Stereotypically, Spain is pretty bad for vegetarian inclusivity. On one hand, I have to agree. I find people get a bit confused when I tell them I don’t eat meat.
‘So, do you eat ham?’
‘What about a nice bit of chorizo’
‘Lettuce is fine, right?’
Meat and fish are a large part of traditional Spanish cuisine, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up or avoid a quite frankly awesome city. I have found waiters to be polite and understanding in the clear majority of cases, you just need to explicitly state your dietary requirements when ordering and don’t be put off by strange seeming questions. A lady really did ask me if vegetarians can eat chicken.
Here are a few vegetarian and vegan restaurants that I highly recommend if you are staying in Madrid:
Yerbabuena is a veggie/vegan place (you can choose your type of cheese) with a café like environment. It is bright and clean, and often very busy. I ate a delicious meatless moussaka (long live the humble aubergine) and it was delicious. Vegan brownies were very rich and chocolately. Portions are big and I had to take some away with me (student life). I particularly like this place as a lunch venue, its spitting distance from the plaza de sol, the centre of Madrid and can be a great stop off if you’re checking out the shops on gran via. You have to try the fresh juices. Check out the website here!
Al natural has a heavy focus on eating whole and natural foods. It is quieter than the other suggestions I have made, with dimmer lighting and bizarre decorations such as giant carrots on the walls. I actually love it in its own quirky way. I like to read a book here over dinner or go with a friend who I need a good intimate catch up with. Starters are huge, be warned. Website linked here.
Chinese style vegan restaurant. The waitress was extremely helpful, speaking us through the whole menu with great knowledge of the food and patience. Empanadillas, small parcels stuffed with spinach and nuts were DELICOUS. Lots of meat replacements, like vegan duck and vegan beef. We bought three plates to share between the two of us and left with very full tummies. The menu is low grease and uses lots of fresh veggies, hence the guilt free name of the place. Website here.
This is just a quick suggestion, there are so many more restaurants I want to check out. Info for more vegan and veggie places can be found here: Happy Cow. Next to try is the ‘loving hut’, if nothing else because the name is cringely fantastic.
Yo soy vegetariana, no como carne – I am a vegetarian, I don’t eat meat
Soy vegana, no como carne, pescado ni productos de leche – I am a vegan, I don’t eat meat, fish or dairy products
¿Tienes algo sin carne? – do you have something without meat?
Sin – without
Con – with
Hope you found this helpful! 😊