Each year Portugal gains increasing popularity among tourists. Its warm climate, rich history and endless ocean beaches conquer the hearts of many travelers.
The north of the country offers thousands of years old castles and monasteries. If you are a fan of surfing – the central beaches of Portugal are waiting for you. In case you like the beaches to be calmer, and the water – warmer, your choice is Algarve.
Well, but what about the cuisine of this wonderful country? All the guidebooks say that it’s simple, but hearty – a lot of seafood, meat, and fruit! This is not very inspiring news for a vegetarian, and especially for a vegan. However, it’s a mistake to think that the Portuguese eat only fish and shellfish.
So, if you prefer organic food and going to visit Portugal, check out the following tips…
#1 Use the HappyCow application!
Yes, it’s a trite advice, but it really works. The large cities of Portugal (Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra) feature a lot of vegetarian restaurants and cafes, and some of them are even completely vegan. All of them actively promote themselves with the help of the HappyCow network. Therefore, it’s very easy to find them and read reviews of the visitors.
Also, there are plenty of spots in the application offering individual vegetarian dishes. Healthy food stores are also marked there. By the way, they often sell ready-made meals. Before leaving the hotel or hostel, be sure to see where to find such cafes on your way, and mark them in advance on a paper map.
#2 Ask about the soup!
99% of the traditional Portuguese restaurants and cafes serve vegetable soup for lunch. It costs very cheap, and it’s cooked of seasonal vegetables.
Here‘s a small dictionary:
Há sopa? – Do you have soup?
Quanto custa ema sopa? – How much does the soup cost?
A sopa só de ligumes ou lava calde de peixe? – The soup was cooked on vegetable broth or on a fish?
Uma sopa, per favor! – One serving of soup, please!
Duas sopas, per favor! – Two servings of soup, please!
Obrigado! – Thank you!
And if the soup is on fish broth, then you will need the next tip…
#3 Eat bread and olives!
All the Portuguese restaurants offer such a useful thing as ‘entradas’ – small starting meals. Most often, a waiter brings them without asking. Traditionally, ‘entradas’ includes a few pieces or scones of fragrant bread, a bowl with local olives and a couple of ‘samplers’ with butter and melted cheese. The last ones are not interesting for vegans, but the freshest Portuguese bread with olives is an excellent and very hearty meal!
If you order a soup, then it’s much tastier with bread.
#4 Order a salad and French fries!
Yes, we know what you are thinking of. Who eats the French fries in the restaurant? The answer is the Portuguese! They like it so much that they eat French fries everywhere and always.
Just order batata frita if you’re not frightened by a large amount of oil and salt in the food. However, when you are very hungry after going around the thirteenth castle in a row, potato is exactly what will refresh your forces!
The traditional Portuguese salad, which is served everywhere, is also vegan. Green lettuce, tomato, onion rings, sometimes cucumber, grated carrots and grated raw beets – all this is densely poured with olive oil and the salad is ready.
#5 Eat in secret places
And finally, a small list of the ‘secret’ vegan spots of Lisbon.
Tao (R. dos Douradores 10)
This is a small macrobiotic cafe, open only on weekdays at lunchtime. Food is usually for vegans, the fish is served on Wednesdays. Tao is also a perfect choice, because it’s possible to enjoy there a tasty vegan dinner just for 4 euros.
Jardim das Cerejas (Calçada Sacramento 36)
It offers vegan buffet, where you can have nourishing meal at a very nice price. It’s considered to be one of the best vegan cafes, but this place is secret because of their desserts. They are simply incredibly delicious, and, most importantly – free of animal products.
Celeiro (R. 1º de Dezembro 51)
This is a network of stores selling products for a healthy diet. It offers vegetable substitutes for meat and milk, chia and goji seeds, gluten-free bread and rice cakes. In Seleiro you can also find fresh pies with mushrooms and seaweed, buns with lentils and vegetables.
Gelados Fragoleto (Rua da Prata 61)
This is an Italian ice cream parlor. Fragoleto is in this list because it sells not only the common ice cream and fruit ice, but also real vegan ice cream (made of soybean), and even of different tastes. It’s what you really need in the hot Portuguese summer!
As you see, Portugal is a great destination that will not create inconvenience for the vegans. Of course, only in case you’ll follow these tips. So, another tip is to use a Lisbon car rental during your trip. Reserving a rental car, you can be independent of a public transport, and reach our secret spots much easier and quicker!