Economy/ General/ Restaurants/ Veganism

Portugal’s Lovely Vegan Businesses – which are thriving in spite of the recession in Europe


Europe is in recession; Portugal, Spain and Greece are suffering with especially strong recessions.

Many would agree this may not be a time for starting a business – ……but, a few vegan ethical businesses are flourishing, specially the ones related to Portuguese vegetarian foods.


I was inspired to write this article when I found out that friends of mine, Rafael and Ana, had recently started a 100% vegan business called Naturalmente, and that their business was doing really well. They were growing much more quickly than they had expected. I felt that maybe this crisis might be an open door for small, family ethical businesses. Then I found out other similar businesses were also thriving.

These businesses are big inspirations for me. This is the time for entrepreneurs!

Naturalmente – produtos biologicos, is a Portuguese label of ready-to-eat products, 100% vegan, 100% bio and totally produced in a traditional form.


At the head of Naturalmente is a young couple – Rafael and Ana. They had the desire to link their long term interest in macrobiotic food and vegetarianism to their professional lives.

The project took off in October 2012. This was about the same time that the Portuguese financial crisis and recession hit its peak. This couple have been dedicated to their business on a full-time basis. Their very first year was a success, they quickly started to sell their ready-to-eat products to the best health food stores in Lisbon, Portugal. Now, they not only employ two additional people, but they’re actually thinking about expanding their distribution.

Using only top quality ingredients, their ready made foods include a variety of products such as vegan pies (seitan, tofu, sea weed, tempeh or apple filling) and ‘whole fermented rice’ breads (stuffed either with miso, hokaido pumpkin, apple cream or tahini with soy sauce and lemon). These have a strong traditional Japanese style macrobiotic feel to them.

I have known Rafael for several years now. His commitment to following his beliefs and his ethics were my main source of inspiration for this article of mine.

NAE – vegan shoes


I absolutely love the fact that this company is growing and thriving!

NAE – which means ‘No Animal Exploitation’ – is unique in Portugal. NAE was founded by Paula and Alejandro Perez, a Portuguese/Spanish couple who met when Alejandro came to Portugal to pursue his studies.

Neither of them had any experience or background in the shoe industry before they decided to take the first step and create NAE, nevertheless this was not enough to stop them from trying something new. NAE was born out of three ideals: 1) Their entrepreneur spirit, 2) a deep passion for shoes and 3) because Paula is a vegan & does not used any kind of animal skin leather.

Both Paula and Alejandro understood that a country with such a rich history and solid reputation within the shoe industry, had no label which could offer ecological, cruelty-free high quality stylish products.

NAE’s shoes are not only ‘animal exploitation free’, they couple also make sure that their shoes are produced where there is no sort of human exploitation. Local products such as cork, which is probably the most natural and ecological material in Portugal, are used. In addition NAE uses natural rubber (instead of plastic based materials), linen and cotton.

Already represented in 9 countries – Austria, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Holland, Sweden, UK and USA, and in several cities across Portugal. NAE products can be ordered online. This label will probably bring vegan shoes to another level.




Beco Jasmim 18, 1100-289 Lisboa Portugal


This is the only 100% vegan restaurant in Lisbon. They have a very high rating in  HappyCow’s food reviews . Several satisfied costumers have written glowing reviews.

This project was created by a young Canadian – Alice – who had a dream to build something totally unique at one of the most picturesque historical sites of old Lisbon:

“This project is all about bringing people together with food. It’s about getting to know your neighbors and your community over delicious meals! It’s also about the desire to make connections- between what you eat and where your food comes from, and between the cultural diversity of countries and cuisines here in Mouraria!”

Here’s a short video of this lovely restaurant.


Avenida Sá da Bandeira, C. Comercial Avenida, 2º piso,
3000-033 Coimbra Portugal


Opened in June 2013, The Shanti Cafe offers 2 daily vegan / vegetarian menus and coffee. Here they are –

They use fresh organic ingredients and they are unique in the city of Coimbra.


A version of this article in Portuguese –


By Yara Coelho a passionate vegan traveler and creator of the vegan travel and personal development blog “Heart of a vagabond” Preparing now an epic trip from the Westerner point of Europe to Asia by land as a solo female traveler, exploring all the ethnic vegan delights and restaurants along the way! 

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  • Lottiecrosby (1 comments)
    December 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Do you know of any good places in the algarve?

  • YaraCoelho (2 comments)
    January 2, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I’ve heard of one in Portimao which is 100% vegan, check out the happy cow’s directory 🙂

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