The Ultimate Vegan Guide to Spain

The Ultimate Vegan Guide to Spain

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." 

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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.

For example, you can pick up a vegan croissant at Le Pain Quotidien or a vegan brownie at Shanti Gelato in Barcelona.

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.

Fresc Co, Gino's and Sandwich Club Café are all restaurant chains with branches throughout the country that offer vegan options​.

And let's not forget the local markets. They offer fruits and vegetables galore, and a fascinating cultural experience to boot.​

Produce market in Tarragona, Spain

Produce markets in Spain are great for exploring

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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take it with you when traveling and eating out in Spain?


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Vegan Dishes

Breakfast

Spanish name

Description

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

churros

toasted baguette spread with jam

long sticks of fried dough sprinkled with sugar​

Vegan breakfast in Spain

Soups and Stews

Spanish name

Description

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.]

Vegan soups in Spain

Salads

Spanish name

Description

ensalada mixta

mixed green salad, often served on a large platter in the centre of the table

ensalada de pimientos

roasted peppers, onion, tomato and olive oil

ensalada de zorongollos

An Extremaduran version of ensalada de pimientos made with a special type of pepper, and sometimes with potatoes

ensalada de pepino

tomato, cucumber and onion salad

ensalada verde

asd

tomate aliñado

lettuce, tomato and onion salad

tomato slices with salt, garlic and olive oil​

[Note: The first two salads listed above often contain eggs, ham or tuna, so order them with "solo verduras, sin jamón, huevos o atún" (only vegetables, no ham, eggs or tuna). On the bright side, creamy salad dressings are rare, and salads are usually dressed simply with olive oil and vinegar.]

Tapas

Spanish name

Description

aceitunas

olives

berenjenas fritas

fried eggplant, served with either honey (miel), molasses (miel de caña), or salmorejo (see soups above)

pimientos asados

roasted bell peppers

champiñones salteados

sautéed mushrooms

alcachofas salteadas

sautéed artichoke hearts

patatas bravas

chunky fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce

espárragos salteados

sautéed asparagus (ask for no mayo [sin mayonesa])

espinacas con garbanzos

spinach with chickpeas, popular in Seville

escalivada

roasted red pepper, eggplant and onion

espinacas con pasas

spinach with raisins, often also served with pine nuts (piñones)

patatas a la campesina

potatoes in a tomato sauce with onions and bell peppers

pimientos de Padrón

little green peppers from Galicia (some are hot and some are not!)

salsa de berenjena

​romesco

a cold dip made from puréed eggplant

sauce made with tomatoes, garlic and nuts

tumbet

fried vegetables, stacked and topped with tomato sauce - a Mallorcan specialty

There is an almost endless variety of tapas in Spain, and the above is really just a sampling of what you might find. As recipes vary, always check to make sure that what you order is vegan.

Vegan tapas in Spain

Main dishes

Spanish name

Description

parrillada de verduras

grilled mixed vegetables - simple but delicious!

pisto

similar to ratatouille, with tomatoes, onion, bell peppers and eggplant or zucchini (ask for no egg on top)

champiñones al ajillo

sautéed mushrooms with garlic and olive oil

paella de verduras

rice and vegetable dish seasoned with saffron

Vegan main dishes in Spain

Desserts

Spanish name

Description

nuestro músico

assortment of nuts and raisins - a Catalan specialty

churros

long sticks of fried dough sprinkled with sugar​

fruta fresca

macedonia de frutas

sorbete

fresh fruit (a common option in set lunch menus)

a fruit salad tossed with sugar, liqueur or fruit juice

sorbet (similar to ice cream, but made with only sugar, ice and fruit, without any dairy products)​

Vegan desserts in Spain

Useful Words and Phrases

Non-vegan

Spanish

English

carne

meat

pescado

fish

caldo de carne or pescado

meat or fish broth

mariscos

seafood

leche

milk

polvo de leche

powdered milk

mantequilla

butter

queso

cheese

huevo

egg

jamón

ham

atún

tuna

suero

whey

mayonesa

mayonnaise

nata

xxx

miel

xxx

gelatina

xxx

manteca

xxx

productos lácteos

xxx

yema

cream

xxx​

honey​

xxx​

gelatin​

xxx​

lard​

xxx​

dairy products​

xxx​

egg yolk​

Words to watch for: Of those listed above, the animal products that are most common in Spanish cuisine (and tend to sneak their way even into otherwise vegan dishes) are jamon, atún and huevos. Especially jamón. Curiously, dishes that are listed as vegetariano will often contain atún. Because we all know tuna is a vegetable :-/

