How to be a vegetarian in Spain?

Old Aug 27th, 2002, 01:54 PM
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How to be a vegetarian in Spain?

I have heard many of the wonders of spanish cuisine. Many have said not to be afraid to try something new. Unfortunately, I am always overly inquisitive about the food I eat, even here in the States where I am fluent in the language! (I get many rolling eyes when I ask too many questions of the wait staff...)
Does anyone have any tips about how to inquire about a meals ingredients, and not seem rude when it is not ordered?...
I just don't want to offend people, if I can't communicate to them that I don't eat meat... Is vegetarianism prevalant in Spain? Or are people going to think I am crazy?
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 02:08 PM
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Go to and scroll down to the eating section, then click on the tiny "vegetarian" link. Like so many other things about johnnyjet, this will lead to a remarkable collection of leads and links. This is a website that truly deserves our praise IMO.
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 02:23 PM
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Don't eat meat, chicken or fish.
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 02:28 PM
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It's difficult, but not impossible. Remember that in Spain, ham and meat are two different words. If you just say "no carne," you may still get ham (as I did in my asparagus omelette), so specify no jamon also.
Have fun.
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 02:31 PM
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Thanks John
I found a great link for restaurants who serve vegetarian meals...
Very helpful!
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 03:41 PM
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Sue 3 years ago I was in Madrid with a friend who was a vegatarian. She had a rough 3 days. We ordered tomato salad and it would be on top of a pile of anchovies, ham with items as beth stated, etc. She basically ate bread and cheese,potatas bravas and gaspacho for days!

Also many restaurants have sides of meat dried and hanging from the ceilings. I remember she was very disturbed by the hoof in her face!

Good luck to you!
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 03:54 PM
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I was trying to find for you on the Rough Guide's web site, the excellent piece of advice which is in the book to the effect that "vegetarians should resign themselves to a period of weight loss"

I failed, but I found this useful stuff insteadBR>
Vegetarians have a fairly hard time of it in Spain: there's always something to eat, but you may get weary of eggs and omelettes (tortilla francesa is a plain omelette, tortilla de patatas comes with potatoes, con champiñones with mushrooms). In the big cities you'll find vegetarian restaurants and ethnic places which serve vegetable dishes. Otherwise, superb fresh produce is always available in the markets and shops, and cheese, fruit and eggs are available everywhere. In restaurants you're faced with the extra problem that pieces of meat – especially ham, which the Spanish don't seem to regard as real meat – are often added to vegetable dishes to "spice them up".

The phrases to get to know are Soy vegetariano/a. Como sólo verduras. Hay algo sin carne? ("I'm a vegetarian. I only eat vegetables. Is there anything without meat?"); you may have to add y sin mariscos ("and without seafood") and y sin jamón ("and without ham") to be really safe. A good resource for those with internet access is a new website – – which hopes to compile, with a little help from users, a guide to vegetarian restaurants in Spain.
Old Aug 28th, 2002, 04:30 AM
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I guess a typical Indian restaurants should have a substantial vege menu selection, which will be even without egg, but it can be too spicy, if you are not used to it.
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 07:41 AM
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There are several good vegetarian restaurants in Madrid and Barcelona. It's easier to eat vegetables in Barcelona where the cuisine is more international. Escalivada is a dish of grilled vegetables and sometimes includes a grilled sardine but it can be left off if you ask.
It's hard though, they like to stick little bits of ham in everything. Omelettes with aspargus or tortilla espanol are usually meat free. Champignons and Setas are two names for mushrooms which are delicious. Legumbres is often a dish of greens and potatoes served with oil and vinegar on the side. But its a peasant dish and can be hard to find.
Don't forget Bread, and buying your own stuff...raw of course.
Old Aug 31st, 2002, 09:08 AM
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Things are getting better in Spain, but you will still probably find it difficult getting over what you mean. The daughter of a friend of ours would ask what did they have that had no meat in it. The answer was invariably "chicken" or "ham", which are not considered meat. If you eat seafood (shrimp, lobster) and fish, you will have no difficulties, the Spanish love fish and usually it is cooked very simply with no other ingredients. Alternatively, you could try tapas. These are usually displayed on the counter so you can just point and ask what it is
Old Oct 3rd, 2002, 03:12 PM
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topping for Mary
Old Oct 3rd, 2002, 03:29 PM
uncle sam
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Eat the meat, chicken and fish. Recent studies have suggested that vegetarians don't get any benefits from depriving themselves.

Old Oct 4th, 2002, 02:38 AM
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I am vegetarian and was in Madrid last March. I ate a lote of small veggie tapas like Tortilla di patate (potato omelette) and patatas bravas (spicy potatoes fried) as well as beautiful pastries and cheeses and fruit from a market off the Plaza Mayor. My other half loves pizza and we had the best pizza in delivery pizzeria type place. It was one of the best I've had since I moved to europe! I also got as a tapas feta with roasted red peppers in olive oil, it tasted so fresh. You are limited but I never styarved, just got tired of eating the same stuff in the end. Don't waste your time in Touristy places like Planet Hollywood cause tyou are hungry. I hate those places but we walked by and decided to have some food. It was awful and expensive and they would not adapt anything to take meat out. Never again!
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