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Spain Travel

Finally, my dream trip to Spain (Madrid)!

The problem: Is there vegan and gluten-free options there?

I want to be prepared so I know what to look for (and I don't starve).

*Side note: It's a school run trip so I can't really venture off, so it would have to be "widely" available.

Any other tips? good maps? guides?

OMG, Violin, where have you been, girl? I thought you'd died and the dawgs et ya!

Go for fresh veggie things, like salads and that, of course, with the hottish weather starting it will be easy to find.

Let me have a think and I'll get back to you.

You can PM or email me (still have my addy?) if you want. Do you know where you'll be staying? DH was in the travel business so I should be able to find out some info.

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Oh my gosh! Yabbit i have missed you so much. No my dog didn't eat me. I promise. Wow you should see how big the smile plastered on my face is! I think I have your e-mail. Thanks so much. I am going to need all the help I can get. I really don't know what happened. I have been so busy that vegweb just disappeared for a very long time.

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Another question:

Any suggestions for the 12 hour plane flight? Can I trust what the plane might provide? What can you carry on or pack in a suitcase? Are there regulations?

I am probably going to pack a bunch of stuff in my suitcase as a back up and have to pay for an extra heavy case.

List:
Individually wrapped store-bought or home made gluten free cookies chock full of nuts and grains
Individual applesauces
GF Bars
Dried Fruit
Nuts and seeds
Instant Hummus and Refried beans
Jar of Peanut butter
GF Crackers, rice cakes, chips, pretzels, popcorn (how can I keep this from getting crushed?)

I would bring some instant meals/soup, but I don't know if the hotel has a coffee pot in the room none the less a microwave I could use...

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Someone in the States will have to speak for your list, as you'll be travelling from there. Don't count on a coffee pot in the room, or anything else. You eat in the hotel diningroom or in a cafe or whatever. There are no facilities for self-catering.

Do you know which hotel you'll be in? What month? How many days?

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I had trouble in Spain when I was vegetarian, so vegan would be even tougher.  Check out happycow.net for restaurant options.  Definitely bring peanut butter, nuts, dried fruit, etc.  You can buy soy milk there (I just got some soy milk in Morocco that was made in Spain and it was the best soy milk I've ever had!)  I think you'll be fine though, no worries!

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When I went on a class trip to Spain I had a really hard time with the food..specifically dinner.  Since we were in a large group...about 40 people (including a group of students from another state) we all got the same food.  It didn't  matter if you liked it or not.  It was all pre-planned.  Granted this was 15 years ago so maybe it's different now.  I know the kids from the other school brough instant grits and oatmeal and it was always easy for them to find hot water.  I pretty much just picked around my plate for what I could eat and supplemented it with fruit and veggies that I'd buy whenever I'd see a market.

Have fun!!!  It's a pretty place to see. 

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congrats!!!!        yes they have vegetarian restaurant and tapas you only need to check by yahoo or  google. yesterday my i teach spanish vegan food to my class in puerto rico. and i find diferent names of restaurants.  you can find vegetable paella there and gaspacho this is a cold vegetable soup for hot days. dont by afraid and enjoy your trip!!!!!!!! :D

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DON'T get gazpacho, violin, as I know you can't handle gluten and gazpacho has bread in it. I make it without at home, but in restaurants and bars it has it in because they use up old bread that way.

I wuzgunna say, yes, eat tapas all you can, the kind that are on show on the bar in the cold or hot case, you can see what's in them. Go for marinaded artichokes/beans/salad type things. "Ensaladilla rusa" is good. A lot of times the mayo is no-egg mayo. You may have to "sin" a bit in terms of eating around stuff. It depends on how strict you are and how hungry you get. You can now get a lot of soy yogurts and milk here, but no soy cheese. Look for a Mercadona and hit the cold cases and the milk aisle.

A friend says, as long as things are factory-sealed up in packaging, you should be alright to bring stuff along. Depending of course on  your airline. DO check about beauty products as here in Europe, at least, they won't let you fly with stuff like shampoo in your luggage due to wierdo terrorist activity.

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I also wanted to mention that you shouldn't be afraid to ask for what you need.  I'm referring specifically to the people you are traveling with.  I know I tend to feel guilty when I can only eat at certain places, but people are generally happy when you can get what you need.

