Veganism has surged in global popularity over recent years, with increasing numbers of people adopting plant-based diets for reasons ranging from health, animal welfare, to concerns over climate change. Parallel to this trend, vegan travel has also flourished, offering a unique way for vegans to experience the world, savor local cuisines, and promote sustainable tourism.
Portugal, known for its rich history, scenic landscapes, and diverse gastronomy, has evolved as a compelling destination for vegan travelers. Recognizing this shift, Portugal’s culinary landscape has seen a substantial rise in vegan-friendly establishments, and it’s cities and towns teem with innovative vegan eateries that preserve the country’s gastronomic heritage while adhering to plant-based principles. This guide to vegan travel in Portugal will explore where to eat and what to do, ensuring a rewarding experience for those exploring the country through a vegan lens.
- Traveling as a vegan in Portugal has become more accessible due to the country’s increasing acceptance of veganism.
- Major cities like Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Sintra, and Faro offer diverse vegan dining options, from traditional Portuguese cuisine adaptations to innovative plant-based eateries.
- Vegan travelers can participate in cooking classes, wine tours, and local food festivals for unique food experiences.
- There are also vegan-friendly accommodations available, ranging from luxury hotels to guesthouses.
- Portugal supports the vegan lifestyle beyond just food, with vegan clothing stores, product shops, and vibrant vegan communities.
- Embracing a vegan lifestyle in Portugal not only allows you to enjoy delicious plant-based meals but also contributes to environmental sustainability and animal welfare.
Veganism in Portugal
In the past decade, the acceptance and prevalence of veganism in Portugal have grown exponentially. Portugal has been traditionally known as a country with a meat and seafood-heavy diet, but the rising awareness about health and environmental issues has brought about a change in people’s attitudes towards plant-based diets. Many Portuguese citizens, especially younger generations, are embracing veganism, thus making it a mainstream lifestyle choice rather than a niche trend. Cities like Lisbon and Porto are now home to thriving vegan communities and are dotted with numerous vegan restaurants, cafés, and grocery stores.
Traditional Portuguese cuisine is rich and diverse, reflecting the country’s seafaring history and regional agricultural wealth. Staples include seafood, cured meats, cheese, and pastries—all heavily reliant on animal products. However, the surge in veganism has led to the ingenious vegan adaptation of these traditional dishes. For instance, ‘Caldo Verde,’ a hearty soup made from potatoes, collard greens, and chorizo, has been creatively reinvented using vegan sausages. ‘Pastéis de Nata,’ the world-famous Portuguese custard tart, now has its vegan versions that preserve the original’s creaminess and flavor without using eggs or dairy. These adaptations allow vegan travelers to enjoy the essence of Portuguese culinary tradition, aligning it with their dietary preferences.
Tips for Vegan Travelers in Portugal
- Communication is key to enjoying a vegan lifestyle in Portugal. Knowing some basic Portuguese phrases can help you express your dietary needs clearly.
“Eu sou vegano” means “I am vegan”.
“Isso contém produtos animais?” – “Does this contain any animal products?”
“Isso é vegano?” – “Is this vegan?”
Always specify “sem carne, peixe, ovos, leite, manteiga, queijo” which means “without meat, fish, eggs, milk, butter, cheese”. It may also be useful to learn words for specific ingredients you wish to avoid.
- Certain Portuguese dishes might seem vegan at first glance but might contain animal products.
For instance, breads might sometimes be baked with butter or eggs, and vegetable soups are often made with a base of chicken or fish stock. Even dishes like ‘Arroz de Pato’ (duck rice) which might seem like they could be vegan if the duck is left out, are traditionally cooked in duck fat. Thus, it’s crucial to double-check with restaurant staff about the ingredients.
- Other tips for maintaining a vegan lifestyle in Portugal include doing research in advance.
There are several online resources, forums, and blogs where you can find the best vegan restaurants and stores in different Portuguese cities. Consider booking accommodation with cooking facilities so you can prepare some meals yourself using fresh local produce from markets. Also, take the opportunity to sample Portugal’s vast range of local fruits, vegetables, and grains. Lastly, keep an open mind and be patient. While veganism is growing in Portugal, not all establishments may be familiar with the concept, especially in more rural areas. Patience and understanding will go a long way in promoting the vegan lifestyle.
- Carry Vegan Snacks
Always keep vegan snacks handy for times when vegan options may not be readily available, especially while traveling in rural or remote areas. This could be anything from nuts and fruits to vegan bars or biscuits.
