Are you following a plant based diet and you are thinking about moving to Spain or have you recently moved to this beautiful country and you don’t know if there are enough options for your lifestyle?
Changing countries when having more specific eating preferences can be a little bit complicated in the beginning since you have to do your research all over again in order to find the restaurants, cafeterias and supermarkets that match your way of eating.
Mediterranean countries like Spain might include in their everyday diet fish, meat and dairy however, they also consume fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, cereals and grains regularly.
Eating out with friends
A big part of the Spanish Culture and lifestyle is going out with friends after work to have a beer, or usually on Sundays to have a vermouth (vermut) and order small portions of food called Tapas. Thankfully, there are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options of tapas in all Spanish cities.
Traditional Plant Based Dishes all around Spain
One of the most typical plant based dishes is Patatas Bravas, a dish that can be so versatile since in various Spanish cities prepare it differently. Essentially, it is fried potatoes with a special Bravas Sauce and Garlic Aioli. Aioli can be vegan or vegetarian since it can be done both with or without eggs.
Another very popular dish between vegetarians in Spain is Tortilla de Patata that is simple to make and easy to pack for work or eat it in a Bocadillo (the Spanish word for baguette bread sandwich).
During summertime, when the weather gets very hot especially in southern Spain you will see that people eat cold soups like Gazpacho and Salmorejo. Gazpacho is a traditional recipe from Andalucia made of tomatoes, cucumber, green peppers, garlic, bread and extra virgin olive oil. Salmorejo is a similar recipe from Cordoba that sometimes is topped with grated egg.
Pimientos del padrón is a delicious appetizer that came from the province of La Coruña
and it is a variety of small green peppers that can be quite spicy. They are fried and served covered in salt.
The traditional recipe of Paella Valenciana, the most typical dish of Valencia, does include meat and seafood but vegans and vegetarians can eat Paella de Verduras, a paella that is only made with rice, vegetables, and vegetable broth but it is equally flavourful.
Depending on the province you stay in you can find dishes like Calcots, the famous green onions of Catalunya, Eggplant with cane sugar from Cordoba, Berenjena con Miel de Caña in Spanish or the vegan Fabada, a bean stew from Asturias.
Multicultural Ethnic Plant Based Restaurants
Apart from all the local restaurants of traditional spanish cuisine, in big cities like Madrid and Barcelona you will also find a huge variety of ethnic restaurants with flavours from every part of the world.
All the way from avocado sushi to vegan masala, in metropolitan cities of Spain you can look for amazing international restaurants that will take you on a gastronomic trip around the world without having to move from your neighborhood.
Plant Based Grocery Shopping
Doing the groceries in Spain while following a vegan or vegetarian diet can be very easy since there are plenty of options. Big super markets like Mercadona or Lidl apart from fruit, vegetables, grains and cereals have also a wide selection of products like tofu, seitan and every kind of plant based milk. Since the number of non meat eaters is progressively growing in Spain almost every food store is considering adding or widening their vegan and vegetarian options.
Apart from your traditional supermarkets you can also find food markets with organic food like Ametller Origen, Veritas and Organic Market that have a big selection of vegan protein like quinoa burgers, tempeh, vegan cheese and tofu hot dogs. The downside of these places is that they are more pricey than your local supermarket.
In all Spanish cities you will also find big open markets called Mercados. Apart from their quality products, some of these markets are also known for their architecture like the Mercado Central in Valencia and the Mercado de la Ribera in Bilbao. In the town’s market you can find fresh fruits and vegetables from local producers, nuts, grains and cereals. Apart from great groceries it is also worth visiting since shopping in the Mercados historically have formed part of the Spanish Culture and until now is still a very common everyday habit.
How easy is it to follow a plant based diet in Spain?
Following a plant based diet in Spain can be simple and natural. You will have no problem finding vegan and vegetarian products and you can also find plenty of non meat options in restaurants, cafeterias and take away places. Since the vegan and vegetarian community has been growing rapidly the last decade, meat eaters in Spain are also quite aware and familiar with this lifestyle and most of them will totally respect your eating preferences and will try to find a way for you to taste the local delicacies without having to eat meat.
Apart from Spanish local restaurants with plant based options you can also easily find only vegan or vegetarian restaurants using applications like Happy Cow (www.happycow.net). You could even invite your non vegan friends so that they can discover food combinations and preparations they have never tried before.
Regarding the cost of being vegan and vegetarian in Spain there isn’t a significant difference from being a meat eater. You might need to spend that extra coin in organic supermarkets that have more plant based protein options but regular groceries are quite affordable.
Travel, taste and experience…
Visiting a new country gives you the opportunity to try a whole new spectrum of textures and flavours, you can experiment with new products and adjust the traditional recipes to match your preferences.
Spain is one of the best gastronomic destinations in Europe and nowadays makes a perfect stop for vegans and vegetarians, you just have to go with an open mind and a lot of curiosity to look and discover new amazing places and delicious dishes.