all regional travel notes by:
Subject: Vegan in London
It's really easy to be vegetarian and vegan in London. Restaurants all have at least a vegetarian option, if not a vegan one. You can even find vegan snacks in convenience stores. If you're on the go, you can pop into many of these shops (or a Pret a Manger--big chain of sandwich shops) and find a hummus salad sandwich. Holland & Barret is a big chain of health food/ vitamin shops. You can find them all over the place, along with many independent health food shops. Indian restaurants are a good option, but vegans should beware of ghee. Many of the big curry houses use it in abundance and don't offer an alternative. All the major supermarkets have health food and "free from" sections. Sainsbury's carries quite a selection of vegan cookies/biscuits. They also label all of their brand items as suitable for vegetarians or vegans. One of my favorite veggie places is the Chi Vegan Noodle bar on St. Martin's Lane. It's only 6 quid for an all you can eat buffet. Cheaper at lunch, and it's only 3.50 for takeaway.
Subject: Vegan in Vilnius
I spent about 5 days in Vilnius back in November 2005. It was really cold and rainy! I remember eating at Balti Drambliai Vegetarine Kavine. I don\\\'t remember menu items being labeled as vegan. I just guessed and hoped. I didn\\\'t get sick after, so I must\\\'ve guessed right. I remember the food being pretty good. I liked the atmosphere as well. I spent a long time there with my journal. The morning before I left, I went to a place where I had veggie fajitas that were really nice. Other than that, I shopped at a supermarket and cooked my meals in the kitchen at my hostel. Don\\\'t expect the supermarkets to be well stocked with health food stuff, but I managed fine.
I didn\\\'t see much of the city cause the weather was so bad, but what I saw was really nice, and the architecture is really interesting. You should check out Užupis. It\\\'s a self-proclaimed \\\"republic\\\" on the other side of the river. A sort of artist\\\'s colony with galleries and cafes, it has its own President, constitution, and the Angel of Užupis.
Subject: Vegan in Olomouc
I've been to Olomouc a couple of times. I really enjoy this city. It's an excellent place to break up the trip between Prague and Krakow. I highly recommend staying at the Poet's Corner hostel. The staff is really friendly, and there's a kitchen to use as well. They also provide you with a little map of Olomouc with all their favorite things marked on it. There's a health food shop marked on it as well. I went and found it was really well stocked with everything I needed. Watch out for the non-alcoholic beer. I thought it was organic and a friend and I had each lugged a bottle all the way to Paris before discovering our mistake. :-( Czech supermarkets all seem to carry tofu and soy mayonnaise and sometimes soy yogurts and puddings.
Olomouc is just a fun place to go to. You should check out the aeroplane bar. It's in an old Soviet aeroplane. You buzz at the bottom of the stairs are are let up by a guy in uniform. It's really bizarre, overpriced, and all they have is beer in cans and vinegar wine, but it was completely worth it just for one drink. There's some other fun places as well, like Vertigo and Diva bar. It's a student town, so the night life is cool. There are also lots of little trips you can make during the day to nearby castles and swimming holes.
Subject: Vegan in Bratislava
I always seem to get stuck here at the bus or train station on my way to somewhere else. I've really only gone out of my way to visit Bratislava twice. The castle is nice, but it was closed when I was there cause Bush and Putin were meeting there. Boo. The cathedral is really nice as well, but once again, was closed when I was there. Boo again. Did I mention it was near blizzard weather as well? Don't go in February! Still, it's a charming city, and there's some good veggie places. I ate at a Chinese place in the Old Town that was nice as well as some bar that was ironically (for me, at least), corrida-themed. They had some excellent veggie options on the menu though. I've also been to Elixir 14 and the Vega Destination place, which I reviewed, and it wins hands down. I would consider another layover in Bratislava just to eat there again.
