Spain For Vegetarians !

Spain has a reputation as not being a great place for vegetarians. Perhaps the images of bullfights and restaurants lined with rows of Serrano ham hanging from the ceiling don't bode too well for vegetarian travellers. Personally I have never had any problems finding vegetarian food in Spain. Admittedly I do eat eggs and dairy products and a vegan would be more limited when eating in restaurants, but there is no need to go hungry. If you know a little about Spanish food you should have no trouble finding something to eat without compromising your principles.

Common Spanish dishes suitable for vegetarians

Sometimes a little knowledge can go a long way. Here are some typical Spanish dishes that are suitable for vegetarians and are commonly found on menues throughout Spain:

Olives (watch out sometimes they have the pip
removed and are filled with anchovies)
Green Salad (Vegan)Ensalada verde
Greek SaladEnsalada griega
Boiled potatoes and greens (Vegan)Hervido de patatas con acelgas
Spinach with pine-nuts and raisins (Vegan)Espinacas con pasas y piñones
Spinach with chickpeas (Vegan)Espinacas con garbanzos (Espinacas a la Andaluza)
Green beans with potatoes (Vegan) (sometimes contains onion - add olive oil to tasteJudias tiernas con patatas
Spanish OmeletteTortilla de patatas
Plain OmeletteTortilla francesa
Cheese OmeletteTortilla francesa con queso
Scrambled eggsHuevos revueltos
Scrambled eggs with mushroomsRevuelto de champiñones (setas)
Scrambled eggs with AsparagusRevuelto de espárragos (trigueros)
Scrambled eggs with potatoesHuevos estrellados / huevos rotos
Boiled rice with tomatoe sauce and a fried egg on topArroz a la cubana
Asparagus with mayonnaise ( Note- fresh asparagus is refered to as "trigueros" and is normally cooked "a la plancha")Espárragos con mayonesa
Cooked mixed vegetables (Vegan)Menestra de verduras / Verduras a la plancha
RatatouillePisto (*warning - although this dish can be vegetarian
some recipes use chicken stock)
Ratatouille with fried egg(s)Pisto con huevos
Cooked Aubergine,Onions and peppers with
olive oil (served cold) (Vegan)
Fried Aubergine with Honey (Tapa)Berenjenas fritas con miel
Fried potatoes with spicy sauce (Tapa)Patatas bravas
Fried potatoes with garlic sauce (Tapa)Patatas alioli
Fried salted small green peppers (Vegan)(Tapa)Pimientos del padrón
Spinach and pine-nut cannelloniCanelones de espinacas y piñones
Cold tomato/vegetable soup (Vegan)Gazpacho
Sliced artichoke fried in batterChips de alcachofas
Whole roast artichoke (Vegan)Alcachofas asadas
Vegetable paella (*warning unless you're in a vegetarian
restaurant this will be made with meat stock*)
Paella vegetal (Paella de verduras)
Cheese baguetteBocadillo de queso
Omelette baguetteBocadillo de tortilla
Bread with pulped tomato and olive oil (Vegan)Pan con tomate

Vegetarian "False Friends"

I think the main danger for vegetarians in Spain is the fact that tuna, ham and bacon in small quantities are not considered to be meat ! This can lead to some nasty surprises. Common ones to avoid are:

Bocadillo vegetalThis in theory would be a vegetable sandwich but in practice normally contains Tuna
Setas salteadasFried mushrooms. Normally contains bacon
Guisado de lentejasLentil stew. Commonly contains bacon or chorizo

You should also be aware that soups are normally made with meat stock and croissants and other pastries are usually made with lard (manteca) rather than butter (mantequilla)

Useful Spanish phrases for vegetarians

I am vegetarianSoy vegetariano
Are there any dishes which don't contain meat¿Hay algún plato que no lleve carne?
Could I have an omelette with salad please ?¿Me podrían hacer una tortilla francesa y una ensalada verde, por favor?

The last phrase is like the vegetarian equivalent of a “get out of jail free card" Spanish restaurants are generally pretty flexible and even if theres nothing on the menu you can eat they can normally rustle you up something. In fact I've been to restaurants with nothing for vegetarians on the menu and ended up eating better than my meat eating friends !

Vegetarian Restaurants in Spain

Thankfully vegetarian food is growing in popularity in Spain and there are vegetarian restaurants in most large cities. The following are some vegetarian restaurants we have eaten at and recommend in towns mentioned elsewhere in this website.

  • Arc Iris - C/ Roger de Flor 216, Barcelona - Web
  • L'Hortet - C/ Pintor Fortuny 32, Barcelona - Web
  • More Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Barcelona
  • Amaltea - C/ Diputacion 164, Barcelona - Web
  • Restaurante Raices - C/ Pablo Picasso 30, Granada - Web
  • Restaurante A Tulla * - Rua Entreruas 1, Santiago de Compostela - Web
  • Restaurante Habanita * - C/ Golfo 3, Seville - Web
  • Restaurante Fuxion * - C/ Santa Angela de la Cruz 37, Seville
  • Chilimosa - C/ Peso 6, Tarifa - Web
  • Eco Centre - C/San Sebastian 6, Tarifa - Web
  • Madre Tierra - Bajada de la Triperia 2, Toledo - Web
  • La Lluna - C/ San Ramon 23, Valencia - Web
  • Restaurante/Coqueria La Cucafera * - C/ Canyelles 3, Vic - Web

* Please note that the restaurants marked with an asterisk aren’t purely vegetarian restaurants but have a good selection of vegetarian dishes on their menu.

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