It takes a fair bit of commitment, not to mention money to spend a bunch of time in Spain and still be a vegan. If you say that you are a vegetarian (soy vegetariano) you are generally offered something with fish or even jamon (ham). Spain is a country of meat, fish, white bread, cheese and pastries. There are vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Barcelona and Madrid but not much elsewhere.
Luckily, well kind of, if you are living on a budget you won’t be eating out too much anyway, but even if you were intending to live it up, outside of the vegetarian and vegan restaurants, you will find yourself limited to very bland salads or pan con tomate (the bread and tomato ‘delicacy’ found on every Catalan menu. Tasty but not hugely inspiring.
However, self catering offers thankfully more. There’s a fair range of vegetables to be found – generally a couple of varieties of lettuce (they seem to favour the bagged – probably washed in chlorine – varieties here), loads of different types of tomatoes that are generally delicious, knobbly cucumbers (think the Incredible Hulk’s penis), red peppers, potatoes, onions and the lovely source of fat that is the avocado. That’s the very basics. You can also find kale (at times), celery, yams/sweet peppers, butternut squash blah de blah.
The best supermarket, but also not the cheapest is Carrefour. The larger stores even have a small organic/healthy section where you can pick up soya milk, cookies etc and even sometimes rice milk – if you’re lucky.
Your best resource for anything other than olive oil and vegetables in Catalunya is the chain of organic supermarkets – Veritas. But beware – it’s no Wholefoods. But you can pick up premium priced oils, seaweeds, organic rice and pasta, tofu products, chocolate, herbal teas, organic coffees, potato chips and eco friendly washing products and cosmetics such as Weleda. They generally also have a small quantity of baked goods. It’s not a cheap place to shop, but for non cow hurting milk etc – it’s useful to have around.
Most cities tend to have little independent organic shops that sell the usual range of gluten free breads and pastas, soya and rice milk, nuts, seaweeds, agave syrup, organic sugars and herbal teas.
Markets are a good place to pick up cheaper items and Spanish markets are pretty spectacular places – although pretty graphic when it comes to meat and fish – so you need a strong stomach or to ask a friend to blindfold you until you get to the non-death counters. But you can great fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, so it might be worth it.
La Boqueria in Barcelona (situated half way down Las Ramblas) is one of the best markets I’ve been to. Pick pocketers know this and target the place, so be cautious.
If you are arriving on the ferry with a campervan or car and have room, I recommend picking up staples of your diet that may not be so easy to locate whilst here. Eg spirulina, chlorella, raw agave syrup, hemp seed and seeds for sprouting (which are massively expensive here, and not that easy to find). Coconut oil is also quite difficult to find. As is argon oil.
There are NO places to buy raw food bars or snacks that I’ve found yet. Not even in Barcelona, although I’ve heard of a raw food restaurant in Madrid and in Ibiza, that’ll I’ll be checking out and reviewing.
Nuts and dates are available in markets, but in supermarkets they are generally limited to a few basic types and then roasted to death and then embalmed in cheap table salt.
Finding places outside of Barcelona, Madrid or the other big cities that offers soya milk in drinks is a rarity. If you’re desperate to sit out on one of the terraces and have a milky drink, take your own soya, rice or nut milk in a small bottle.
There will be more about raw vegan Spain in other posts.
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