How hard is it to become a vegan?
Let me start by saying vegan food is wildly underrated. The vast majority of people believe a plant-based diet means never being able to experience delicious and diverse meals, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
This lifestyle allows you to explore an immense diversity of fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and funghi, which otherwise you’d probably not include in your diet. Veganism puts your creativity to the test by pushing you to improvise, discover new recipes, and learn more about nutrition. Today there is also a vast array of options to veganize all kinds of food as well as many restaurants, cafes, and pastry shops that cater to vegans.
My vegan journey
Up until I moved to Thailand in 2017, going vegan was never something I considered, because, like most, I was certain I’d never been able to adopt this lifestyle. So, why did I become a vegan? And why during my time in Asia?
While I was living in Thailand, I started wondering why we eat what we’re told without questioning its origin, production, and, most importantly, its impact. Then, I realized that was the perfect moment to start changing my diet. Firstly, I was thousands of miles away from my typical and favorite foods. Secondly, traditional Asian food wasn’t to my taste at the beginning. And last, but not least, I became aware that my whole life I’d been contributing to river and soil pollution, deforestation, water waste, and indigenous land appropriation, as well as climate change and animal suffering.
So what was, at first, a “two-week trial” in Thailand quickly turned into four years of being a happy vegan! That being said, and without further ado, let’s get onto the roadmap of Vegan-friendly Oporto.
A Vegan’s Roadmap to Oporto
Typical Portuguese cuisine
Why not start with the famous francesinha? My suggestion for it is Kind Kitchen restaurant, which is 100% vegan.
If you’re looking for the famous Portuguese Pastel de Nata (also known as custard tart), I recommend Odete Bakery, located downtown. Here you can also find a vegan pizza menu, brunch, coffee, cakes, and desserts.
Cafes and pastry shops
For plant-based cafes, where you can find all sorts of pastries, I would recommend Cravo e Canela Pastelaria, Padoca Portugal, and My Green Pastry.
Typical Brazilian cuisine
If you’re fond of typical Brazilian snacks, Vegetali is for you! Although they are a no dine-in option, you can buy their snacks and have them delivered to you.
Casual vegan food
If you’re looking for casual vegan foods, besides those mentioned above, there are still plenty of options, such as:
- Árvore do Mundo with daily menus and burgers,
- Suribachi Porto, a macrobiotic restaurant and shop
- Zen Porto for burgers and street food
- Da Terra, a buffet restaurant group in Portugal with comfort food
- Soul Food Porto
- Apuro Vegan Bar, which serves craft beer and organic food
- Casa da Horta
- V- SnaQ for vegan fast food
- O Porto dos Gatos
- Vegana by Tentúgal
- Ovalho, a vegan snack bar
- Nola Kitchen
- DUHnuts, an amazing option for donut lovers
Bonus tip: some of these restaurants are pet-friendly, such as Árvore do Mundo and O Porto dos Gatos. This last place is not only 100% vegan but it also promotes the adoption of rescue cats which you can see (and pet!) at restaurants.
In Oporto, you can also find places where plant-based food is not the main focus but that offer excellent options, such as Nicolau Porto Café, Fresco Naturalmente, Manna Porto, Beija-Flor, Sou Green (Mediterranean vegetarian), and Rota do Chá.
Cheese lovers’ paradise
As a perfect match for your vegan Portuguese wine (Porto or other regular vegan wine brands such as Ribafreixo, Monte Cascas, Niepoort, and DFJ Vinhos) you can check Curanuts for a tasty selection of artisanal cheeses produced through natural fermentation and 100% plant-based, of course. You can find their cheese at many partners’ physical stores around Porto or on their online shop. Check their Instagram or website for all the cheesy goodness.
The Vegan “Zomato”
Are you a vegan that travels a lot and ends up feeling lost when trying to find anything to eat? If so, here is the perfect solution: the Happy Cow app! Depending on your location, and the type of food/diet you choose, it shows you the vegan restaurants, vegetarian restaurants, and vegan-friendly places near you. The app also provides you with ratings and comments by other users to help you choose the best options around. If you’re ever in Leiria, be sure to check out our mini travel guide on what to do in Leiria.
(Not) getting lost in translation
When traveling as a vegan, it can be tough to make yourself understood and ensure your food doesn’t contain animal products. This is why learning how to say “vegetarian”, “I am vegan” or “I don’t eat any animal ingredients” in the local language is a great skill to have, especially if locals are not used to speaking English.
This was one of the biggest lessons I learned during my year around Asia, when the translator couldn’t give me a hand.
If you’re a vegan and you’re looking to travel soon, check out available SPEAK language groups for your destination’s local language and avoid getting lost in translation!