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.
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.
- Rather than listing individual restaurants here, check out the detailed blog of Australian – kindergood’s 2016 Camino (www.akinderway.wordpress.com). As well as including several recipes in the blog, he has compiled a comprehensive list of places to eat and buy vegetarian/vegan food options—a useful (excel or pdf) one-page guide for vegetarian/vegan pilgrims to carry: https://akinderway.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/a-list-of-vegetarian-places-to-eat-on-the-camino .
- Caitlin Galer-Unti provides a wealth of advice for vegan pilgrims on her website The Vegan Word (https://theveganword.com/vegan-trekking-camino-de-santiago/ ).
- Another resource for those who can read Spanish is www.guiavegana.net; and for Camino del Norte pilgrims in the Basque Country and Navarra, there is Mi Universo Verde: http://miuniversoverde.com/direcciones/where-to-eat-vegan-vegetarian-basque-country .
- A handy resource for those who suffer from food allergies: https://spanishforcamino.com/2018/04/13/tengo-alergia-a/.
- Finally, and perhaps sufficient in itself, there is the free Happy Cow app which details vegan restaurants worldwide: https://www.happycow.net/mobile.
Written by Mary de Paor