“Neither one of you is vegan or anything, right?”
…that was the first question our hospitalero asked us we checked into our very first albergue in Saint Jean Pied de Port. It was a strange question. Even in the United States, “vegetarian” is usually as far as people go when asking about special diets. Before I could respond (and say yes, I am) she followed with:
“I certainly hope not. You can’t do that here.”
Five weeks into the Camino Frances, though, I can happily say I haven’t found that warning to be true. Accordingly, this post is directed at anyone who would like to walk to Santiago while following a plant-based diet. It’s also directed to anyone who might think doing a plant-based Camino is impossible.
There will always be naysayers, but I want to stress the fact that it CAN be done. I began the Camino committed to a plant-based lifestyle, but (because of the naysayers) I allowed myself to doubt the practicality of even being 100% vegetarian. Luckily again, I’ve had no problems avoiding meat as I’ve walked.
Even though I can’t pretend I’ve been vegan for the length of the Camino (30 days so far), following a vegan diet along the Way isn’t as outlandish as it may sound. With proper thought, planning, and a little bit of willpower, I think that having a vegan (or mostly vegan) Camino is more than just “possible”- it’s fun.
Throughout the last five weeks, walking a vegetarian Camino hasn’t been difficult. And as I get more comfortable here, it’s become increasingly easier to eat “mostly” vegan.
Furthermore, this post is not just for “veggies” (as I’ve been dubbed by my Spanish walking companions). In fact, along the way I’ve met a great number of pilgrims following an almost limitless combination of diets. From gluten-free, dairy-free, to raw foodies, the Camino accommodates; food choices (or dietary restrictions) shouldn’t stop anyone from completing a Camino or scare anyone from beginning one.
Over the last five weeks, I’ve had my fair share of some spectacular vegan meals; I’ve also eaten my share of some less-than-impressive food.Despite the positive tone of this post, I know I make better food choices when I’m at home- I’ve eaten more white bread and pasta in the last thirty days than I have in the last five years, for one thing. Nevertheless, thirty days into my journey, I’m happy, healthy, and plant-based!
Throughout the next few weeks, I’ll be posting about some of my favorites from Burgos, León, and othe places along the Way. Even though I’ve steered clear of many traditional meat-laden Spanish dishes, I’ve still had a very delicious and successful (food) tour of Spain!
[UPDATE: I called this post “green” after one of the coolest places I’ve stayed this Camino- Albergue Verde in Hospital de Orbigo. More to come!]