This summer, I vowed to get away as often as I could.
In my last blog, The Hungry Vegan, click here to read it, it told you all about my love of food! One thing about eating plant-based abroad that I was worried about, was how I was going to manage my meals while dining out all the time. Not being able to prepare my food myself would surely be an effort?
My first stop of the summer was Portugal. We were doing a bit of a town tour: firstly, staying in Lagos; then travelling to Albufeira and finally Faro; before flying home to sunny Liverpool.
Eating Plant-based in Portugal
On our first night in Lagos, we went to a local restaurant with very few vegetarian or vegan options. I opted for vegetable soup as I thought this would be my safest bet… I was wrong – the soup must have contained cream as immediately after eating it, my stomach ballooned three times bigger… weird how since eating a plant-based diet my body seems to hate anything that isn’t plants!
Breakfast was also quite difficult; we stayed in the cutest hotel, and we were served breakfast in a basket outside our room each morning, however, vegan food options were sparse. They did, however, have dairy-free milk.
I got almond but to my disappointment, it was delivered hot in a flask… eww (milk should ALWAYS be cold)! Luckily, we found a cool little café on the square around the corner that served a nice blend of coffee with (cold) oat milk… my favourite.
Our second night in Lagos was much more successful, we found a Chinese restaurant and even though my old usual of salt and pepper chicken wings and crispy chilli beef was tempting… I opted for a mushroom dish which included rice and was full of salad and vegetables; we also shared some chips which were so crispy and delicious!
Portugal’s Perfect Plant-based Restaurants
Albufeira was much more successful on the vegan front. There were many specialist vegan cafes, all with different vibes and variety within their menus. The first place we visited was a quirky little café called Flavour Cafe – The menu was spectacular, and they must have stocked every milk alternative available!
The food was amazing and seasoned to perfection. I got tofu salad and my boyfriend had veggie wrap – we shared so we each got to taste both dishes!
Another place we went to in Albufeira was called Indian Ocean… a beautiful Indian restaurant with plenty of options for vegetarian eaters – not so much plant-based though (which was evident by the bloat in my belly afterwards).
The best vegan food we had was in Faro! A hidden gem just outside the square. It was called True Food and the menu was so good I had to take a picture so I could try to replicate the dishes at home.
We ordered an orange salad and a pizza; again, we went half and half so we each got a taste of the delicious cuisine!
Something I must point out was the customer service in Portugal, everyone was so friendly and welcoming… especially in the last place, we ate in Faro… The waiter even brought me out a little coconut ashtray, another way the restaurant showed their sustainability.
The second place I got my passport stamped was Greece… I landed in Crete 4 days after returning from Portugal, however, this time I was travelling with my mum and my son, and we were staying in an all-inclusive resort hotel – this made me very nervous as the meals were served 3 times a day, buffet style, and the descriptions of what was what were very vague (and sometimes not translated to English).
Eating Plant-based in Greece
There were loads of variety, but most things seemed to contain hidden dairy… I had learnt my lesson about soup from Portugal so stayed away from that but one day I had a plate of salad and soon found out it had tiny, tiny pieces of feta mixed into it.
Me + dairy = bloat
Something similar happened about 3 or 4 times during the holiday. I couldn’t wait to get home; purely to have a homemade, fully plant-based meal. Oh, the trip to Tesco after that week in Greece was wild! The fruit, vegetable and plant-based sections were ransacked!
Something that I did love in Greece, however, was the selection of nuts. I found these beautiful, caramelised peanuts glazed with sesame seeds (another favourite of mine).
Crunchy, sweet, and delicious! I need to make my own and keep them in a box under my bed for a midnight snack! Another nut I grew to love was the almond – don’t particularly enjoy the milk and always opt for oat but almonds have become a favourite snack of mine. I have also learnt they are classed as a superfood which means they are extremely good for you!
The final place I travelled to in my summer was London. London was not short of vegan restaurants and cafes, and I would love to go back just to sample a load of places to eat (and most likely will). There were so many places I wanted to go; however, this trip wasn’t about me… it was about my son and him seeing the sights and enjoying himself – meaning he mainly got to choose where and when we ate!
Affiliate link: We love Kalamata Olive Tapenade from The Ethical Superstore
Eating Plant-based in London
One of the places was the Hard Rock Cafe (which had very limited Vegan options so I opted for a bottle of water, which cost me £5.50!!) my son ordered a hot dog and didn’t finish it and for the price I paid for it, I couldn’t see it go to waste… so I finished it off.
I have never run so quickly to the toilet in my life – it came straight back up plus my £5.50 bottle of water… What a waste!
The two places that we visited which were my choosing were amazing: a gorgeous little café in Camden town called The Lost Elephant’s Kitchen – a little pricey but good portion sizes and mouth-watering food, juices and coffee and a fantastic and beautifully designed plant-based burger joint near Oxford Circus called Neat Burger… If I had the money, I would 100% buy into it and bring one to Liverpool. Just Eat would be on fire!
London is where my summer ended… and what an amazing summer it was! It was sometimes difficult trying to keep up with plant-based eating, however, I am still on my vegan journey and learning what foods I can and can’t eat and how breaking plant-based eating affects me:
Dairy = bloat, Meat = vomit
Three Plant-based Eating Travel Tips
The things I have learnt are the following:
1. Just ask for the vegan options wherever you eat… don’t feel awkward or embarrassed;
2. If all else fails, you can never go wrong with a plate of chips;
3. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can and can’t eat… Life is for living and rules are for breaking.
Eating plant-based food 100% of the time is a journey, sometimes you go down the wrong street but as long as you find your way back to the main road, you are still on the right track.
Fairtrade. Slow roasted.
Best bought in bulk!
Organic and unsweetened.