Portugal is More Vegan-Friendly Than You Think

Last summer, I decided to visit Portugal โ€“ somewhere I had always wanted to see. I knew that Portugal had amazing beaches, a culture with a rich history, and that the Portuguese consumed a lot of seafood. I was told that Portugal wasnโ€™t a vegan-friendly place, but I was pleasantly surprised!

My visit was only for one week and I stayed mostly in Lisbon, but did a few day trips outside the city. I definitely want to go back and see other parts. But if the delicious food, warm hospitality, and beautiful architecture are things to go by, Iโ€™m sure Iโ€™ll enjoy the other parts of Portugal too.

The City

Lisbon itself is a winding, multi-coloured mix of old and new, but also super inviting. After leaving Barcelona before arriving in Lisbon โ€“ Barcelona being over-crowded and riddled with graffiti that says, โ€œGo home, tourists!โ€ โ€“ Lisbon was a welcome refuge. People were kind, from the shopkeepers and taxi drivers, and most spoke very good English (it was revealed to me that itโ€™s a mandatory subject in schools).

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The city is called โ€œThe City of Seven Hillsโ€ and people arenโ€™t wrong! It is extremely hilly โ€“ so I highly recommend wearing a good pair of shoes! Itโ€™s definitely a place that you can explore completely on foot, as long as you have a reasonable level of fitness. If you donโ€™t want to over-exert yourself, you can hop on the cityโ€™s old-fashioned trams, ride the metro, take a bus, explore the ancient elevators, or jump in a taxi for a cheap price. Walking, however, is a great way to eat more delicious vegan food by working off all the calories.

Food

I knew that the Portuguese were famous for their fish, but this didnโ€™t take away from the amazing vegan offerings!

Aloha Cafรฉ

This was one of my favourite places, and I went here for breakfast twice. The staff were really friendly, the location was quiet and picturesque, and the food was amazing! They have a variety of cooked and raw vegan and vegetarian foods for very fair prices. My favourite was the vegan brunch with salad, hummus and carrots, avocado toast, coconut yogurt with fruit and granola, fresh juice, and milk coffee for only โ‚ฌ11.90.

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Delicious vegan brunch!

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Interior of the restaurant — image via Aloha Cafe Facebook

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Vegan tofu lasagna for lunch!

Aloha Cafe, Monte Olivete 20, 1200-279 Lisboa, Portugal

Jardim Das Cerejas

This place is fantastic if youโ€™re a greedy vegan like me, and if youโ€™re travelling on a budget. An all-you-can-eat vegan buffet, I went here three times during my stay and was very satisfied each time. They serve Portuguese, Western, and Indian-style dishes with a salad bar and huge slices of homemade cake for dessert. This place has a queue out the door during peak times. A great place to eat, especially if youโ€™re travelling solo. You can also get a large takeaway box if you don’t want to eat in the restaurant.

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Delicious dinner buffet — I went up for seconds and thirds!

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Yummy vegan cake —ย image via Jardim Das Cerejas

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Vegan buffet! Image via Jardim Das Cerejas

Jardim Das Cerejas, Calรงada Sacramento 36, 1200-022 Lisboa, Portugal

Foodprintz Cafe

I stumbled upon this place during a Portuguese holiday, when everything else was closed! I came right before closing time, but staff were more than happy to make me a yummy meal. This restaurant/yoga studio/shop boasts about their home-made Gopal cheese (from organic cashew nuts and tofu). I really enjoyed the sweet potato soup in addition to the great conversation with the staff. This place offers yoga classes, documentary nights, and workshops.

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Toast with homemade vegan ricotta cheese, avocado and dill.

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Restaurant interior — image by Fred from FM Photography via Foodprintzย 

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Delicious sweet potato soup.

Foodprintz Cafe, Rodrigo da Fonseca 82A, 1250-193 Lisboa, Portugal

Ao 26 Vegan Food Project

This place was always incredibly busy the few times I tried to eat here. If you come in-between menu changes or during a peak time, you may not be able to sit. But the wait is worth it, however! I enjoyed a huge dish of seitan balls, pasta, veggies, and vegan cheese whilst sitting on a pretty cool-looking antique sofa. Some Portuguese ladies who were also dining were staring at me the whole time and giving me the side-eye (or so I thought), but strangely when I got up to leave, they waved goodbye to me. I was so confused but strangely enjoyed it.