Vegan

Spanish

English

verduras

vegetables

fruta

fruit

setas, hongos, champiñones

mushrooms

soja, soya

soy

garbanzos

chickpeas

leche de soja/soya

soy milk

arroz

rice

pan

bread

pepino

cucumber

tomate

tomato

patata

potato

berenjena

eggplant/aubergine

habas

lima beans

lechuga

xxx

nueces, frutos secos

xxx

caldo vegetal

xxx

aceite vegetal​

xxx

margarina

xxx

zumo, jugo*

lettuce

xxx​

nuts​

xxx​

vegetable broth​

xxx​

vegetable oil

xxx​

margarine​

xxx​

juice​

*Some packaged juices in Spain have milk added to them. This should be clear from the packaging (there's usually an image of a splash of white liquid on the box), but look for leche in the ingredients list to be sure.

Phrases

Spanish

English

Soy vegano/a*

I am vegan.

con/sin

with/without

No como ningún producto de origen animal.

I don't eat any animal products.

¿Este plato lleva carne/pescado/huevos/lácteos?

¿Puedo pedir esto sin ... ?

Does this dish contain meat/fish/eggs/dairy?

¿Can I order this without ... ?​

xxx​

gracias

thank you

por favor

please

la cuenta

the bill

¡buen provecho!

bon appetit!

*If you are male, say "soy vegano". If you are female, say "soy vegana".

Brands that Make Vegan Products

A number of vegan products are available in regular supermarkets, such as Mercadona and Consum Cooperativa. Aldi is recommended by locals as a particularly vegan-friendly supermarket chain. In addition to those chains' store brands, the following brands also make vegan products:

Brand name

Products they make

Vivesoy

Soy milk

Alpro

Various types of plant-based milk, soy cream for cooking, margarine

Sojasun

Soy milk, yogurt, pudding-type desserts, soy-based meat products

Gerblé

Soy milk, cookies, crackers, etc.

Violife

Vegan cheese

Divina Teresa

Vegan meats and cheeses

Royne

Vegan ice cream (also makes dairy ice cream)

Gut Bio

Organic brand sold at Aldi, make plant-based milk and meat products

Many thanks to my fellow vegan bloggers, Kim from Brownble and Iosune from Simple Vegan Blog for their helpful local insights. You ladies rock!

Would you like to download a copy of this guide so you can
take it with you when traveling and eating out in Spain?

Click the button below to get your Free Ultimat Vegan Guide to Spain

About Wendy Werneth

Intrepid traveler, vegan foodie and polyglot. Having become vegan after many years of travel across 7 continents and 100 countries, I’m on a mission to show you how you can be vegan anywhere and spread compassion everywhere.

24 Comments

  1. It’s amazing!!! Great job 🙂

  2. one thing- they usually use caldo de pollo (chicken stock)for the soups like crema de verdura!
    the tapas around spain vary a lot- in andalucia you can try garbanzos con espinacas (chickpeas with spinach and lots of garlic and oil)
    in some restaurants that serve bocadillos (baguette sandwiches) like 100 montaitos you can ask for bocadillo de pimiento con tomate

  3. Great job, Wendy – you’re right, there are loads of possibilities, including menestra de verduras, quite common on a menú del día. As you’ve noted, you’d have to specify that you’d like it “sin jamón” 🙂

  4. Good job!
    Just one comment. In Sapin, Alpro brand is commercialized by Central Lechera Asturiana, a dairy company. Not sure why is that. But buying vegan Alpro milk in Spain we are supporting dairy industry.

    • Thanks Valle! It’s not always possible to completely avoid giving money to the animal agriculture industry, but of course it’s good to do so whenever we can. What other brands would you recommend instead?

