Eating Vegan in Portugal
If you're a vegan planning to travel to Portugal, you're in luck, as it's incredibly vegan friendly. Unsurprisingly, the easiest places to eat out as a vegan are the two largest cities, Lisbon and Porto. However, there are gems to be found throughout the country. Esther Ardagh-Ptolomey, founder of vegan travel company Kindred Traveller, gives us her picks of the best vegan restaurants in the country.
With a long history of food revolving around fresh fish and meat, you'd be forgiven for thinking that a vegan would struggle in Portugal. In fact, in 2017, they were the first country to make it illegal not to offer a vegan option on the menu in public buildings such as schools, universities, hospitals and prisons. The Portuguese Vegetarian Society pushed the law through with their petition of over 15,000 signatures, and spokesperson Nuno Alvim said 'It will promote diversity of eating habits and encourage more people to choose the veggie options as it becomes more widely available.'
Whilst that law doesn't extend to restaurants and cafes, where you often have a choice to go elsewhere, it goes a long way to demonstrate the country's attitude to veganism.
Lisbon vegan cafes/restaurants
You're spoilt for choice in Lisbon, where you'll find DOZENS of vegan eateries, as well as a whole host of vegan-friendly restaurants. In short, it's a vegan's paradise!
Vegan Junkies in downtown Lisbon is perfect for when you want to satisfy those burger and chips cravings, although I love their loaded nachos. You can head her for lunch, or for an evening meal and cocktails or craft beers after. Whenever you head here, the vibe will be fun, and you can have an absolute feast here.
DaTerra Bairro Alto offers an wide array of dishes to choose from on their buffet. With plenty of salads, soups, and a plethora of hot dishes available, you won't get bored if you make repeat visits. The main reason why you'll want to make a detour here is their vegan pasteis de nata. This iconic Portuguese egg custard tart has been veganised, and they're incredible!
You just need to take one look at the reviews on Trip Advisor to know that you really need to try out Legumi Sushi. Before going vegan, sushi was my favourite food on earth, and if you've missed it then this entirely vegan restaurant is a dream come true. Go for the all you can eat tasting menu, and order wine from their vegan wine list.
Porto vegan cafes/restaurants
While Lisbon seemingly has a vegan restaurant on every corner, Porto isn't too shabby on the plant-based front either.
Arguably the best vegan restaurant in Porto is Remedio Santo, which went fully vegan as recently as March 2019. It's a bit of an uphill walk from the waterfront, but the Quesadillas, seitan steaks, and desserts are definitely worth the journey.
Arvore do Mundo is just off the historical hub of Porto with a menu that varies daily. Both an art gallery and handicraft store, this restaurant has real colour and atmosphere. If it's available, choose the vegan cheese platter, made to their own home-made nut cheese recipe.
If you need to stock up on some supplies while you're out for coffee, then Vegana By Tentugal is the place to go. This vegan grocery store is also a cafe which specialises in organic produce. There's a daily menu if you feel like trying their tasty grilled 'cheese' sandwiches.
Other Vegan and vegetarian cafes/restaurants to note
Because of the abundance of vegan eateries in Lisbon and Porto, places further afield often get forgotten. While it's true that things get more challenging out of the main cities, there are still some places that are definitely worth looking up if you're looking to explore other parts of Portugal.
Hokkaido in Portalegre is a vegan japanese and macrobiotic cafeteria. Tourists are few and far between here, and you'll need to reserve a seat.
You'll find vegan tapas and more at Mel & Limao in Faro. Known for its friendly atmosphere and ever-changing menu, the food is wholesome and the opening hours a little unpredictable!
It's the setting as much as the food that you'll love about Mo Bistro in Aljezur. This vegetarian turned vegan restaurant is in a refurbished old mill within Costa Vicentina Natural Park, and the food represents the restaurants core eco-friendly values. There are no artificial preservatives, synthetic pesticides or additives in their food, and the focus is very much on fresh, local, pure food.
Useful vegan or vegetarian Phrases
So, you should be good to go with eating vegan at any of the places above. However, you may find yourself in restaurants that aren't so vegan-focused, so it's always handy to go armed with just a handful of crucial Portuguese words, so that you can be confident that your needs are understood.
I am vegan – Sou vegan
With/without – Com/sem
Do you have soya milk? – Tem leite de soja?
Do you have any vegan options? – Tem alguma opção vegan?
No meat please – Sem carne por favor
Egg – Ovo
Milk – Leite
Fish – Peixe
Photo Credit: @rusticvegan via Unsplash
Esther Ardagh-Ptolomey lives in Devon, England, and after many years of working in animal welfare, she combined this with her love of travel when she founded Kindred Traveller. Specialising in ethical and vegan-friendly package holidays, her company also hosts small group vegan holidays for solo travellers.
Link to website kindred Traveller