- Learn to Appreciate Portuguese Wines
Portugal is famous for its wide variety of wines, many of which are vegan, as they don’t use animal-derived fining agents. Research or ask about which local wines are vegan-friendly to complement your meals.
- Local Vegan Events
Stay updated about local vegan events like food festivals, farmer’s markets, and pop-ups happening in the city you’re visiting. These events are not only fun to attend but are also a great way to connect with the local vegan community.
- Use Vegan Apps
Utilize vegan apps like HappyCow, Vegman, or Vegan Maps. These apps can help locate vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants, stores, and even accommodation near you.
- Custom Vegan Tours
Some travel agencies in Portugal offer custom vegan tours that include visits to vegan restaurants, vineyards, organic farms, and cooking classes. This could be an enjoyable way to explore the local vegan scene.
- Pack Vegan Essentials
Depending on your personal needs, packing vegan essentials such as a portable spice kit, a travel-size non-dairy milk pack, or even a small blender for smoothies can make your travel experience smoother and more enjoyable.
Vegan-Friendly Cities in Portugal
- Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, has witnessed a considerable boom in the vegan scene over the years. This cosmopolitan city has embraced veganism with open arms, making it a vegan paradise with an array of vegan restaurants, shops, and markets that cater to every preference and palate. From innovative plant-based eateries to vegan-friendly traditional restaurants, Lisbon has it all.
- Among the top-rated vegan restaurants in Lisbon are ‘AO 26 – Vegan Food Project’, renowned for its creative takes on Portuguese classics, and ‘The Food Temple’ which offers an ever-changing menu featuring seasonal ingredients. For shopping, ‘Sapato Verde’ is a great vegan store offering a range of products from food items to vegan shoes and clothing. The city also hosts a number of farmer’s markets where you can find organic, locally grown produce; the ‘Mercado Biológico do Príncipe Real’ is a favorite among locals.
- Porto, known for its enchanting old town and wine cellars, is not far behind in the vegan movement. The city’s rising vegan scene has seen an increase in the number of establishments that offer plant-based options alongside traditional Portuguese fare. Porto’s vegan scene is diverse, with several restaurants, cafes, and shops catering to the vegan lifestyle.
- Among Porto’s vegan culinary hotspots is ‘Black Mamba – Burgers & Records’ which combines delicious vegan burgers with a unique record store ambiance. ‘Da Terra’ is a popular restaurant with a buffet-style offering that changes daily, presenting a variety of fresh, plant-based dishes. For vegan grocery shopping, ‘Biovivas’ offers a wide range of products from fresh produce to vegan cosmetics. And don’t forget to visit the ‘Mercado do Bolhão’, a traditional market that sells fresh fruits, vegetables, and other regional products.
- Faro, a gem in Portugal’s Algarve region, has also joined the country’s vegan revolution. Known for its scenic beauty, Faro now hosts an impressive range of vegan-friendly establishments, creating a welcoming environment for plant-based food lovers.
- One standout eatery is ‘Gengibre E Canela’ which offers a tasty assortment of vegan options. For a quick snack or coffee, ‘Mel & Limão’ is a charming vegan café that serves delicious pastries and sandwiches. The ‘Mercado Municipal de Faro’, the city’s main market, is the place to go for fresh fruits, vegetables, and local products. Additionally, Faro’s health food stores like ‘Algartalhos’ also stock a good selection of vegan groceries.
- Coimbra, a riverfront city in central Portugal known for its preserved medieval old town and the historic University of Coimbra, has also been catching up with the vegan trend. With a good number of establishments offering vegan-friendly menus, it’s become an appealing destination for vegan travelers.
- ‘Green Market Coimbra’ is a must-visit for anyone seeking plant-based food options, serving delectable vegan dishes with a healthy twist. ‘Praxis Coimbra’, while primarily a brewery, offers a surprising array of vegan-friendly options on their menu. Coimbra’s municipal market, ‘Mercado D. Pedro V’, offers a variety of local produce and other vegan-friendly food options.
- Sintra, an enchanting town near Lisbon known for its 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, is also embracing the vegan lifestyle. Although smaller than the other cities mentioned, Sintra’s vegan food scene is steadily growing.
- ‘Naked’ is a well-loved spot offering an entirely vegan menu featuring a variety of delicious options, from hearty meals to mouthwatering desserts. ‘Café Saudade’ offers some vegan options and is a great place to enjoy the town’s ambiance. Visit ‘Sintra Market’ for an assortment of fresh local fruits, vegetables, and other vegan essentials.
