The word “vegan” is slowly but surely making its way through the world. Traveling in Europe is generally fairly easy for us veg folk. Most areas in Europe have a good selection of produce and many restaurants offer something in the way of food for us. I’ve traveled quite a bit in Europe in my days. Therefore, the goal for these last three months was to hit some new places on my list. So, with all that said, I will just run through a basic review of what I found to eat and where.
So Ireland can be a bit tricky as you generally just find pub food around that contains a lot of non-vegan-friendly items. However, you can typically find a salad to easily modify as well as nice big helpings of British chips. That said, we stumbled upon a newly opened vegan restaurant called Peckish Vegan Cafe. The cafe has a really fun atmosphere and more importantly, really great food! I had the veggie burger and a salad and it really hit the spot! So, if you’re in western Ireland, I highly recommend you head to Ennis to check it out!
Spain is beautiful. Barcelona is particularly beautiful. Everyone is nice and helpful, but traditional Spanish food is typically not free from animal products. Although, I didn’t find it too hard to find vegan friendly tapas around town. That said, like most big cities, you can easily find some like-minded folks who want to offer the public easy vegan food. While walking around the old town of Barcelona, we found a small spot called Enjoy Vegan. The place has a quaint atmosphere and while not super comfortable, the staff were very sweet and welcoming. The food was decent and best of all, it was really affordable. There were definitely other vegan options in Barcelona but this place fit the bill on a traveler’s budget.
I was surprised to discover that Switzerland was one of the harder places to find vegan meals out and about in restaurants. The Swiss really love their cheese and all traditional Swiss food is very meat and dairy heavy. I always have a fallback in these situations though – seek out Asian restaurants. Almost any Indian, Thai, or Chinese spot will have some sort of vegan option – even if it’s just stir fried veg and rice.
I was fortunate when visiting Switzerland that I got to stay with a friend and cook in her home. And luckily her lovely family didn’t mind eating a lot of vegetables! We cooked many meals with rice, quinoa, lentils, and massive amounts of vegetables. It was amazing. I was happy to share one of my favorite recipes with them as well – lentil stew. They seem to have enjoyed it very much!
Tromsø was a bit hit and miss with vegan friendly food options. As one would expect, being on a fjord in the arctic, there are a lot of fish heavy meals around. However, people were very aware of what it meant to be vegan, which is at least a step forward. Tromsø also had many pizzerias, and they seemed happy enough to leave cheese off a veggie pie. And, like most places, it’s not hard to find something like a salad or pasta dish that can meet a vegan’s needs. With that in mind Norway is very expensive and eating out on an average night can cost two people around $50.
To counteract this cost, we cooked several meals at our hostel. While served food is expensive, groceries are about on par with what you would find anywhere else. There is certainly no shortage of nice produce in the shops. So, if you find yourself in Norway on any type of budget, I suggest you find a place with a decent kitchen and create your own vegan experience!
Oh Paris… Paris is one of those big cities like Barcelona where you can find anything your little traveling heart desires. Parisian cafes offer some great salad options, although you typically have to request no cheese. The French love their cheese… I’m hoping some day, before I die, artisanal vegan cheeses take over the world. Perhaps if we chant loud enough while dancing in flower crowns around a bonfire it just might happen. Anyway… I digress.
So Paris… I was generally able to find food anywhere we went, but we did stumble across the cutest little vegan burger joint called VG Vegetarian & Vegan Cafe. (Although, from what I could tell, everything was vegan). They boasted a simple menu where you could choose one of 4 handmade veggie burgers; add fries, drink, and a dessert for a very reasonable price. It was awesome and I highly recommend stopping by if you’re in Paris.
So in between all my hopping around on this continent, I’ve been staying with a long time friend in London. Now, I have been to the UK more times than I can count on my hands, so it’s a bit like home here to be honest. I’ve mostly been cooking at home while here; however, I have indulged a bit at Vadi Turkish Restaurant. While this is not specifically a vegan place they do have amazing lentil soup, falafel, and fresh hummus. I do love falafel!
We have a Friday night Chinese food tradition (before heading out to karaoke). The Chinese shop around the corner does really nice fried tofu with veg, which makes me happy enough. But one of my favorite things about London – food wise – is that there’s Chipotle. I have missed Chipotle Mexican Grill desperately since leaving the states and it’s been so nice to get my fill while I’m here!
That pretty much rounds out my vegan food hunts during this trip to Europe. While vegan spots aren’t always available, finding food is easy enough on this highly developed continent. In a few days I head to Africa and I’m very much looking forward to those adventures and a bit apprehensive about finding food. But, I’m hoping for the best!