I bet you’ve heard it all before.
“YOU want to go to SPAIN?! Don’t even think about it! The Spaniards think tuna is a vegetable!”
All too often, vegetarians and vegans are made to think that they will be scorned as complete outcasts the minute they step foot in the country.
Well, don’t believe a word of it! Spain is a lot more vegan-friendly than you’ve been led to believe. The truth is, most places are.
The key word here is friendly.
For the most part, its inhabitants will go out of their way to meet your needs and make you feel at home, even if they don’t quite understand why you wouldn’t want pig flesh tossed in your salad, floating on top of your soup, or wrapped around your asparagus.
“Spain is more vegan-friendly than you’ve been led to believe. The truth is, most places are.”
The availability of specialty vegan products and restaurants catering specifically to vegans will of course depend on where exactly in Spain you are.
The two largest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, are a paradise for vegan travellers. You will find scores of vegan and vegetarian restaurants there, and even mainstream establishments are starting to cater for vegans.
In smaller towns, it’s a different story. It’s certainly true that traditional Spanish cuisine focuses heavily on meat, particularly ham.
That said, there are a number of Spanish dishes that are as traditional as chorizo and yet are completely and naturally vegan, and even more that can be easily adapted and made vegan.
And let’s not forget the local markets. They offer fruits and vegetables galore, and a fascinating cultural experience to boot.
The following is a list of just some of the naturally vegan or easily veganized dishes Spanish cuisine has to offer.
While I’ve attempted to break them down into different categories, these are flexible. Is a parrillada de verduras a starter or a main dish? Are churros a breakfast item or a dessert? You get to decide!
As a vegan in Spain, your lunch may be made up of a combination of soups, salads and side dishes that come together to create a delicious meal.
Don’t worry, this isn’t weird, and in fact you’ll find locals doing the same thing. This is the beauty of tapas culture.
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|pan con tomate (a.k.a tostada con tomate)||Bread rubbed with puréed ripe tomato, olive oil, and salt or garlic|
|coca de vidre con tomate||similar to pan con tomate, but served on a thinner flatbread|
|tostada con mermelada
|toasted baguette spread with jam
long sticks of fried dough sprinkled with sugar
Soups and Stews
|gazpacho||a cold, raw soup made of blended tomatoes and other vegetables|
|gazpacho de espárragos||a variation of gazpacho made with asparagus instead of tomato|
|salmorejo||a cold soup similar to gazpacho, but creamier as it’s made with stale bread and olive oil|
|crema de verduras||a thick and hearty soup made from a variety of vegetables blended together|
|ajo blanco (a.k.a gazpacho blanco)||a cold soup made with garlic, stale bread and almonds|
|sopa de tomate||this one is a hot (cooked) tomato soup|
[Note that, while these soups themselves are usually vegan, they are often topped with ham or egg, or both, so be sure to order them “sin jamón y sin huevo“. In some places (especially in Extremadura), ajo blanco is made with egg yolks.]