6 Tips for Eating Vegan on the Camino de Santiago

How to eat vegan on the camino de santiago

After 39 days of walking across Spain on the medieval pilgrimage route known as the Camino de Santiago, I'm here to tell you that being vegan on the Camino de Santiago is a lot easier than you might think.

When I searched for information about vegan food on the Camino de Santiago before starting my journey, I didn’t find much, and what I did find was fairly negative. I read things like: “The Camino is not a foodie trip for those of us that don't eat meat, so don't get your dietary hopes up”.

Before my Camino, I had already traveled in Spain enough to know that I wouldn’t have trouble finding vegan food there, but the abundance of vegan food that I did encounter exceeded even my expectations.

And yet, I know that not everyone experiences the same vegan abundance on their Camino.

Exhibit A: the person who wrote the sentence quoted above.

Exhibit B: the vegans and vegetarians who I met personally on the Camino.

Many of them had gone back to eating animal products that they wouldn’t normally eat, because they didn’t think they had any other options on the Camino.

This saddens me deeply, both for the animals who were harmed and for these people who wanted to live in alignment with their own values but didn’t have the knowledge or resources that would enable them to do so.

And that’s why I’m sharing with you my top six tips for eating vegan on the Camino de Santiago. In fact, I have much more to share with you on this topic, and I will be releasing lots more resources for vegetarian and vegan pilgrims in the near future.

But with the pilgrimage season in full swing right now, I just couldn’t stand the thought of more veg*n pilgrims setting out on their Camino unprepared.

I could write a whole book on the subject of being vegan on the Camino (and maybe I will!). But for now, here are my best tips for fully enjoying your Camino experience without compromising your values.

I explain these tips in some detail in this video, or if you just want the highlights you can read those below.

6 Tips for Eating Vegan on the Camino de Santiago

1. Learn a Few Key Spanish Words and Phrases

Learn Spanish as a vegan on the Camino de Santiago

When walking the Camino de Santiago, you will meet many Spaniards who speak little to no English, especially in smaller towns and villages. The language barrier is often the biggest stumbling block facing vegetarians and vegans on the Camino de Santiago.

But don’t worry! You don’t have to be fluent in Spanish to effectively communicate your needs.

I’ve created a cheat sheet with some simple Spanish phrases that you can use to order a vegan meal in restaurants and pilgrims’ hostels (albergues). It even includes the Spanish names of common dishes served on the Camino that are already vegan or easily veganizable. Just click below to download your vegan Camino de Santiago cheat sheet for free.

Want to be able to easily order vegan food on the Camino de Santiago even if you don't know any Spanish?

Click the button below to get your Free Vegan Cheat Sheet to Speaking Spanish on the Camino de Santiago

2. Get to Know Spanish Cuisine

Ultimate Vegan Guide to Spain - vegan on the Camino de Santiago

After the language barrier, the next biggest hurdle facing vegetarians and vegans on the Camino de Santiago is not knowing what dishes to look for on the restaurant menus.

There are a surprising number of traditional Spanish dishes that are naturally vegan. But since vegetarian and vegan options are not usually marked as such on menus, you could easily overlook these dishes, not realizing that they don’t contain animal products.

But don’t worry; I’ve got you covered there too! My ultimate vegan guide to Spain gives a thorough rundown of vegan food in Spain, including dishes that are commonly served in towns and villages on the Camino de Santiago.

3. Veganize the Pilgrim’s Menu

Pilgrim's Menu - vegan on the Camino de Santiago

A pilgrim’s menu is a set menu consisting of a first course, second course, dessert, bread and drink. You will see it offered everywhere on the Camino de Santiago. It usually costs about 10 euros, which is much cheaper than ordering all these items individually.

Since the second course is always a meat or fish dish, many vegans and vegetarians on the Camino de Santiago assume that they can’t take advantage of the pilgrim’s menu. But this is not true!

In order to veganize the pilgrim’s menu, all you need to do is to ask for two first courses instead of a second course, and then ask for fresh fruit for dessert. The dishes on offer vary, of course, but a number of the most common first course dishes are vegan or can easily be veganized.

These are listed in both Spanish and English on my vegan Camino de Santiago cheat sheet, so don’t forget to grab your free copy!

4. Order Paella, Not Pizza

Paella de verduras - vegan on the Camino de Santiago

Many bars and cafés in small towns and villages do not have the capacity to cook fresh, homemade food in large quantities. So instead, they serve pre-prepared dishes.

These are easy to spot, as the bars and cafés all have the same cardboard cutout signs outside advertising the same paella, pizza and pasta dishes.

The pre-made pizza and pasta dishes are never vegan. And, since they are not made to order, it’s not possible to veganize them.

The selection of paellas, however, is made by a company called Paellador and always includes a paella de verduras (vegetable paella) that is totally vegan. It’s not as good as homemade paella, of course, but it’s still pretty tasty!

The paella de verduras from Paellador is widely available all along the Camino de Santiago and is a good fall-back vegan option if you can’t find anything else.

5. Seek Out Vegetarian Restaurants and Albergues

Vegetarian Albergue - vegan on the Camino de Santiago

Having checked HappyCow before starting out on the Camino de Santiago, I knew that I would find vegetarian restaurants in the larger cities like Logroño, Burgos and León. I was looking forward to feasting in these towns, and I figured that my veggie meals there would be a rare treat.

