Vegetarian dishes can be difficult to find outside the city. So, if you're in a non-vegetarian restaurant, be mindful when ordering. Many of the dishes comprised of veggies are cooked with fish or chicken stock and most pastries traditionally contain lard. Still, if you tell the waiters you’re vegetarian, they'll usually go out of their way to recommend something suitable. The majority don’t speak English, so bring your dictionary with you or memorize some simple phrases. "Sao vegan/ vegetariano(a)." – I am vegan/ vegetarian. "Não como carne, galinha nem peixe." – I don’t eat meat, poultry or fish. "Não como manteiga, queijo, ovos e mel." – I don’t eat butter, cheese, eggs or honey.
They also offer a variety of drinks including natural juices, exotic cocktails, teas, infusions, wine, whisky, coffee, and even Brazilian caipirinha. If that doesn’t grab you, wait till you see the mouth-watering desserts: chocolate brownies, ice cream, arroz doce conventual (sweet rice with cinnamon) or classic tiramisu. I ordered the sweet apple crumble and must say it was absolutely delicious. Definitely recommend it!
Another lovely place in the heart of the city is Jardim das Cerejas, with seating for at least 30 people. The extensive buffet is also high quality and almost entirely vegan with a good selection of hot dishes (such as lasagne and tofu casserole) plus numerous cold sides, snacks, dips and soups. A bottle of house wine is about €7 and the buffet is around €10.
So, park your bike at Velocite Café and get some fuel for the rest of your ride. (Bikers get discounts!) They have great snacks (an absolutely delicious veggie burger) and drinks, plus they sell spare parts for your bike. You can also pick up some tips from local riders. While you’re there, you may want to visit the Gulbenkian Museum only 5 minutes away. Feast your eyes on provocative art and stunning views of the museum gardens. The fee is €10, but well worth it with pieces and collections from ancient Egypt to Lallique accessories.
If staying with friends or couchsurfing, my advice would be to make your own food plus snacks for road trips. The incredible local fruits and vegetables are overwhelming and really cheap too. You can find these at any supermarket, but especially the Celeiro Dieta (a natural foods chain with lunch-time dining) or Miosotis (an organic food shop in the city centre with lots of fresh produce).
All in all, Lisbon offers as many vegetarian options as any other big city. So, don’t cross it off your travel list just because of your diet. Trust me: you will miss a lot. There is no better feeling than lying down by the water with friends and savoring the stunning views of this magnificent city. Relax and enjoy your stay.
Andreea Ciucan is a vegan traveler, fashion marketer, and art lover. She began writing (mostly poetry) when she was five. This has slowly turned into a passion she shares with the world.