A Vegan’s Guide to Portugal

By James Cave / Published: October 2017December 29, 2021.
Posted in: Food & Drink / 7 Comments & Questions

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Portugal isn’t always the easiest place to be a vegan. Most traditional 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 at least one obligatory slice of chouriço. Then there are the traditional cakes and pastries, which typically use a lot of eggs. In fact, one of Portugal’s most famous types of cakes, doces conventuais, are based on the fact that monasteries had left over egg yolks and needed to find creative ways of using them up. That’s where the pastel de nata comes from.

But time are a-changin’. These days, there are plenty of vegan restaurants in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve, and they’re spreading throughout the rest of the country as well. Most modern coffee shops offer non-cow milks such as soy and almond and there are several Portuguese bakeries that even have a vegan pastel de nata on their menu. Apparently, it’s now the law[1]https://www.livekindly.co/vegan-options-portugal-law/ that prisons, hospitals, and schools have to have a vegan option on the menu. There are also Portuguese footwear brands like Nae and Fair that make vegan shoes in Portugal.

Thanks to all the different vegan restaurants, it’s fairly easy to visit somewhere like Lisbon or Porto. Living here as an expat isn’t much harder either: most expats opt for the more modern rather than traditional restaurants, and so there’s usually something vegan-friendly on the menu. And you don’t always have to miss out on traditional Portuguese food either as some restaurants now make vegan alternatives.

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AO26 in Lisbon, for example, offers a vegan francesinha and a vegan bifana while Veganeats, also in Lisbon, offers a vegan feijoada and vegan alheira. Of course, if you want an authentic francesinha, you really need to travel to Porto or Braga. Thankfully, there are plenty of vegan options there too. Lado B Café and Santa Francesinha in Porto both offer vegan francesinhas as do Braga vegetarian restaurants Gosto Superior and Shanti.

Those are the cities though, though, and often within specialist, modern restaurants and cafés. While these types of restaurants and cafés are spreading across the country, walk into a traditional pastelaria or restaurant and ask for a vegan option or soy milk and you won’t have the same luck.

  • Salada Mista (simple mixed salad)
  • Arroz (rice)
  • Batatas fritas (french fries)
  • Azeitonas (olives)
  • Cenoura à Algarvia (carrots, Algarve-style) (recommended)

Most restaurants are very accommodating, though, and it’s always worth asking if they could custom make you something that’s vegan-friendly. This will fluster a few chefs and waiters in traditional restaurants, but it’s always worth asking.

Self-catering is another option. Health food supermarkets like Celeiro are popping up all over Portugal and most large supermarkets like Pingo Doce or Continente have a large health food aisle. Of course, if it’s just fruit and vegetables you want, you don’t need a specialist shop. As well as the different supermarkets, you also have the wonderful municipal markets which are cheap and usually carry excellent produce as well.

As well as your basics, look out for sweet potatoes from Aljezur, bananas from Madeira, pineapples from the Azores, diospiros, and pomegranates. There are also one or two naturally vegan dishes, like queijo de figo, an Algarvian cake made from just figs, almonds, and spices, and the roast chestnuts you’ll see sold on the street during the autumn and winter months.

Being a vegan in Portugal isn’t always easy but, between the more modern restaurants popping up everywhere and the wonderful fruit and vegetables available throughout the country, it’s increasingly becoming doable.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to read the vegetarian survival guide to Portugal

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7 thoughts on “A Vegan’s Guide to Portugal”

  1. I really appreciate this site. I only wish that it listed some vegan tour guides. My family and I are coming in November and I'd give anything for a vegan guide that could take us or lead us all over.

    Reply
    • Hi Donna,

      I hope to write a little more about vegan travel in Portugal. There are lots of vegan (or vegan-friendly) restaurants in places like Lisbon and Porto. Outside of the big cities, it's more difficult. Portuguese food is very focused on meat and fish and most snack foods contain dairy foods of some kind.

      I will try and make a list of all the vegan-friendly options. You won't find vegan restaurants everywhere, but plenty of vegans visit Portugal every year and manage to survive 🙂


      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

      Reply
  2. Thank you for the guide.
    I have booked Inspira Santa Marta on your recommendation and look forward to visiting some of the restaurants.

    Reply
  3. This is a very helpful site. Im going to the vegan festival on the 28th April with a large group of people. I shall take this guide with me, thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  4. You seem to have missed out Espiral, an old-established (38 years!) vegetarian and vegan restaurant:
    https://www.espiral.pt/restaurantevegetariano

    Reply

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