Subject: Vegan in Krakow
I spent about 10 days in Krakow in November 2005. I had a blast. Stayed at Nathan's Hostel, which has a kitchen, so I could cook up for myself. I also managed to eat at three restaurants: Momo's, Green Way, and Vega. Momo's was really close to my hostel, so I went there twice. Had the dumplings once, which were tasty, but kind of pricey. I also had the spinach and tofu pancake which was good, but don't expect a lot of tofu. They also have loads of ready made salads and stuff, and you can take them away as well. And there was vegan cake! :-) The atmosphere is really great, and that's why I would go back. Green Way was also really good. It's a Polish vegetarian chain. Brilliant. I can't remember what I had, but it was tasty. Vega was nice as well, but not very imaginative, and not particularly vegan friendly.
Krakow's a fun city to visit. The castle and the Old Town are great and it's near the Salt Mines and Auschwitz. My fiance (he's a teacher) is bringing a school trip to Central Europe this fall and is including Krakow cause he liked it so much and he has a lot of vegetarian students that need to be catered for.
Subject: Vegan in Glasgow
Scotland and the UK are generally pretty easy places to be vegan and even easier to be vegetarian. Everyone knows what the words mean, even if they'll make fun of you for it. Supermarkets carry everything you need, and it's pretty easy to get a veggie dish in any restaurant. I've been to Glasgow twice and had a good time. Even though Edinburgh gets all the credit, Glasgow is a great place to visit with a good night life.
The last time I went, I stayed with a veggie friend. We went to Mono for a pint one night but they'd stopped serving food, so we came back the next day for lunch. I had two desserts including the vegan cheesecake which was tasty. I would definitely go back there.
Subject: Vegan in Lisboa
We LOVED Lisboa! Such a great city. I'd been warned off spending too much time there, but I'm glad we included it in our itinerary. I would gladly go back for a long weekend sometime. It was beautiful, and just had this great feel to it that I can't quite explain.
First things first, we stayed at the Oasis hostel. I always try to stay in places where I'll have access to a kitchen so I'm not dependent on veggie options in restaurants. This is an up-market hostel in a nice area of town. They have private rooms as well as traditional dorms. Everything is brand new and in great condition. The hostel is spread over three different buildings, each with their own kitchen (and free breakfast).
The first place we ate at was Tibetanos. Very nice, cozy place. I had the dumplings, I think my fiance had the crepes. Both were delicious, and service was friendly. They also sell a few things like tofu, tempeh, and teas at the front.
Then we ate at Terra, which was out of this world! I would go back to Lisboa, just to eat there again. It was a bit pricey, but hey, it's a big city, and it was all-you-can-eat. I especially liked that the food was Portuguese. It sucks missing out on trying the traditional foods of countries just cause you're veg, so I was happy about that. The buffet was all nice, healthy foods too. Loads of salad and veg. But the best part was the homemade vegan ice cream. It was the best vegan ice cream I have ever had. Period. I chose the dark chocolate because I wasn't feeling very adventurous that day. The other flavors were rose, Earl Grey, and Indian Spice. Also, at 3.85 a scoop, I didn't want to go wrong! We also had the caramel walnut cake, which was decent, but the ice cream stole the show. I'm drooling just thinking about it.
We also went to the big health food market listed on this site. It was well stocked, but a bit expensive. The regular supermarkets carried soy milk, but that's about it.
Also, you should check out Belem. For ovo-lactos, the area is known for it's custard tarts sprinkled with cinnamon. The bf said they're good, and judging from the crowds, they're very popular.
Go to Lisboa, go to Terra, you won't regret it.