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I just found this web page about vegan travel to Spain:

How to survive - and thrive - as a vegetarian in Spain's markets, tapas bars, restaurants, and while traveling.

Vegetarianism can be an admittedly difficult feat in ham-loving Spain. The country has had an undeniably long, proud love affair with meat for as long as anyone can document or remember. (Just look in on any Museo del Jamón location for proof.)

But take heart. Spain today is an undoubtedly hip Western nation and good vegetarian fare is now a question of where you go and who you ask. Surviving, or dare we say it, even thriving, as a vegetarian in Spain can be easy enough once you know what to look for.

Here’s your vegetarian and vegan guide on navigating your way through Spain’s four main food environments:

Markets and supermarkets

As is probably the case back in your home country, any market or supermarket is a safe bet for everyday shopping if you keep your eyes open and you’re prepared to read the ingredient lists on the back of packages. However, if you’re looking to find tofu, soy, and wheat gluten in all their forms; milk alternatives; and other vegetarian foods, you’ll need to make your way to a health food store or an herbolario.

Health food stores

The health food stores in Spain generally carry a wide variety of organic, gourmet, and vegetarian items, both classic Spanish (such as jars of organic pisto) and international (such as sushi wraps and organic tiramisu). Soy, rice, and almond milk are easily available, as are a myriad of meat alternatives, including seitan, tofu, and soy crafted into hamburgers, kebabs, filets, and other faux creations. You might also be able to get your hands on delicacies such as Catalan butifarras made from soy.

Aside from health food stores and supermarkets, such as NaturaSì in Madrid (http://www.naturasi.es/), a number of vegetarian restaurants have health food stores on the premises or next door. Here’s a list of vegetarian restaurants and health food stores throughout Spain. (http://www.happycow.net/europe/spain/madrid/)

Herbolarios

Though the selection can be extremely limited, most herbolarios have a dietética section where they sell vegetarian products such as almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, tofu, and a veggie burger or two alongside low sugar, wholewheat, and diet foods.

Vegetarian and vegan tapas

Going out for tapas is the quintessential Spanish experience you won’t ever want to miss. But before you despair upon finding that most tapas places have only one or two vegetarian tapas on offer, let this be an opportunity to participate in the grand tradition of the Spanish tapas crawl. Go ir de tapas and have a tapa or two at one place, then move on to the next, and so on until you’ve had your fill. Just follow your nose with our quick guide to vegetarian and vegan tapas.

Note: While these tapas are usually suitable for vegetarians or vegans, unless you have a chance to see the tapa in front of you, make sure you ask if it contains any meat or shellfish. One tapas place may put bits of ham in their cheese croquettes, and another won’t. One place might try to put ham strips on your pan con tomate, and another wouldn’t dream of it.

Vegan tapas

pisto manchego = zucchini, tomato, bell pepper, and onion stew
escalivada = grilled eggplant, onion, and bell pepper
aceitunas = olives
champiñones al ajillo = garlic-sauteed mushrooms
alcachofas al ajillo = garlic-sauteed artichokes
pimientos asados = roasted bell peppers
zarangollo = zucchini and onion stew

Restaurants

There are two types of restaurants for a vegetarian in Spain: a regular or vegetarian restaurant. At a regular restaurant you may feel like you’re foraging for the one vegetarian item on the menu, but at a vegetarian restaurant your dining companions may feel the same frantic impetus searching for that magical meat and potatoes combination. But whether you opt for mainstream risk or sure-fire subculture, be assured that the quality of Spanish gastronomy is high and dining is one of Spain’s many pleasures.

Regular restaurants

To get the most out of your restaurant experience, it pays to strategize.

Strategy #1: Tame the menu del día

The menu del día’s second plate options are notoriously meat only. To compensate, order two vegetarian-friendly firsts. Or ask if you could substitute the meaty second with a tortilla or other item they’re bound to have in their repertoire.

Strategy #2: Knowledge is power

“What’s in that anyway?” you may ask. Be sure to find out! Common vegetarian pitfalls include soup broth made from meat stock (even in vegetable soups) or salads and plates of vegetables that arrive with bits of ham in it. Ask if they can skip the ham.

