Although Spain is known as the land of Serrano ham, there are more and more restaurants emerging that cater to vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets. In the last 5 years there’s been an impressive surge. It’d be impossible to list all of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the country, but simply keep in mind that bigger cities + more people = higher demand for alternative diets.
For those based in Madrid, here’s a preview of what you can expect:
Vegan / Vegetarian Brunch:
Vegan / Vegetarian Burgers:
Vegan / Vegetarian Hot Dogs:
No como carne -- I don’t eat meat.
Soy vegana/o-- I am vegan.
Soy vegetariana/o-- I am vegetarian.
No puedo tomar productos con lactosa-- I can’t eat products with lactose.
Esto lleva leche / carne / pescado / queso?-- Does this have milk / meat / fish / cheese?
Es 100% vegetariano? -- Is it 100% vegetarian? (often used instead of vegan in Spain)
Soy alérgica/o-- I’m allergic
No como huevos-- I don’t eat eggs.
Yo no como productos animales-- I don’t eat animal products.
Se puede hacer sin leche / queso / carne / pescado? -- Can it be made without milk / cheese / meat / fish?
Si mantequilla / queso / atún / huevo / pollo / gambas, por favor. -- Without butter / cheese / tuna / egg / chicken / prawns, please.
When Out & About:
Ensaladilla Rusa is like potato salad, but it has mayonnaise, tuna and egg in it.
House salad comes with both tuna and eggs.
Vegetable sandwich also usually has eggs and mayonnaise on it.
Here are some vegan Spanish tapas:
PIMIENTOS DE PADRÓN
These are mild, green peppers from the Padrón region of A Coruña, Galicia. They're tasty, and really easy to find. They are sautéed in olive oil then drizzled with rock salt afterwards. In a sea of ham and eggs, you'll thank your lucky stars for a splash of green, trust!
GAZPACHO & SALMOREJO
Gazpacho originally comes from Andalucía where it's hot AF like all the time, so yeah, a cold, fresh tomato soup makes perfect sense! It's usually served in a glass if it's done traditionally, or a bowl topped with fresh cucumber and diced green and red pepper. I may or may not drink it by the liter during July and August. No judgment!
Salmorejo is another cold tomato based soup; but it is made with bread, olive oil, and garlic. It's usually topped with boiled egg and bits of jamón because, Spain. So, if you prefer the creamy salmorejo to the lighter gazpacho, ask them to hold the egg and ham. You may get a few looks, but it's worth it.
ESPINACAS CON GARBANZOS
This is basically spinach and chickpeas. The key is fresh spinach, high-quality garlic and olive oil. Simple pleasures, friends. How are you feeling? More optimistic, I hope!
BERENJENAS CON MIEL
Everyone loves eggplant, right! How about lightly battered eggplant with honey (not purely vegan, but you decide!) drizzled on top? Have I got your attention yet! This dish also originates from Andalucía, and fortunately for us, it's made its way throughout the peninsula.
CHAMPIÑONES AL ALJILLO
Garlicy, salty, mushroomy goodness! Garlic and olive oil will become your best friend while living in Spain, real talk. This dish is also very easy to find, but I'd make sure that they don't add ham to it just in case! The experience is that much better without having to stop every 4 seconds to pick out a bacon bit!
EMERGENCIES ONLY: PATATAS BRAVAS
If you find yourself in a vegan desert... you can always rely on the tried and true patatas bravas. They are diced potatoes served with a spicy (but, not really) sauce on the side. This is a risky choice as sometimes the potatoes are over or even under cooked. The sauce is usually not very spicy, at least by the hot sauce guzzler's palate. In short, it's pretty basic. That said, with the other options on the list, you should be set!
Quick, simple, no frills! Here is just the guide you need to get you on your vegan (or vegetarian) way! When in doubt, ask tons of questions. It may seem intimidating at first, but you have every right to put your health and dietary choices as a priority.
Danni, Community + Content Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid. Lover of language, words, and travel, she's managed to combine all of her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flight deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful husband. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.