How do vegetarians fare on the Camino, when Spain is known for the quality of its meat and fish? A little forward planning and a ‘stock’ of a few useful Spanish phrases will help to ease any problems. Vegetarian pilgrims will find many standard menu choices suitable for them, but it is important to specify when ordering: ‘sin carne, por favor’ (without meat, please), ‘sin pescado ó atún’ (without fish/tuna), or ‘sin huevo’ (without eggs). Some Spanish restaurants/waiters may define ‘vegetarian’ rather loosely—particularly where soups are concerned— lentejas and cocido gallego (Galician cabbage soup) almost invariably have a ham or beef stock base. Many people prefer to take advantage of albergue kitchens, when available, to cook and maybe to share their own preferred cuisine.

General choices:

Bocadillo—the universal sandwich made of crusty white baguettes. Ask for bocadillo de queso, sin jamón, perhaps with optional tomato?

Tortilla de patata—The almost universally available Spanish omelette, made of potatoes, onion and eggs, satisfying and delicious when freshly made. (Just in case ham/sausage may have been added, specify ‘sin chorizo, por favor’.

Vegetarian pasta dishes (from frozen) are available in many cafes/bars. Espaguetis (tomato pasta) is often on the first-course pilgrim menu.

Another first course, menestra de verdura (vegetable stew) sometimes resembles ratatouille, sometimes it is a simple mixture of cooked vegetables.

Ensalada mixta—you can specify ‘sin atún (without tuna), or ‘sin huevo’ (without egg)

Fish: merluza (hake) is a very frequent pilgrim menu option. And atún (tuna) is frequently available too.

Lentejas (lentil soup)—a lovely stand-by along the Camino, but it may be based on a meat stock, so, again, one must ask ‘Está sin carne?’). The same applies to cocido gallego—Galician cabbage soup.

Supermarkets: dried pasta and sauces, microwave rice, tinned fish and vegetables (lentils (lentejas), chickpeas  (garbanzos) and beans (alubias blancos, frijoles), rice cakes, (rarely) peanut butter, salad ingredients, fruit, dried fruits and nuts.

Vegetarian restaurants/cafés and those with known vegetarian menu options:

Now that we can use our mobile phones more cheaply in Europe, one can easily ‘google’ for nearby pizzerias, Indian and Asian restaurants which always have vegetarian options.

 ¡Buen apetito!

Written by Mary de Paor