It takes a fair bit of commitment, not to mention money to spend a bunch of time in Spain and still come out of it a vegan that isn’t undernourished. 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 goodrange 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, tofu 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.
Across the rest of Spain, you will occasionally come across a tiny organic store where you can pick up the basics. These are generally a delight. I’ll be reporting these and where to find them on this site, as they are discovered.
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, and nuts and seeds by the kilo, so it might be worth the visit.
[La Boqueria] in Barcelona (situated half way down Las Ramblas) is probably the best market I’ve been to and there’s also a small counter at the back called Organic – which sells quite pricey vegetarian and vegan cuisine.
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