Vegetarian restaurants

In Spain, vegetarian restaurants generally offer three varieties of cuisine (and décor) for varying vegetarian and vegan tastes: haute-gourmet, hippie, and classic.

Let’s examine three illustrative case studies:

Haute-gourmet: With an exotic decor, say elegant South Seas shipwreck meets Greenpeace, Madrid’s vegetarian restaurant Isla del Tesoro offers up a creative, internationally-inspired menu with names like Volcán castizo, El buen rollito, or Cesta del pecado. Ingredients may include seitan, quail eggs, bulgur, algae, and yucca. (But not all at once.) Food is artistically presented with edible garnish.

Hippie: With a brightly-colored, psychedelic décor and a juice bar at the front, Barcelona’s vegan restaurant Juicy Jones serves up a variety of wholesome food, including hearty soups, salads, and Indian-inspired dishes.

Classic: With a fairly typical Spanish décor of dark wood, painted tile, and brick, Madrid’s El Estragón serves up substantial, down-home Spanish food that just happens to be vegetarian. Think no-frills Spanish comfort food.

As you would expect, there’s a greater chance of finding good vegetarian options in Spain’s bigger cities, but more and more vegetarian restaurants are popping up in smaller towns these days. Some vegetarian restaurants offer one or two menu items for your meat-eating dining companions, but most don’t.

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True, you do better choice-wise in Madrid and Barcelona (particularly Barca, which prides itself on being hip) than say down here in Sevilla. Because sevillanos are hidebound about everything but particularly food! They put meat in salads!! (Well, tuna.)

We don't say "herbolario", though, we say "herboristería." Look for Santiveri, the national healthfood chain...pricey but they have stuff. Or check the supermarket of the Corte INgles or OpenCor, their 24-hr branch.

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True, you do better choice-wise in Madrid and Barcelona (particularly Barca, which prides itself on being hip) than say down here in Sevilla. Because sevillanos are hidebound about everything but particularly food! They put meat in salads!! (Well, tuna.)

We don't say "herbolario", though, we say "herboristería." Look for Santiveri, the national healthfood chain...pricey but they have stuff. Or check the supermarket of the Corte INgles or OpenCor, their 24-hr branch.

I was in Barcelona a few summers ago, and got the tuna-is-a-vegetable treatment a few times! Ugh--I wish my Spanish was better. I learned how to say "does this have fish in it" and "does this have ham in it" pretty quickly.

My three saviors:

1. Fruit. Lots and lots of delicious, fresh fruit that I could keep in my hotel room from small markets dotted all around.

2. All-vegan restaurants. I found this great one off the main strip in Barcelona (can't remember the name) that falls under Category 3 of vegan restaurants (the classic Spanish comfort food).

3. Non-Spanish restaurants. Not great for authenticity but a savior for me on a few occasions. Barcelona at least had Maoz falafel everywhere. I also found a vegetarian (mostly vegan) Chinese buffet.

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I was in Madrid last summer with a group for study abroad. I was only vegetarian then, but it was difficult to find food at times. And as others have said, many people are unsure of what a vegetarian or vegan is, there were many times they told me something was vegetarian, but it had tuna in it or ham... So my recommendation is to learn some phrases in spanish, 'i am vegan, i can't eat meat, chicken, fish, dairy, eggs, gluten, etc....' this sounds complex, but if you aren't a spanish speaker, write them down. Being able to ask for things in Spanish was a big help when I was there...
We stayed in a hostel, so we had access to a full kitchen, but even if you don't, you could probably find some non-perishable stuff in the local supermarkets, produce is super-cheap and they had a lot of fresh items.
Also, look in some tour books before you go, we found a fantastic vegetarian restaurant (I'm pretty sure they had many vegan options) in the Rick Steves guidebook to Madrid.
Also, just make sure you call the airline ahead of time and then check at the gate before you board. I had a horrific time with United Airways and did not get a meal on the flight. The only veg-friendly meals I could find in the airport were salads, and I think if I remember I had to pick out tuna from it... desperate times....  :)

Good luck!

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If there's one thing you do, go to Unicornius Restaurant in Barcelona.

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