While preparing for the Camino Frances I asked this question to many people who had walked the Camino before and invariably the answer would be “Yes”.
None of the people I asked were vegetarian.
My experience is that a lot of non-vegetarians in Australia don’t know much about the vegetarian diet and seem to be under the impression it’s just salad!
As a vegetarian that has walked the Camino I can now give you a more informed answer.
It will be hard if you expect to get a vegetarian meal at restaurants, cafes/bars or albergues. There are some but they can be few and far between – see A list of vegetarian places to eat on the Camino.
No, it’s easy if…
It’s easy if you are self sufficient and cook for yourself. There is vegetarian food available along the Camino Frances so you won’t have to cook every day…
Small villages may not have shops but at some point during the day you will pass a grocery store of some description. Keep your eye out and have some food in your pack just in case.
- Nuts and seeds. These are easy to replenish along the way. You will find them in supermarkets, small shops and petrol stations.
- Spices. Have a small amount with you. Spices are available along the way as well but mainly in larger towns at supermarkets. There’s a great spice shop in St Jean Pied de Port too.
- Nutritional Yeast. We brought this from Australia and didn’t see it in Spain. It’s light to carry and can be added to any dish, or sprinkled in tomato sandwiches.
- Miso. Small sachets of miso are light and it’s a versatile flavouring.
- A small bottle of Olive Oil would have been good
At the start of the trip we also carried some porridge oats. This was good to have for the first few days for breakfast, especially in Roncesvalles.
Fruit is widely available, even in small villages, and I usually had a couple of banana’s tucked into the net on my pack.
Nut bars and small packets of olives could be found from time to time.
I didn’t see fresh cruciferous vegetables in the supermarkets until we were near Santiago but there were always good fresh vegetables in each region.
There was never a problem getting legumes as these were always available in jars or cans.
Although not too exciting or healthy there was always pizza or pasta to fall back on if we couldn’t walk any further and no shops/kitchen were available.
Be prepared to be flexible.
Do I need to carry a stove and a pot?
If you’re starting at St Jean Pied de Port you will be given a list of albergues when you register at the pilgrims office. This shows which albergues have kitchen facilities.
We carried a gas stove and pot which was useful but we could have managed without it.
I bought a small camping gas bottle in St Jean Pied de Port if you are wondering and it lasted the whole trip.
We found Albergues with kitchens had pots but we didn’t stay in any municipal albergues in Galicia (renowned for not supplying pots). If you stay in private albergues with kitchens I doubt it will be a problem.
Breakfast for us was usually after a couple of hours walking in the morning, in a bar when we got to a village. Cheese sandwiches – bocadillo con queso – and croissant are widely available along with tea or coffee. For vegans there is not so much choice – bread is always available but you will need to carry your own filling. Fruit is also widely available.
It’s useful to know enough Spanish to be able to ask for salad without tuna, sandwiches without ham, lentils without pork etc.!