What I didn’t realize was that there are also vegetarian restaurants and vegetarian albergues in many smaller towns and villages on the Camino de Santiago! This is especially true along the final 330-kilometer stretch from León to Santiago.

My favorites include Albergue Verde, El Beso, and El Serbal y La Luna, but there are plenty more. It was in these vegetarian albergues more than anywhere else that I truly felt the spirit of the Camino, and I highly recommend them to veg and non-veg pilgrims alike.

In the future, I will be creating more resources for you that describe these vegetarian albergues and restaurants in detail. In the meantime, to find out where they are located along the Camino you can download The Vegetarian Way.

The Vegetarian Way is a list of veg options on the Camino compiled by my friend Jeff from Heart of the Camino. Jeff is a talented photographer who has walked the Camino de Santiago several times, so take a look at his photos and posters of the Camino for some inspiration before your journey!

6. Pack Your Own Vegan Trail Snacks

Granola bars - vegan on the Camino de Santiago

While I was on the Camino, in the evenings I usually ordered dinner at restaurants or albergues. During my walking time in the mornings and early afternoons, however, I mostly self-catered by eating picnic foods and other snacks that I carried with me.

I enjoyed being able to stop to eat wherever and whenever I wanted, rather than being dependent on the cafés and bars I might come across on the way.

Picnic foods such as bread, tomatoes and avocados are available pretty much everywhere on the Camino. I often supplemented this with vegetarian patés that I bought in health food stores, but the ubiquitous extra virgin olive oil works just as well.

There are also many vegan trail snacks that are sold in supermarkets and small grocery stores in virtually every village on the Camino de Santiago. Some easy-to-find vegan snack foods include: nuts, fresh or dried fruit, trail mix, granola bars, rice cakes, digestive biscuits (cookies), and dark chocolate bars.


Once I wrap up the launch of my new book, Veggie Planet, I will be creating lots more resources for vegetarians and vegans who are making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela on the Camino de Santiago, so watch this space.

In the meantime, be sure to grab your free copy of my cheat sheet for ordering vegan food in Spanish on the Camino!

Click the button below to get your Free Vegan Spanish Cheat Sheet

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.

10 Comments

  1. Wendy! Great info here! This article and video will benefit so many future pilgrims (including myself.) Congratulations on the journey and thank you for sharing it with us! 🙂

  2. So grateful. Walking in September. this will be a massive help. thanks wendy

    • That’s wonderful, Belinda! I know it will be an amazing experience for you. I hope to publish some more resources on the Camino before September, but feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Buen camino!

  3. Paul Bannister

    Hi Wendy! Great video with solid info! Was so glad to have met you. Happy trails!

  4. Congrats on completing the Camino! That’s so awesome. 🙂 Great tips here, especially the paella. So useful for future vegans on the camino!
    Caitlin recently posted…World Vegan Travel Day (+GIVEAWAY of $600+ of vegan travel goodies!)My Profile

  5. Manda Boyd Maloney

    A great overview! My husband and I did the Camino De Santiago in June last year (a great time to go weatherwise, but crazy numbers as it was a quasi holy year) and were worried about vegan options, rereading the scant info on the internet like you did!

    But to be honest we usually ate like kings! Mainly by staying in albergues with kitchens (where we’d prepare dins like potao salad or pasta then carry leftovers in jars the next day), purchasing the plentiful and delicious fruit and veg and gorging on the insanely delicious dark chocolate varieties esp at the start of the way! There was always freshly baked ciabatta for sandwiches and espresso for a pick me up:) Often times other pilgrims would stop and enquire after our bean paste (we’d rinse and mash a jar, mix in some EVOO and seasoning then take that with us), avo and tomato delicacies, bemoaning the oftentimes greasy pilgrim lunch/dinner sets.. It’s both possible, cheap and easy with a little bit of prep.

    Like you we also sought out opportunities of luxury at veg friendly albergues and whilst we didn’t really enjoy our time at El Beso, I’d like to add https://m.facebook.com/adareliegos/?ref=content_filter to your list. A very tiny town with a super lovely albergue host who made our delicious three course meal himself and joined us for great conversation. This cute town also boasts a quirky bar run by an extremely enthusiastic guy who generously offered us ham as apperitivo (which we politely declined in Spanish as vegans)- then cheese (another polite decline) then cheerfully presented a giant container of plump olives (rejoicing all round!).

    If you do write a book or would like more opinions from other pilgriming vegans we’d love to help you out:) Thanks for a stroll down Camino memory lane:)

    • Thanks for sharing your experience! I’m so glad to hear that you also ate well as vegans on the Camino. The Albergue de Ada looks great! We didn’t stay in Reliegos; instead we stayed in nearby El Burgo Ranero and had a couple of wonderful vegan meals at a veg-friendly restaurant called La Costa del Adobe. I’ll be sure to check out Reliegos the next time. And thank you so much for your offer to help with the book research! I’ve got other projects on my plate at the moment, so it will be awhile before I can get to it, but eventually, I will be in touch!

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