Being Vegetarian in a City Full of Meat

Don’t let my title lead you astray – there are plenty of vegetarians in Spain. However, Spaniards do love their meat and fish. Paella, a classic course served in Spain, is traditionally served with mussels, rabbit, duck, or even snail! For me, I prefer the veggie version with zucchini, snap peas, and broccoli. Spaniards also love their tapas (a small plate made to share), again, with ham, seafood, or pork, but I have found many delicious vegetarian options in Barcelona!

My Favorite Vegetarian Restaurants

One of my favorite brunch places – and I have tried a few – is a vegetarian restaurant called Lilo’s Cafe. They have an extensive menu, and the BBQ jackfruit sandwich is one that I still dream about. They offer a $25 endless brunch, where you get two courses and bottomless drinks! They have hummus toast, açai bowls, and amazing pancakes. 

Another restaurant that I had been dying to try was Roots and Rolls. This completely vegan and plant-based sushi restaurant was recommended to me by many, and was named the 7th best sushi restaurant in Barcelona by the Barcelona Food Experience. My friends and I split the popcorn cauliflower, vegetable gyoza, edamame, and kale chips, and we tried all 5 of the sushi rolls they offer. My personal favorite was called “Hip Caroot” sushi roll which had peanut sauce, avocado, carrot, and quinoa. I will definitely be back to eat at this restaurant in the next few weeks! 

Roots and Rolls

These two restaurants are not the only vegetarian options in Barcelona, but they are great ones to try. At every restaurant I have been to I have had no trouble finding a veggie option. Lots of times I have to say sin carne, meaning without meat, and the servers have had no trouble making that adjustment for me. Patatas bravas, fried aubergine, padrón peppers, and pan con tomate are a few of my favorite tapas I’ve tried so far. 

Cooking at Home

While eating out is fun, I also love to cook at my apartment. There are many grocery stores to choose from, but my roommate and I make a weekly trip to BonPreu. I have learned to love these Spanish stores, which don’t normally have the same things as Trader Joe’s, but all of the produce and products are so fresh and contain fewer preservatives than those in the United States. I have made meals like tofu bowls with Brussels sprouts and zucchini, or Mediterranean bowls with fresh hummus from a fruit and vegetable market.

I have enjoyed the food here in Barcelona much more than that in the United States and it will be sad when I have to start shopping at Target for groceries again. While at first I was pretty concerned about being a vegetarian in a city that loves its meat, I have found ways to avoid it while never substituting for flavor. I eat out here more than I do at home, but I have found that Barcelona has more vegetarian restaurants than my home town. There are tons more that I want to try, including a vegan fast food place, and I hope that I can get to most of them before I return home!

Josie Morgan is a college student at University of Colorado Boulder. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Barcelona, Spain.

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