Each city in Portugal offers a unique culinary experience for vegans. It’s a wonderful opportunity to explore and savor the regional flavors that each locale uniquely presents, all while staying true to a vegan lifestyle.
Vegan Food Experiences in Portugal
Vegan cooking classes
Participating in vegan cooking classes or workshops can be an incredibly enriching experience during your visit to Portugal. These classes give you a hands-on opportunity to learn about traditional Portuguese dishes and how to create vegan versions of them. Lisbon’s ‘Veg Food Lab’ offers exciting cooking workshops where you can learn to prepare a variety of vegan dishes. In Porto, the ‘Vegan Cooking Class’ by Cookery Porto walks you through creating a vegan meal inspired by Portuguese cuisine.
Portugal’s thriving wine industry has seen an increasing number of vineyards producing vegan-friendly wines. In the world-renowned Douro Valley, several vineyards, including ‘Quinta de La Rosa’ and ‘Quinta do Crasto’, offer wine tours where they discuss their vegan winemaking processes. This allows vegan visitors to enjoy Portugal’s famed wine scene without compromising their values. Always remember to check in advance if the wineries adhere to vegan winemaking practices.
Food tours and vegan festivals
Other vegan-friendly food experiences in Portugal include food tours and vegan food festivals. ‘Lisbon Vegan Food Tours’ offer guided tours around the city’s best vegan eateries, making it a delicious and educational experience. Several cities, including Lisbon and Porto, host annual vegan food festivals where local and international vegan chefs showcase their culinary creations. Additionally, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit local farmer’s markets to indulge in the rich variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other local vegan products
Engaging in these vegan food experiences allows you to immerse yourself in Portugal’s food culture, providing not only delicious meals but also deepening your understanding and appreciation for the country’s culinary heritage.
Vegan-Friendly Accommodations in Portugal
Finding accommodations that cater to vegan travelers is becoming increasingly easier in Portugal. In Lisbon, ‘The Lisboans’ apartments come with fully equipped kitchens that allow you to cook your own meals, and they provide plant-based breakfast options. The ‘Porto Vegan Guesthouse’ in Porto is fully vegan and offers a plant-based breakfast along with cooking facilities. ‘Casa Modesta’ in Algarve offers vegan meal options upon request and promotes sustainable practices throughout their property. For a luxurious vegan experience, ‘Six Senses Douro Valley’ provides vegan-friendly options in their restaurant and can cater to vegan preferences in their breakfast buffet.
When looking for vegan-friendly accommodations, look for places that not only offer vegan food options but also align with the overall vegan philosophy. This means that they should avoid using animal-derived products in their furnishings, toiletries, and other amenities. Some accommodations also promote sustainability by minimizing waste, conserving water and energy, and offering cruelty-free and eco-friendly toiletries.
How to Support Vegan Lifestyle in Portugal?
Portugal is home to a growing number of stores that cater to the vegan lifestyle beyond just food. ‘Sapato Verde’ in Lisbon and ‘The Green Beauty Concept’ in Porto offer a range of vegan clothing, shoes, cosmetics, and other lifestyle products. In addition to physical stores, many online platforms in Portugal cater to vegan shoppers.
Portugal has a vibrant vegan community that organizes numerous events and festivals throughout the year. The ‘VeggieWorld Lisbon’ is a significant vegan event showcasing a wide range of vegan products from food to clothing. ‘Veganário Fest’ is another annual festival in Lisbon that celebrates the vegan lifestyle with food stalls, workshops, live music, and talks. In terms of community, ‘Os Vegans de Portugal’ is an active Facebook group where members share information and experiences about living a vegan lifestyle in Portugal. These events and communities offer an excellent platform to connect with like-minded individuals and support each other in maintaining a vegan lifestyle.
Portugal, with its growing vegan scene and increasing embrace of the vegan lifestyle, offers a wealth of experiences for vegan travelers. Its diverse array of vegan-friendly restaurants, stores, accommodations, and activities is a testament to the country’s evolving culinary and cultural landscape. Exploring Portugal as a vegan not only allows you to indulge in delectable plant-based versions of traditional Portuguese dishes but also provides an opportunity to contribute to the sustainability of the environment, promote animal welfare, and connect with like-minded people. Whether you’re meandering through the winding streets of Lisbon, exploring the beautiful vineyards of the Douro Valley, or soaking up the sun on the Algarve’s stunning beaches, a fulfilling vegan journey awaits you in Portugal.
So pack your bags, learn a few handy Portuguese phrases, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable Portuguese vegan adventure!