Vegan in the Algarve
Sorry! Pardon! Desculpa! Lo siento! Es tut uns leid! OK, that’s all the ways I know how to say sorry! It has been over a month since my last blog post and I’m feeling incredibly guilty, I have no excuse other than the fact that life (with it’s big annoying self) got in the way and I hit the inevitable ‘writers block’. But I am back now and feeling more inspired than ever to share with you my experiences as a vegan fashion blogger and continue to contribute to this amazing community (love you guys).
I recently took a vacation with my boyfriend and family to the Algarve and it turned out to be one of the best trips away ever, and came at just the right time for me too. We were lucky enough to stay in a lovely villa with our own pool and were very close to the sea, we had an on-going debate over which was better; pool or sea? Anyway, I just wanted to share a bit of it with you so that you can see how I got on there as a vegan and maybe it can help you if you’re planning a trip to the Algarve.
This was only my second trip as a full time vegan so I was taking careful note of the daily obstacles I faced and the ways around them, mainly regarding food. So let’s start with the food, Portugal is definitely not known for it’s vegan friendly cuisine, being famous for their seafood and meat dishes. As we were staying self-catering, we ventured out to the local supermarket to stock up, as most days we planned to splodge out by the pool and eat in. So tip number 1 is about Portuguese supermarkets; go small for lunches and big for dinners. In the small ones expect limited salad ranges, lots of fruit, small range of bread (not always fresh) and some basics like humus, olives, crisps, etc, which suited us for lunches and snacks just fine. However, if you’re planning on cooking meals for dinner I strongly suggest making the trip to a bigger one like InterMarche or the Continente hypermarket, these tend to have a wide range of dinner basics like dried pasta, rice and noodles, loads of fresh fruit and veggies and sauces for pasta or curry dishes. I went to an InterMarche and even found vegan burgers, sausages and tofu! I would recommend starting at a big supermarket for stocking up and only using the small ones for top ups.
Eating out was a bit more difficult, a lot of over-explaining of veganism and double-checking of ingredients before ordering. I mainly stuck to bruschetta, vegetable pasta dishes (was told in one place that their tagliatelle didn’t contain any egg) and customised pizzas. In terms of desserts, just accept now that there won’t be any and move on. Unless you like sorbet, in which case you’re fine. There is fresh fruit everywhere though and you really are spoiled for choice; watermelon, mangoes, papaya, coconuts, passion fruit, and all fairly cheap compared to the UK.
We explored the markets in Loule on our last day and I’m so glad that we did, the place was a real experience. There is a market held there every Saturday morning and includes the typical farmers markets but also stands selling clothes, jewellery, bags, shoes and gifts – a perfect last stop on your Algarve itinerary. I found a clothes stall selling pieces made with natural fibres like linen and bamboo and were hand-dyed with flowers, leaves, bark and metals, all in an ecologically sound process. I loved the earthiness of these pieces and the fact that they were eco-friendly made them all the more appealing! Portugal is also well known for their cork products, and the stalls included lots of handbags, purses and other accessories made using this natural material and they looked so pretty and well made.
In terms of things to do there you are spoiled for choice, from touring old towns and castles, to beach activities like jet-skiing and Para-gliding. We gave jet-skiing a go and it was well worth the fear-factor, definitely a memorable experience! I did notice a lot of signs for Zoomarine, a place where they make dolphins, seals and sea lions are forced to put on shows for a crowd and are kept in really bad conditions, leading to ill health and behavioural abnormalities. It made me sad to see their lack of compassion towards animals and I would urge everyone to avoid going to these types of places as they are not concerned with animal welfare or the education about marine life. Instead, we opted for a dolphin watching boat tour, it’s much less invasive for the animals and you get to see them in their natural habitats. The boat driver explained about the laws in Portugal protecting the dolphins and how they operate their tours in a way that respects them and gives them space.
I even managed to make a friend while I was over there, everyone meet Rusty Blue – my adopted Portuguese dog buddy! He wandered into our villa garden on the first day and hung around for the week, only disappearing when we had all gone to bed. We called him that because of his one bright blue eye, so cute! I made sure he had fresh water every day and some food and he was such a character, it was hard to say goodbye by the end of the week! I hope he is being looked after by whoever his owners are…
One of the most anti-vegan places in Portugal is Faro Airport – BE WARNED! Another tip from me to you is to bring your own lunch with you when you fly back, trust me you will not be sorry. The airport had very few vegan options, unless you wanted a Subway sandwich with just salad (I’d rather not, thanks) or an overpriced humus wrap – which I begrudgingly had to settle for. However, there was a candy stall and I managed to find a pack of sweets that were vegan – perfect for the office souvenir! On the flight back I was reading the RyanAir in-flight magazine and there was a double-page spread of cruelty-free make up, including Bare Minerals (vegan except for some of their brushes and carmine in a few products) and Urban Decay (they are cruelty-free and have a new vegan range – go check it out!) - it was great to see brands like these getting publicity.
Overall, I’d say that the Algarve was a good place to visit if you’re vegan and, if I had more time, I would of liked to have tried out some of their vegan restaurants and cafes. However, I would of liked to have seen a better attitude towards animals, from the abandoned dogs to the dolphin shows it didn’t seem like Portugal had a very modern view on animal welfare. I did see some stickers for an anti-bull fighting protest that was coming up, which makes me think there is a growing awareness of animal rights and maybe a movement has begun? When I was in the town of Silves, we kept seeing ‘vegan’ or ‘go vegan’ written on buildings, which made me think there might be a growing youth movement that’s waving the flag for veganism in Portugal.
Have you been to the Algarve? What places have you found to be very vegan-friendly? Let me know your thoughts Juntil next time my loves! xoxo