Santiago De Compostela, 2007/05/08
We only spent a night in Santiago on our way to Portugal in late March 2007. I would go back though, as it was a really nice place, more interesting than I had expected. We ate at the veggie restaurant listed on HappyCow. It was tasty, although limited vegan selections and no vegan dessert. The staff was friendly. I can't remember the name of my dish, but it was basically zucchini wrapped around rice with a tomato sauce. It sounds boring and bland, but it was actually DELICIOUS. Just well prepared with the perfect blend of seasonings. Simple and nice. There's another restaurant that is supposed to have a vegan menu, but it was very crowded when we went by. I'll list the info for it on here when I have a chance though. There was also a health food shop. I think the name of the street was New Market or something like that. It was closed cause we were there on a Sunday. I was pleased to find that even the little convenience stores carried things like soy milk. And for the lactos out there, my fiance adored the local smoked cheese he bought. You'll see it in all the shop windows.
Subject: Vegan in Sevilla
My fiance and I visited Sevilla for a few days in April 2007. We had a really nice time. The only place we dined at was Habanita. It was really good, although a bit expensive. Some of the dishes were a bit hit or miss, but overall, we had a good meal. I like that in Spain, you can choose different sizes of the dishes to create exactly what you want.
Veggies should check out the market, as the quality of the produce in supermarkets is pretty low and expensive. There also seems to be a lack of bakeries, as in bread bakeries. There are plenty of places selling cakes and pastries. The supermarkets tend to have a small health food section. I always try to stay in accommodation where I can cook for myself.
Subject: Vegan in Granada
My boyfriend and I spent a few days here in April 2007. We had a really great time. He (omnivore) fell in love with the free tapas. Unfortunately, tapas are not generally vegan friendly, although they can be veg friendly if you ask for them without meat. Vegan options include olives, and spinach with garbanzo beans. You have to watch out for that last one though. One time it came with chunks of sausage, which was unexpected since we'd ordered it other places, and it was vegan. Hmmm.... We did find a couple of vegan friendly tapas bars, however. One was called Marrakesh, and had stuff like hummus and felafel. The other was Japanese fusion and had veggie sushi and stuff like that. When I find the brochure, I'll post it online.
Also, vegans BEWARE of the felafel. Yes, it's abundant, and oh, so tempting, but the pitas they used at absolutely every place I checked at contained milk. Ask for it as a salad instead.
Spain definitely wasn't the most veg-friendly country I've been to, but at least the produce is good, and I stay in hostels with kitchens, so I cook for myself. I recommend the Oasis hostel, cause they have a big group dinner 3 times a week for 3.50 and there's always a veggie option (I got lucky when I was there, and it was all vegan!). Most supermarkets had a small health food section.
One tip about tapas. Sure, they come free with your drinks, but if you really want a substantial snack, go ahead and order an extra. It's cheaper than buying a drink, and you'll avoid the pitfall of getting drunk in the middle of the day when you really just wanted to eat. ;-)
And book tickets for the Alhambra ahead of time online. It'll save you a long time in the line.
Cesky Krumlov, 2007/05/08
Subject: Vegan in Cesky Krumlov
I spent a few days here in October 2005 with a friend. We ate at Laibon at least once a day, it was so good. The service there is friendly, and we got stuffed on free desserts. I didn't get to check out the health food store, cause it had limited opening hours and was closed every time I went by. But I would assume the supermarkets are as well stocked as the rest of the Czech Republic, and carry tofu, etc. I would recommend going to Cesky Krumlov for Laibon alone. It's right on the river, and you can eat outside in nice weather. The waiter we befriended even took us to see a special performance at the castle, which was really nice. Next time I'll go, I'll make sure the weather's better so I can raft down the river, but I suppose that by going in October, I missed the hordes of tourists.
Subject: Vegan in Prague
Prague is actually a wonderful place to be vegan. From Country Life to Albio\\\'s to the tofu sandwich at Bohemia Bagel, I stuff myself silly every time I go. Although traditional Czech cuisine isn\\\'t very veggie friendly, Prague is a big city and it\\\'s easy enough eat well as a vegan. My favorite restaurant is Country Life. I go there for lunch almost every day I\\\'m there, and I do a lot of my shopping at the attached health food store. My fiance and I also really love Clear Head, although mostly for the atmosphere. If they had a decent vegan dessert, I\\\'d be sold.
