Living the plant-based life in Catalonia
You may have heard that traveling vegan in Spain is “impossible” or at least difficult. Well, we’ve done it, and we’re here to say it’s not only possible—it’s awesome. While many of the mainstream Barcelona cafes have a leg of ham hanging over the counter, a closer look at this seaside city uncovers a community of cruelty-free cuisine, shopping, and experiences. Whether you’re a jet-setting vegan, a globe-trotting vegetarian, or a curious foodie, there’s something for you in Barna.
Experience vegan Barcelona
If you’re disappointed in the reinstatement of bullfighting in Catalonia, you can bet the region’s vegan proprietors are too. Rather than shying away from Catalonia, now is the time to show your support for likeminded locals, and this vegan travel guide is a good place to start.
When you’re looking for animal-friendly experiences between visits to La Sagrada Familia and Güell Palace in the city center, duck into peaceful El Jardinet dels Gats (the Little Garden of Cats). This park on La Rambla was once a disheveled gathering place for stray and feral cats, until a mother-daughter team renovated the space into a sanctuary and adoption center for their feline friends. These days, the kitties are well cared for by dedicated volunteers and their little garden is a happy hideaway filled with toys and comfy cat beds.
If you believe the best things in life are fresh food and conversation-sparking art, El Café at the Blueproject Foundation needs to be on your itinerary—like, every day. The menu is 100% plant-based and raw, and the venue is also home to many of the foundation’s smaller contemporary art exhibitions. Browse the works of local and immerging artists over freshly pressed juices and delicious organic dishes.
Feed your soul (and your body)
Let’s be honest. We’re here for the food. Catalan cuisine relies on fresh tomatoes and veggies, but it can be tricky to identify non-vegan ingredients in an unfamiliar language. Especially when you’re traveling in a new city, it’s helpful—and liberating—to find an eatery where you can try anything on the menu. Believe it or not, you have plenty of vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona to choose from; far too many for us to mention here, but we have a few favs!
No trip to Spain is complete without tapas. More than finger food, tapas is about the whole experience—eating, drinking, and catching up with friends after a long day in the city. One glance at a conventional tapas menu and you’ll get an eyeful of Iberian ham, savory aioli sauces, and Spanish tortilla (potato omelet). This beloved pastime has a vegan side, though! As you plan your foodie foray, keep in mind that in Spain, most restaurants close between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. to prepare for a long, European dinnertime (and to observe a relaxing siesta).
Open from 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.—with no midday closure—Veggie Garden makes it easy to dine on Catalan cuisine with a delicious vegan twist. Sit down to a café table surrounded by color-splashed walls and enjoy an equally lovely meal. The menu is a mix of international and regional flavors, from polenta and roasted veggies to mouthwatering moussaka. The vibe here is casual and friendly—it’s the perfect place to relax with a smoothie after perusing the galleries at Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art down the street.
Located a few blocks from the Mediterranean waterfront, BarCeloneta Sangria Bar earns top billing on any vegan restaurant guide of the area. Start with a round of specialty sangrias, all named after powerful women in history. With a drink in hand, order mouthwatering veg burgers, like the spinach-topped Shreek. Has it been awhile since you’ve spent a night drinking fancy wine cocktails and chowing down on big burgers? Make up for lost time by the beach in Barcelona.
If you’re anything like us, herbivore tasting menus make you do a happy dance. Well, we danced our way into Sésamo…which was only slightly awkward. This hidden gem boasts a seven-course tapas tasting menu, served with two glasses of wine. Although the restaurant isn’t strictly vegan, the chef caters each selection to your table’s dietary considerations. Reservations are highly recommended, because this place is hopping.
Bonus: Wear vegan swag
As you know, veganism isn’t just a dietary decision—it’s a lifestyle that affects what you eat, do, and even wear. It’s easy to forget sometimes that clothing and accessories made from wool, silk, and leather come from animals. Likewise, many cosmetics contain non-vegan ingredients as well. That’s why we love Amapola Vegan Shop in Gràcia. They get it. Shop cruelty-free clothing and accessories for all ages and genders, including bags by top international brands such as Matt & Nat and Nea Vegan Shoes. Amapola proves you can be conscientious and stylish at the same time!
We’d love to sit and chat over tempeh tapas, but we have more plant-centric eateries to explore.
What will be on your plate next time you visit Barcelona?
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