A few years ago, Portugal was a vegan’s worst nightmare. Most Portuguese dishes contain either meat or fish, and to not include either is pretty much unthinkable. Even soups like Caldo Verde, which is mainly made of cabbage and potato, includes a few obligatory slices of chouriço. Then there are the cakes and pastries, which not only include eggs and butter as part of the standard recipe but also doce de ovos as the filling (a Portuguese-style egg custard).
Times have changed, though. Although the concept of veganism (and even vegetarianism) is very new to Portugal, it has been embraced with gusto. As of 2017, Happy Cow counts at least 15 different vegan restaurants in Lisbon – and that’s not including all of the vegetarian restaurants or restaurants with vegan-friendly options. Considering most people visit Lisbon for a long weekend, that’s almost enough restaurants to visit without having to double-up.
There are a couple of hotels and bed and breakfasts in Lisbon that offer a vegan-friendly breakfast.
- Inspira Santa Marta Hotel (from €110) – Situated just off of Avenida de Liberdade, this upmarket eco-hotel offers boutique accommodation that’s decorated according to Feng Shui principles. The hotel will happily cater to vegans on request, and their on-site Mediterranean restaurant offers an excellent selection of vegan, vegetarian, and lactose-free dishes. .
- Casa do Mercado Lisboa (from €80) – A boutique B&B that’s located in Cais do Sodré near the popular Time Out Market, Casa do Mercado Lisboa also runs an organic and bio restaurant, and happily caters to vegans at breakfast time.
Another option is to stay in self-catering accommodation and have breakfast at home. Most Portuguese supermarkets now stock a range of vegan-friendly products including almond and soy milk, and there are also a few health food supermarkets like:
Alternatively again, you could have breakfast at a vegan-friendly café.
- Foodprintz café – Open for breakfast, lunch, and early dinner, this yoga studio and café offers an organic, locally-sourced menu that’s ideal for vegans. (map)
- AO 26 Vegan Food Project – One of the most popular vegan restaurants, this restaurant offers a selection of snacks, sandwiches, salads, and deserts, as well as a changing dish of the day (map)
- The Food Temple – Another popular vegan joint, offering a selection of main meals and snacks (map)
- RDA 69 – A social project that offers bike repair, workshops, and film screenings, RDA 69 also offers a €3 evening meal from 20:00 onward (map)
- Planeta Bio – Healthy vegetarian and vegan food that’s very affordable as well (map)
- Open Brasserie Mediterrânica – An upmarket Mediterranean restaurant that serves gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian dishes, all sourced from local and organic suppliers (map)
- Instituto Macrobiótico de Portugal – Serves vegan lunches, and has a shop selling a small selection of health food products (map).
- Refeitório Associativo Hare Krishna – Offers an affordable €7 lunch and €8 dinner that’s suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. (map)
- Farm Food Ink Café – An Israeli vegetarian health food café that offers salads, falafel, hummus, and other vegan-friendly options (map)
- Miss Saigon – Situated in Parque das Nações, this vegan cuisine has an international focus. Dishes change daily but have previously included vegan meatballs, haggis, colcannon, and curry (map)
Many of the organic supermarkets mentioned above also have a snack bar, ideal for light lunches and snacks. Puro Bio has a snack bar as does Biomercado, while Miosótis has its own restaurant and serves both vegetarian and vegan meals.
Vegan and Vegetarian Buffets
The following restaurants focus on vegan and vegetarian buffets, with dishes that change daily.
- Terra (map)
- Jardim das Cerejas (map)
- Paladar Zen (map)
- Cafe Galeria House of Wonders in Cascais (map)
- A Colmeia (map)
Vegan alternatives to traditional Portuguese dishes
Vegan restaurants are great, but sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out on discovering a new cuisine. Thankfully, there are a few places dotted around Lisbon that offer vegan alternatives of traditional Portuguese dishes.
Originating in Porto, and typically containing more than 3 types of meat, the Francesinha is normally anything but vegan. Thankfully, Ao 26 – Vegan Food Project offer a vegan alternative.
Although Feijoada usually contains pork, Veganeats offers a meat-free alternative that’s perfect for vegans.
A Portuguese sausage that’s traditionally made from just about any meat as long as it’s not pork, this is available in vegan form at Veganeats.
Sweet rice, or rice pudding, typically contains milk, but Terra offer a vegan-friendly version that uses lactose-free milk.
Naturally vegan dishes
There are also a handful of traditional Portuguese dishes that are already naturally vegan-friendly including:
- Queijo de Figo: More common in the Algarve, this cake is made from figs, almond, and spices.
- Marzipan sweets: Many pastelarias sell marzipan sweets that are usually made from just ground almonds, water, and sugar.
- Baked chestnuts (castanhas): In Autumn, you’ll often see stalls by the side of the road selling these.
- Ginjinha: A sweet alcohol made from Ginja berries.
- Port: Dessert wine from Porto.
Markets in Portugal
If you’re self-catering in Lisbon, take the opportunity to shop at one of the many fresh fruit and vegetable markets in Lisbon. With over 300 days of sunshine in Lisbon and the Algarve, Portugal has optimal conditions for growing fruit and vegetables. And, because most people still shop at the market, you’ll find that the prices are very reasonable as well.
Look out for:
- Sweet Potatoes from Aljezur
- Bananas from Madeira
- Pineapples from The Azores
- Diospiros (Persimmon)
- Mangos (check to see where they come from, as many stalls will have mangos from South America).
Have you uncovered any vegan delights in Lisbon? Let us, and other Portugalist readers, know by sharing your comment below.