During my second week abroad, I spent the weekend in Paris. So for this installment of travel blog posts, I decided to write about my experience staying there as a vegan tourist on a budget. I went into the trip understanding it would not be easy, and I was right. Paris, although incredibly beautiful, is not a particularly vegan-friendly city. That being said, it’s not impossible to eat well as a vegan traveling in Paris, and with these tips you can still get the most out of your time there.
1. It’s probably not vegan
The first tip is not really a tip at all; it is more so a necessary heads up. If you are just walking around and stumble across a corner cafe, the likelihood of there being a vegan meal option on the menu is slim. Clearly labeled vegetarian options are certainly more prominent, but they generally include egg and dairy. This makes things difficult because asking to omit something from a dish is pretty uncomfortable, and sometimes they’ll just flat out say “No.” There is definitely a struggle to find balance between maintaining your morals and being culturally sensitive to a city that seriously prides themselves on their cuisine.
2. But sometimes you’ll get lucky!
Don’t worry, all hope is not lost. There will be times when you’ll look at a menu item that is beaming up at you with only vegan ingredients listed in the description. The salad section is a good place to look first. You may just find your very own delicious salad filled with beautiful veggies and a nice vinaigrette.
3. Desperate times call for desperate measures
Sometimes, there is not even one remotely vegan option on the menu. Sometimes, there’s a labeled vegetarian menu item that seems vegan based on the description, but then the dish comes out topped with a hard boiled egg or some type of cheese. In these desperate moments, I took what I could get, removed whatever non-vegan ingredient that was on it, and ate it. I didn’t feel good about it in the moment, but sometimes it felt like I had no other choice. It’s not a great situation in all honesty, but if you’re doing your best and this moment happens, I think it’s important not to dwell on it too much.
4. Bread is your best friend and worst enemy
Oh, bread. It is basically a main food group in Paris, it’s cheap, and it’s also usually vegan. When all else failed, I knew I could at least eat a baguette to get me through the day. It was comforting and a nice excuse to eat as much bread as I wanted. Unfortunately, when plain bread is your only option to eat for every meal of the day, for multiple days in a row, it gets old pretty quickly. I’ve since gone back to my bread-loving ways, but right after my trip I didn’t even want to look at it. Try to interval bread consumption as much as possible, it will save you feelings of resentment and despair in the long-run.
5. Make use of produce markets
The produce in Parisian markets is absolutely gorgeous. Everything is so vibrant and fragrant. A great alternative to eating out at a restaurant is to pick up some fresh produce and have a picnic. There are countless places to sit outside and enjoy the beauty around you. The grounds of the Louvre were my personal favorite. One morning my friends and I found an open air market where I bought olives, dates, and a baguette. I later made an olive sandwich and ate it on the Pont des Arts bridge. The dates were my to-go snack for the rest of the trip, which was a nice change of pace from eating so much bread.
6. Do your research ahead of time
A really helpful thing to do for yourself is to find resources ahead of time about vegan food options in Paris. Looking online at various blog posts and videos on people’s experiences, as well as finding vegan restaurants in the area, will make all the difference in you feeling prepared to eat vegan with ease.
7. Pack energy bars & other travel snacks
There’s an entire beautiful city to see and a limited amount of time to do it. Because of this, there may be moments where you feel like you don’t have time to just sit in a cafe for a couple of hours just for one meal. Having travel snacks with you at all times will assist in keeping you going without hunger getting in the way of your tourist attraction goals for the day.
8. Drink a lot of water
If you’re like me and not able to get a full profile of nutrients from the vegan options available, the least you can do for yourself is stay hydrated with plenty of water.
9. Bring a good pair of vegan shoes suited for all types of weather
I walked more on the streets of Paris than I think I’ve ever done before in my life. I also experienced sunshine and rain within in the same hour on multiple occasions. Not just in Paris, but if you’re traveling anywhere, you need a good pair of walking shoes. I’ve been wearing my vegan Dr. Marten boots pretty much everywhere, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. They are entirely comparable to the original Dr. Martens, being just as stylish, durable, and waterproof. But they are even better because they are cruelty-free!
10. Familiarize yourself with key French words
|Je suis un végétarien(ne).||I am a vegetarian.|
|Je ne mange pas de viande, de porc ou de poulet.||I do not eat meat, pork or chicken.|
|Je mange des d’œufs, du lait et du fromage.||I eat eggs, milk and cheese.|
|Je suis un végétalien(ne)||I am a vegan.|
|Je ne mange pas d’œufs, du lait ni de fromage.||I do not eat eggs, milk or cheese.|
|Je suis au régime.||I have a special diet.|
|Je ne peux pas manger de….||I can’t eat…|
|Je ne mange que…||I only eat…|
|Avez-vous des plats végétariens?||Do you have any vegetarian dishes?|
|Y a-t-il un restaurant végétarien près d’ici?||Is there a vegetarian restaurant near here?|
|Je mange que des vegetables, céréales et grains.||I only eat vegetables, cereals and grains.|
|Je ne mange pas de produits issus des animaux ou de leur exploitation ni du miel, oeufs ou laitage et ses dérivés.||I don’t eat any animal by-products, neither honey, eggs nor dairy and its derivatives.|