The summer before I moved to Spain, I became fully vegan after some years of a vegetarian diet. I spent that entire summer in California where there is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, vegan restaurants, and vegan options at normal restaurants. I actually did not find the switch to veganism to be difficult at all because of the high-accessibility of produce and vegan substitute options.
Once I moved to Spain, however, I found that maintaining a fully vegan diet here was much more difficult task. Typical Spanish foods and dishes are usually not vegan friendly.
I live in Barcelona, and I would go out on a limb to say that ‘vegan scene’ is quite similar in larger cities in Spain like Madrid, Valencia, or Zaragoza. Veganism is the newest fad raging in the streets. There are countless advertisements and articles circulating about the benefits of a vegan diet.
Everytime I go grocery shopping, there are new vegan options available like soy yogurt, veggie patties, and vegan ice cream. The other day I was in an organic store and found vegan cheese!
Everytime I turn around I see a new vegan restaurant or green juice shop. I think it is great! The only downside is it is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. These fad shops and restaurants are beautifully decorated and have immaculately elaborated vegan dishes, but breakfast and a (vegan) latte for one could cost upwards of $25/person.
Just last week, I paid $9.50 on a cinnamon roll!
Maintaining a vegan lifestyle in a large city in Spain is not impossible, but you would need to be willing to fork out quite a bit of cash.
Cooking at Home
What about cooking at home? I can only speak from my own experiences in all of this, but Spain has a lot of great fresh seasonal fruit and vegetable options for a very reasonable price. You can actually save a pretty penny by shopping for fruit and vegetables in produce stores instead of the grocery store. I am able to prepare healthy, vegan meals at home for very cheap. There are some awesome new cookbooks that veganize typical Spanish food.
Other Parts of Spain
In other parts of Spain, from my experience, maintaining a vegan diet can be less plausible. Obviously there is produce wherever you go, but in many places, especially in smaller, more rural towns, high-quality produce is much more difficult to come by. And forget about vegan restaurants, it is nearly impossible to find vegan options at a normal restaurant.
I have done my fair share of travelling around Spain, and the cities with the most vegan options are, by far, Barcelona and Madrid. Then there are regions like Andalucia, Aragon, Asturias, Galicia, Basque Country, Castilla La Mancha, etc that will surely have some great restaurants, but not as much of a variety of vegan options.
Soooo, are you still vegan?
Since I have moved to Spain, I tend to stick to a vegan diet, but I wouldn’t consider myself vegan anymore. Most of the food that I buy and prepare myself is vegan. Every once and a while, I will add a cage free egg to a home-cooked meal. If I am eating out or at someone’s house, I will avoid eating meat if I can, but if not, I don’t sweat it. Crossing cultures can be complicated at times, and I never want to offend anyone by not eating something they have prepared for me. My number one priority is health, so as long as I am healthy, I am happy.
Put simply, YES, it is possible to be vegan in Spain. The difficulty level of maintaining the vegan diet is strongly dependent on the region in which you live or visit, and your economic level. Regardless of where you live, it is possible to prepare vegan meals at home, and there are some very innovative recipes to veganize typical Spanish food.
If you are vegan and are planning on visiting Spain, don’t fret. I am sure you will be able to make it work. If you are planning on staying in Spain long term, keep in mind all of the abovementioned.
Thank you SOOOO much for all of your amazing feedback on my blog. If you have any questions about veganism or Spanish food in general, feel free to shoot me a DM on Instagram @spainincolor or comment here.