Spain eats a lot of meat and dairy. From Paella to ‘jamon y queso’ to their trademark tortillas, Spain’s signature dishes are not known for being the most vegan friendly – with the notable exception of Gazpacho, pimientos de padron (salted green peppers) and olives of course. However, as veganism takes over the world, so is a plant-based diet on the rise in Spain. Vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants are popping up all over the country – sometimes in the most surprising corners of Spain.
A recent study carried out by Spain-Holiday has pinpointed the ideal locations for vegans in Spain. There’s little worse than having to waste time on holiday scouring a city for a vegan friendly restaurant – time that would be better spent exploring the passageways of a historical old town, or getting some good old vitamin D on the beach.
With that in mind, let’s explore the top six vegan holiday hotspots on the list and the best vegan focused restaurants they have to offer:
Coming in first place is – everyone’s favorite European city – Barcelona. Perhaps this should come as no surprise as the Catalan city has a well-earned reputation as a bit of a bohemian paradise and where there’s bohemians, there’s vegans.
There are many vegan restaurants in Barcelona, most especially in the rather trendy – or “chulo” – area of Raval. They range from the quaint and cute like A Tu Bola and The Vegan Corner (with pillowed outdoor seating to watch the world go by) to bigger names like Teresa Charles, Flax & Kale and Veggie Garden (who serve an amazing vegan curry). Across Gran Via in the Gothic Quarter, you’ll find Vegan CatBar, which is as bohemian as it gets with its quirky cat decor, yummy vegan burgers and craft beets.
Santiago de Compostela
All roads lead to Santiago, literally, as it is the end point of Spain’s many “Caminos” – hiking/pilgrimage routes that crisscross Northern Spain. Found in the region of Galicia – famous for having octopus as one of its principal dishes – it’s perhaps a little ironic that it is also home to the second largest number of vegan eateries per capita in Spain. The majority are peppered around the center and old town, some of the best being Entre Pedras – a laid back café with cocktails to wash down vegan goodies – and the aptly named plant-filled Green House Restaurant, specializing in plant-based Asian fusion food.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Far to the South of mainland Spain are the perpetually sun kissed Canary Islands. The group of islands enjoy the African sun all year round, thus making them a firm favorite among holiday goers. The capital of Tenerife is third on our list as a vegan oasis with cafés and restaurants galore. Umami Good Food is a quality vegan restaurant/café among them that has an authentic Spanish feel to it – and makes a wonderfully refreshing Gazpacho. Whereas, Sweet Paradise is a cosy feeling café with the best vegan cakes on the island.
Tucked snugly in a valley deep within Andalusia sits the alluring city of Granada. The Alhambra palace towers majestically over one of the most Spanish of the Spanish cities, where you’ll find flamenco, historical buildings, hippies and the most generous portioned tapas in all Spain. Furthermore, the majority come free with every drink – or a drink comes with every tapa depending on your perspective. Some restaurants like to put their own spin on their tapas and a large portion cater to the growing number of vegans – so be sure to tell the servers you’re vegan before getting drinks.
The city also has a big “hippy” population that you’ll often see strumming acoustic guitars up in Plaza Nueva as well as it being a university town – perhaps this half explains the amount of vegan friendly places in the city. All are found in the center such as Wild Foord – sporting a rather stylish interior – and Restaurante Vegano Hicuri, which gives a plant-based spin on an array of global food.
Palma de Mallorca
Mallorca has a bit of a reputation for the European tourists who swarm its shores every year, second only to its neighboring “party island” Ibiza. However, Palma de Mallorca has more to offer than just nightlife. Ranking 5th on the list of most vegan friendly cities in all Spain, it has many vegan focused eateries scattered around the center, old town and port.
La Mujer de Verde means ‘the Green Lady’ ́and she is indeed a capricious lady of a restaurant with an extremely creative menu which changes every week. They also offer a budget friendly set three-course menu. Ca n’Ela Vegan restaurant is another charming option tucked away on a side street near the cathedral that has an intimate feel and tasty menu cooked by one of the owners – and somewhat of a locally famous vegan chef – Ella.
The Basque Country up in the north is known for having some of the best food in Spain – notably their ‘pinchos’ (small slices of bread with a creative array of possible additions to, often with Vegan options). San Sebastian – besides being jaw-droppingly beautiful with an unforgettable curved coastline and promenade – is known for epitomizing this, is considered to be the food capital of Spain and has the second most Michelin Star per capita in not just Spain, but the whole world.
As such it should come as no surprise, as veganism becomes a growing trend, that it rates highly as a vegan friendly location and has some of the best vegan-friendly restaurants in Spain are found here. Almost all the restaurants offer a great range of vegan food, but Mapa Verde deserves a special mention for being the only restaurant with a 100% vegan menu – its vegan tiramisu is to die for. KM. O is another great option and the best for those aforementioned vegan pinchos.
Spain might not be the most vegan of countries – but where it vegans, it vegans well. Check out the statistics for the most vegan-friendly cities yourself below.