns. However, if you are crafty enough, you should be fine anywhere you go. Here are our top three tips:
1.) Take advantage of ‘normal’ Spanish food that is vegetarian
Although there is lots of Spanish food that is made with animal products, you can also find many options that are made without. For example, for breakfast you can eat delicious pan con tomate and olive oil, a traditional Spanish breakfast, and some good snacks are olives and pimientos al padrón. In addition, summer soups such as gazpacho and salmorejo can easily be prepared as vegan dishes. If you are vegetarian, we highly recommend trying tortilla de patatas, Spanish omelette, and the wide variety of Spanish cheeses that will be available to you. In addition, you might find in different regions you will be able to find even more ‘normal’ Spanish foods to fit your dietary needs.
WARNING: BE CAREFUL WHEN ORDERING SOMETHING LIKE VEGETABLE PAELLA OR OTHER STOCK-BASED DISHES―THE STOCKS COULD EASILY BE CHICKEN/OTHER ANIMAL STOCK. ASK THE WAITER TO CLARIFY.
2.) Check out the grocery stores for lots of amazing options
For everything from snacks to meals, Spanish supermarkets have an amazing selection of vegetarian and vegan options without even trying (the Mediterranean climate means that the fruit and veg are fantastic). If you are on the go, stock up on sandwich fillings like tomatoes, lettuce, and avocados―easily under 2 euros a pound when in season―; boxed gazpacho; and fresh fruit to snack on. If you have a place to cook, you will have access to all you need to cook good basic food! This is also a great way to save money if you are on a budget! For simple supermarket Spanish, check out this article!
You will also find that more vegetarian and vegan alternatives are becoming available in the super markets. This means that you will most likely be able to find plant-based drinks and yogurts and may even find typical Spanish foods like chorizo in vegan form. However, don’t go into Spanish supermarkets expecting them to have everything available in vegan form. Oftentimes the options are quite limited so we would recommend focusing on the fresh food!
3.) Try Happy Cow to find restaurants for you
This website/app helped us find delicious vegetarian or vegan restaurants all over Spain when we are traveling with vegetarians and vegans. Just pop in where you are and they will find options near you. We highly recommend this if you are traveling with people who love food, but are unable to try local fare because of the ingredients. Unsponsored and just sharing because it is such an amazing tool, we have used this app many times when we are traveling with different kinds of eaters and are looking for a good place.
However, no matter how you find your vegetarian or vegan friendly restaurants, please know that these are still considered specialty restaurants in most parts of Spain. That means that you should budget for these differences if that is something important to you! Remember, if your budget is tight, take advantage of the supermarkets and splurge on the things that you really want.
What have been your experiences as a vegetarian or vegan in Spain? Let us know in the comments!
P.S. Shout-out to our vegetarian and vegan friends―you always have us experimenting new types of foods and having awesome experiences in general! Thank you!