  5. Wendy! I finally had a good chunk of time to read this AMAZING post! I’m sharing it right now on Brownble’s twitter and facebook. I thought it was comprehensive, so clear, delicious, and that guide to words you can learn … wow!! It’s so exciting to have someone like you writing a blog like this. I need a guide like this for when I visit Paris again and Rome! I can’t thank you enough for the mention.. you’re always too kind to me! I’ll be sharing to help spread the word. I laughed so hard about the vegan tuna I almost spit out the smoothie I was drinking! Here in Madrid when you order a “sandwich vegetal” it is basically a tuna, mayonnaise and lettuce sandwich. If you had to make it vegan it would be a lettuce sandwich! Crazy! And I remember once ordering a gazpacho and have shredded pig served on top of it. Oh boy! Fortunately vegan food is growing, especially with all the wonderful veg restaurants popping up all over. And there are a ton of traditional tapas. It isn’t Greece but we’re moving in the right direction… slowly 🙂

    • Hi Kim! Yay, I’m so glad you like it! And yeah, the tuna thing really makes me scratch my head. I’ve seen it a lot in France too, unfortunately. But you’re right about the veg restaurants popping up, especially in Madrid and Barcelona, and I’ve even seen a couple in small towns too. If you’re ever in Cáceres, be sure to eat at Brotes Verdes!
      Funny you should mention Paris, because I’m actually writing a post right now about vegan food in the airport there. I have lots of info to share about Rome too. Are you planning a trip there anytime soon? If so, let me know and I’ll be sure to get it out in time for you to use it.
      I’ve been thinking about you, with the launch of Brownble coming up. I hope it’s epic! You’re doing a great job, and I hope lots of people get to see it.
      Wendy Werneth recently posted…The Nomadic Vegan Celebrates Its Birthday in Chamonix!My Profile

  6. That’s great!!! and thanks for your kind words Wendy! Not yet, but I think Rome might be my next one. I’ll let you know and will be glued to your blog to see if anything comes up. Yum!

  7. Awesome, Rome is my favourite place in the world, so be sure to hit me up for tips when you go. Did I ever tell you I used to be a tour guide there?
    Wendy@TheNomadicVegan recently posted…Sky High Vegan – Paris AirportMy Profile

  8. Las patatas bravas usually comes with mayonaise and tomatosaus. Ask them with the sauce aside! It is saver!

    • Hi Elena, thanks for pointing that out. Yes, sometimes it does come with mayonnaise, so you could ask for it “sin mayonesa” to be safe. The spicy tomato sauce should be vegan.

  9. Fantastic article! I will be walking a portion of the Camino this spring and am so grateful to have come across this very helpful and useful information! Now to brush up on my Spanish pronunciation…

    • Thanks so much, Alison! That’s quite a coincidence actually, because I’ll be walking the Camino this spring too! I’ll be starting from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port around the 24th of May. If you think there’s a chance we might run into each other, do let me know. Have a great trip!

  10. Thanks for a great guide, we are printing it off and taking it to Gran Canaria with us next week 🙂

    • I’m so glad you find the guide helpful, Katie. I can think of a few vegan specialties in the cuisine of the Canary Islands that you might want to seek out in addition to the ones in this guide.

      Firstly, there’s the mojo sauce, which is actually a whole range of different sauces made with peppers, chilies, tomatoes, and various herbs and spices. Papas arrugadas (“wrinkly potatoes”) are a dish of salted and boiled new potatoes, which are served with a red mojo sauce.

      Then there’s gofio, a mixture of roasted grains from a variety of cereals and legumes. This is used to make various dishes, such as pellas de gofio – dumplings made with gofio, water, salt and oil. There’s also a dish called puchero canario, which is boiled vegetables covered with gofio dough.

      Have a wonderful trip to Gran Canaria!

  11. Please get rid of the share buttons down the left-hand side – they pl/hide text that we want to read.

    • Oh really?? Thanks for letting me know, Alan! What kind of device are you reading on? Someone complained of this awhile back when reading on an iPad, and I thought I had fixed it then.

  12. Hi I’m in Granada atm and I’d love to try churros but I’m not sure how to tell if heard suitable for vegans, how would I know? Thanks,

    Gigi

    • Hi Gigi!
      The best way is just to ask. In Spanish, you could say something like, “Los churros llevan huevos o leche? (Do the churros contain eggs or milk?)” In my experience, churros in Spain are usually vegan, as they’re made from a batter of flour, water and salt that’s deep fried and sprinkled with sugar. The hot chocolate that they’re often served with usually isn’t vegan, but you could dip them in coffee instead, or just eat them on their own. Have a great time in Granada!

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