Last post about Gran Canaria, I promise!
There wasn’t much on Happy Cow for Gran Canaria itself or Playa del Inglès, where we were staying. I will aim to add a few of my reviews as I am conscious that Happy Cow is what we make of it!
There is, however, a Facebook group for vegetarians and vegans in Gran Canaria – it’s in Spanish but it should be easy enough to see restaurant names and addresses and whether they are suitable for vegetarianos or veganos.
Going out: You will be able to eat something, but nothing overly fulfilling – sandwich shops like Pret are your best bet where at least you know what you’re getting.
Coming back: You may not be able to find so much as a decent piece of fruit or plain salad. At best you can get a plain salad, maybe a jacket potato or some chips if you are lucky.
My advice: whether you are picky or not, on a budget or not, health-conscious or not, at the very least bring a plentiful supply of sweet and savoury snacks. Nuts and protein bars are great and don’t take up much room for the amount of sustenance they provide.
Soy milk is readily available even in smaller grocery stores – usually Vivesoy but in larger stores you may find Alpro or a cheaper own-brand. In the juice section I have also seen Vivesoy juice+soy milk drinks – it might sound vile but they are surprisingly good, and a good way to add a bit of protein to a sugary fruit juice.
Rice milk is quite often available, and I saw almond milk and oat milk in bigger stores.
Soy yoghurts are usually quite easy to find, even in a majority of smaller stores. Look for Kalise brand.
I saw tofu once in the big Eurospar – it was in a flat carton in the health food/free from section. Never seen fresh tofu in a refrigerated section.
I have yet to spy any veggie sausages, veggie burgers, or any other similar products in any supermarket.
Most places will have a free from section – the big emphasis appears to be on gluten free and diabetic foods (with sugar-free chocolate available in many small outlets) and nothing – as far as I can tell – is marked “vegan”. A few brands of biscuits are often vegan – normally quite generic types of biscuits, and none of the moist cake-type treats. Luckily, the palmier biscuits of my Paris-based childhood memories are always vegan. Ben taste-tested a few as I don’t trust myself around them, and these were his favourites:
There are a few Chinese buffets and restaurants which will always have vegetable dishes but beyond that options are usually limited.
Almost every restaurant (apart from the Asian restaurants) – including “steakhouses” and “grills” will do pizza, pasta, paëlla, Canarian potatoes (patatas arrugadas) and salads. These can all be made vegan, if not overly interesting.
There are a few Italian restaurants – pasta is often egg free and pizza can usually be made vegan without cheese.
Restaurants advertising tapas won’t have much on the menu but as above, can usually make something including potatoes, rice, or pasta and vegetables.
There are a couple of Mexican restaurants where at least guacamole and beans can help bulk out a vegetable-and-grain dish.
There are a few British-style pubs – these appear to have the least vegan-friendly menus, but I didn’t actually explore any of them too closely.
Many ice cream places don’t even have sorbets, or may offer a lemon sorbet. When they do, staff usually don’t know if the sorbets are vegan-friendly – in my experience, staff can guarantee dairy-free but not egg-free and some commercial sorbets oddly sometimes contain egg, but rarely. Pingüino Soul offered the widest selection I could find.
I couldn’t see anywhere else that would offer vegan-friendly snacks, unfortunately!
Tips for eating out
- Don’t bother with the word “vegan” as you will waste time and energy – explain you are vegetarian and don’t eat egg or dairy (or honey, if this is likely to be an ingredient in your dish)
- Most places do seem to cook their food fresh, and have a plentiful array of vegetables to cook with, so don’t be afraid to ask if they can make you anything before picking out set options
- Maître d’s are always out touting their restaurant – use this to your advantage and ask them what they can make you before you settle on a place, as they will be keen to hold on to a potential customer
- Olive oil is usually the cooking fat of choice, but obviously do double-check
- Mixed salads, in my experience, are good but may include egg – apart from that, what is listed on the menu does tend to be what you get (unlike some places I’ve been where you will be greeted with surprise cheese or surprise lardons in your dish!)
All pretty straightforward, really. Another no-brainer: be polite but assertive. Take your time to explain what you want or need, but be clear that if they’re not prepared to accommodate you are prepared to go elsewhere.
At first glance the Canary Islands are totally vegan-unfriendly, but I have been lucky enough to have only positive interactions with helpful staff, which made it really quite a pleasant experience if not a culinary epiphany.
I will keep hunting for resources and add them in to that top section – if you know of any others, please let me know!