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Life | Travel

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking Guide

Before leaving the vegan-haven that is NYC, I was very anxious about finding vegan food in Paris. Traditional French food is anything but vegan-friendly. And last time I went to Venice for 10 days, I felt very undernourished…while eating a delightful pizza or pasta twice a day. To non-vegans that sounds outrageous, but we vegans know that eating a lot of calories doesn’t mean eating well-balanced, nutrient-dense meals–and the lack of any protein for 10 days was really difficult. So when well-meaning omni friends said things like “you won’t have any problems in Paris, they have excellent salads there,” I inwardly thought, ‘I’d like to see you try being happy ordering salads without cheese for 12 days!’

But I’m happy to report that it’s very easy to eat well as a vegan in Paris! For the past six days I’ve been having some of the (dare I say it?) most delicious meals I’ve ever had. Of course there are tips and tricks to this. Let me show you what I mean!

1. Look for un bio magasin (organic store) and load up on vegan groceries.

In our neighborhood of Montmartre alone we found 2 different organic stores simply by walking around. On our first day here, we took a shopping bag and loaded up on fresh vegetables, fruits, and vegan groceries (see below).

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
Un bio

These places sell all manner of vegan goodies, like hazelnut milk, tofu, seitan, vegan granola bars, even soy chocolate pudding!

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
Hazelnut milk, olive baked tofu, quinoa, soy chocolate pudding, Lebanese style seitan…
paris_vegan_bar
For snacks, you can find vegan granola bars like this one with hazelnuts, or there is always fresh baguette with confiture!

2. If at all possible, try to stay at an apartment or some place with a kitchen.

Because of my “condition,” we knew we’d have the best time if we rented an apartment. It’s also usually cheaper than a hotel, and you get a better feel for a life as a local. Most of all, it’s so much easier if you can cook at least some of the meals. Here are some delicious home-cooked meals I’ve had.

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
For breakfast one day, my boyfriend added some extra veggies to packaged Lebanese Seitan with bulgur wheat–and it was one of the most delicious things ever!!
Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
Working lunch, the same day–pan-fried tofu patty and some ready-made carrot salad. Amazing!

True story: France has better soy products than the U.S. A few times already, we both looked at each other and said, “what just happened here?? How do they know how to make their tofu so good??” Their packaged tofu and seitan are simply incredible! We tend not to buy so much packaged soy goods at home other than plain tofu, but these were so amazing–and were great time savers when we were trying to speed through work so we can go outside and enjoy Paris! 🙂

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
Tofu scramble
Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
Quinoa porridge with hazelnut milk and pear–yum!!

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
We also didn’t feel pressured to eat dinner out, either! It’s almost a more authentic experience to do dinner at home, as the locals do, than always try to eat out (which is more expensive and usually less satisfying for the vegan).

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
Homemade vegan dinner–pasta with caramelized onions, peppers, and olive tofu!
Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
This pasta was one of the best I’ve made, in no small part due to that special French olive tofu. 🙂

3. Research vegan restaurants.

Before I left, I was given tons of recommendations from friends and Peaceful Dumpling readers! 🙂 I marked them on my Fodor’s Guide and whenever we were in the neighborhood, I tried to gently nudge my boyfriend that direction. When we were in Le Marais, we stopped by Hank, which ended up being a much more casual vegan burger place than I imagined. I ordered a BBQ burger and had a really nice conversation with our cook/cashier/server, who explained the difficulties of being vegan in France–and even told us that the law imposes strict meat requirements for school children, effectively banning vegetarianism. I told her that in some schools in U.S., they only serve vegetarian meals. But even though we come from such different cultures, vegans everywhere share a common thread. With her earnest and kind manners (and hipster clothes) she’d have fit right in Williamsburg.

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
Hank in Le Marais
Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
The burger could have used a bigger patty, but the vegan chocolate chip cookie (in the back) was excellent!

Without any prior planning, we ran right into Au Grain de Folie just a few blocks from our apartment. It’s a very homey, unpretentious hole-in-the-wall with grains, vegetables, and legumes cooked simply–sort of like how I eat at home.

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
I had the seitan plate, which came with fresh raw vegetables, lentils, brown rice, and a little veggie stew. Simple and satisfying.

4. Take advantage of the amazing fruits and vegetables and try something new!

Even if you don’t find a bio, you’ll still see plenty of fruit stores. We picked up this gorgeous mushroom called cepe for dinner one night.

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking

Vegan in Paris: Restaurants and Cooking
Dinner: pan-fried cepe mushrooms, basil tofu, and quinoa pilaf, with kale salad

5. Last but not least–know the essential French phrases.

Here vegan (pronounced vey-gan) has more ethical / lifestyle connotations (including what you wear, etc), whereas vegetalien/ vegetalienne means someone who eats a strict plant-based diet. Vegetarian means lacto-ovo vegetarian.

Je suis vegetalienne. (I am vegan).

Est-ce qu’il y a du fromage (du beurre) dedans? (Is there cheese (butter) in it?)

Sans fromage. (without cheese)

Always remember to say Bon jour / bonne journee (hello / good day), Bon soir / bonne soiree (good evening / good night), Merci / s’il vous plait (thank you / please) to anyone you meet! People have very good manners here.

I’m still here for another 6 days! Leave your restaurant recommendations in the comments below! 🙂

Related: Healthy Eating While Traveling

Going on a Cruise as a Vegan

5 Ways for More Joie de Vivre in Your Life

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Photo: Peaceful Dumpling

 

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