8 Things I Ate in Portugal as a Vegan

My mother, grandmother, and I toured the coast of Portugal this past July. I was both worried and excited about the food I would encounter there, but I lived to share the story of all the yummy food I encountered. A foodie at heart, I was ready to consume and photograph as many delicious meals as I could find!

1.  Vegan sausage 

I was VERY confused when I asked for a vegetarian dish and was instead given a sausage: A full sausage to be exact. I had to ask my waiter twice in my broken Portuguese if he promised that the meal he put in front of me was meat-free. After multiple confirmations, I tried it and was pleasantly surprised. Inside the casing was a substance I can only describe as similar to stuffing that was rich and full of spices. After this first encounter, it became one of my staples for the rest of the trip!

2. Crepes 

Yes, I know crepes aren't vegan.  But, I happened to find a vegan crepe shop in the city of Coimbra. What are the chances, considering I can’t even find (much less make) vegan crepes at home. This may have been my favorite meal during the whole trip. Topped with chocolate sauce and raspberry sorbet, this was the best treat. I hadn't eaten a crepe since becoming vegan all those years ago and was shocked that I had been living such a sad life without their presence.

3. Pasta

In a non-vegan restaurant, my go-to meal is pasta or rice. This life hack left me eating a lot of pasta on this trip (I’m not complaining though). Around 5 of my 7 dinners each week were pasta-based. Whether it was pasta topped with house tomato sauce, vegan pesto, or veggies, I was constantly indulging. Thankfully, the pasta I came across was egg-free, which was a pleasing discovery. The pasta dish pictured above was at a vegetarian restaurant. It was drenched in creamy homemade vegan pesto and topped with pine nuts and maple-roasted shiitake mushrooms. I wish I could tell you that I have been eating less pasta since being back in America, but that would be a lie.

4. Bread and olive oil 

I may or may not have gained 6 pounds from eating bread at every meal and I’ve honestly never been happier. Freshly baked bread and olive oil from the local olive trees, how was I supposed to resist? I wouldn't be Portuguese if I didn't passionately love bread and olives. When I wasn't eating olive oil with bread, I was eating olive oil in every meal and dessert. Yes, even in dessert. In Portugal, they use olive oil in practically everything because it is healthy, easily accessible, and delicious.

5.  LOTS of sorbet 

I’m typically a fan of sorbet, but I became borderline obsessed while in Portugal. Sorbet was too accessible and too irresistible. I ended up eating sorbet at LEAST once a day for the first 10 days of my trip (I took a break on day 11, but don’t worry, I resumed on day 12). It was sold by every street vendor and in every restaurant. My flavor of choice was raspberry! 

6. Vegan Pastel de Natas

In Lisbon, there are plenty of vegan-friendly bakeries and gelaterias. My favorite one was called Zarazuela, which had the most amazing and traditional Portuguese sweets, including the famous pastel de nata. For those of you who have not tried one yet, a pastel de nata is a cinnamon and sugar covered egg custard. It is basically the least vegan dessert on Earth, but I somehow found a place that made a tasty vegan version. I grew up eating my grandma’s pastel de natas and eating these vegan gems brought me a comforting sense of nostalgia. Pictured with the two pastel de natas are two kinds of Portuguese donuts and an apple croissant. 

7. Fresh fruit 

Street food in Portugal and America are very different. On the streets of Portugal, there is no unhealthy food being sold and about half of the carts were fruit stands. Every time I walked anywhere, I would buy fruit from a stand, and it was fresh, cheap, and delicious. It was the perfect healthy snack to cool me down on my sightseeing journeys.

8.  Gelato 

Finding dairy-free gelato was much easier than I thought it would be, as almost every gelateria had a vegan option. Besides sorbet, my other dessert of choice was the gelato pictured above. Chocolate and coconut were my go-to flavors this trip and I made sure to take advantage of every gelateria I came across.

I was shocked to encounter the numerous and substantial vegan options that I had to choose from while in Portugal. If you want to see more pictures of what I ate in Portugal, and the food I eat in general, follow my vegan foodstagram

 

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