Czech tea houses are an often overlooked source of veggie food. Most of them have things like couscous and Lebanese pizzas. The major supermarkets all seem to carry tofu (there are 2 Czech brands), vegan mayonnaise (tofuneza or sojaneza, I can\\\'t remember which), and some have vegan yogurts and puddings.
My absolute favorite find in Prague are these excellent tofu pates. They carry them at Albio\\\'s and Country Life. I didn\\\'t know what they were at first, but once a Czech friend served them to me, I was HOOKED! I always stock up on them when I visit now. The best flavors are red pepper and herb.
Subject: Vegan's experience in France
My fiance is from Romans, near Grenoble, so I had the opportunity to visit both back in February 07. I was pleasantly surprised at the selection of vegan products in the supermarkets, even in his small hometown. Contrary to what he remembered, there were loads of soy products. My favorites are Soja Sun yogurts, which strangely enough are different from the ones they distribute in the UK. Anyone know anything about that? Still, they're tasty, and quinoa is also booming. There were loads of options of quinoa in ready to make boxes already seasoned and spiced. Also lots of wheat free pastas, vegan biscuits/cookies, soya desserts, etc. They even have a soy gratin sauce.
We didn't dine out while we were there, as his mum cooked for us every day, but I did go in a couple of health food shops in Grenoble. I'll post them on here when I get a chance. One of them in particular was very impressive, with loads of variety including some nice vegan pate, fresh bread, etc.
On the whole, whoever says being vegan in France is difficult is wrong, at least for this area. On top of all the dry goods available, the quality of the produce is excellent, and let's not forget the bread. Also, bf's mum bought us some excellent vegan dark chocolate from a local chocolatier. Yum. :-)
I spent about 4 days in Split, but didn't go to any of the veggie restaurants cause I was traveling with meat eaters. Croatia in general was not the most veggie-friendly country I've been to. I suppose it's all right for ovo-lactos, but for vegans it gets boring pretty quickly. Be prepared for veggie pasta, veggie pizzas without cheese, and veggie sandwiches. That's about it. To make matters worse, you'll find the same veggies (a frozen mix of green beans, peas, carrots, and sweet corn) on all three. I did have a nice pasta one night at a seafood place, and they were very willing to make it vegan for me. Best meal I had!
I studied abroad in Paroikia, Paros for 6 months, and I have spent several summers living and working on the island as well. Overall, Greece is a very easy country to be a vegetarian or a vegan in. I'm vegan, and never had any problems dining out. It's easier to dine out than in the States or the UK. Traditionally, Greek Orthodox fast from animal products during Lent, so there are plenty of TRADITIONAL vegan options. Not many countries can boast traditional foods for our diet!
My favorite is skordalia (translated as "garlic sauce", it is very pungent puree of potatoes or bread crumbs, raw garlic, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice/vinegar. It's delicious served with beetroot. Other vegan options include briam, which is very similar to ratatouille, although generally not as mushy, and usually includes potatoes; tomatoes and peppers stuffed with rice and herbs; fava (split pea dip topped with onions, capers, and kalamata olives); eggplant salad (ask, as many include mayonnaise); eggplant imam (some include cheese, however); Greek salad or horiatiki without the feta; oh, and I LOVE gigantes (giant beans in tomato sauce).
As I said, it's easy to be vegan, and even easier to be a vegetarian, and in tourist spots, restaurants are used to it. Although many Greeks don't really understand the concept, since they associate it with fasting.
Notes for Paros: Micro Cafe doesn't normally carry soy milk, but you can bring your own and ask them to use it. Happy Green Cow is not very vegan-friendly, but very popular with vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Levantis restaurant in the old town has some excellent veggie options, and is just a wonderful restaurant all around. But most of the tavernas have a wide enough selection of veggie stuff to suit anyone.