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Seitan balls, pasta, veggies, and vegan cheese — delicious!

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Restaurant interior —ย image via Ao 26 Vegan Food Project Facebook

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Yummy dessert!ย Image via Ao 26 Vegan Food Project Facebook

AO26 Vegan Food Project, Vรญtor Cordon 26, 1200-484 Lisboa, Portugal

Princesa do Castelo

This place is located near the Sao Jorge Castle, and is a lovely place to chill and eat if youโ€™ve made the long walk up. I enjoyed a delicious tofu curry which was the special of the day. The menu was extensive, the staff were super nice, and the vibe was laid-back and hippie-esque.

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Healthy tofu curry!

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Macrobiotic Apple Tart —ย image via Princesa Do Castelo Facebook

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Vegan omelette with potato curry and peanut chutney.ย Image via Princesa do Castelo Facebook

Princesa do Castelo, Rua do Salvador 64A, 1100-466 Lisboa, Portugal

Shopping / Leisure

Sapato Verde

Let me explain my vegan shoe woes to you. Before arriving in Lisbon, I had been in Ireland, Spain, England, and Italy โ€“ walking around the cities the whole time. I had basic flip-flops and my feet were aching. I knew that Birkenstock had a vegan shoe range, so I planned on buying those when I arrived in Europe. Sadly, every Birkenstock shop was sold out of the vegan shoes. I would come back to my hotel at the end of the day, feet throbbing.

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This was until I discovered Sapato Verde (which literally translates to โ€œgreen shoeโ€!). They are a vegan shop with clothing, cosmetics, snacks, and most importantly, vegan shoes! I ended up buying a fabulous pair of sandals made by Nae Vegan Shoes that are almost identical to the classic Birkenstock ones. Mine, however, are made from recycled plastic bottles and recycled tires, with absolutely no animal parts used! Iโ€™ve worn these shoes for a whole year now, and not only are they durable, but they also provide arch support and are super comfortable. Nae Vegan Shoes are handmade in Portugal and ship worldwide for free, so I’ve ordered from them online after returning to Hong Kong. Check them out!

R. Chagas 33, 1200-106 Lisboa, Portugalย 

Bertrand Chiado

Officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest bookstore in the world still in operation, this place is not to be missed! Located in the busy shopping area of Chiado, you can find books from all genres in several languages. It has also been voted โ€œFavourite Bookstoreโ€ of Lisbon. Many famous writers visit this place and have launched books here. Itโ€™s located very close to the vegan restaurant, Jardim de Cerejas.

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Shop exterior.ย Image via Livraria Bertrand do Chiadoย 

R. Garrett 73, 1200-309 Lisboa, Portugal

Sandemans New Europe

One of my favourite tour operators is Sandemanโ€™s New Europe, which offers free walking tours around major cities in Europe. The guides are mostly young, energetic, and eager to share the cityโ€™s culture and history with you (in order to be given a tip at the end of the tour). Their paid tours are also very affordable and informative. I ended up doing 4 tours with them during the week I was there, as a way to walk around the city, meet new people, and see some amazing places. I did the free walking tour of Lisbon, the Belem tour (โ‚ฌ14), the Alfama tour (โ‚ฌ14), and the Sintra tour (โ‚ฌ40 — but includes a train ticket). I ended up meeting other young, solo travellers and seeing parts of the city that I wouldnโ€™t have found on my own. These kinds of tours are also more eco-friendly than coach or private car tours, so if you’re an eco-conscious person, you’ll appreciate them.

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Taking a day trip to Sintra!

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Trying homemade homemade cherry liqueur from a local lady who makes it in plastic water bottles!

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Exploring Alfama on foot with Sandemans New Europe.

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Enjoying the famous Portuguese green wine with the tour group!

I had such a lovely time in Lisbon and the surrounding areas, but I donโ€™t claim to be an expert! Even though I was only there for a short time, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment, and would definitely return again. The vegan movement is slowly kicking off in Portugal, so I highly encourage you to visit if you get the chance. If youโ€™ve been there in the past year and have eaten some delicious vegan food, let us know in the comments.

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