A Vegan in Icleand

By Megan Vick

Shorganics Family

 

 

Just last week (December 8-12), I visited Iceland with my husband and parents. We had a phenomenal time! Iceland is a beautiful, desolate, and magical country full of shy, but wonderfully friendly people. We booked a package deal through IcelandAir (a few hidden fees – buyer beware!) and I started doing my research on where to find some vegan/vegetarian food.

 

 

 

Map of Iceland

 

We stayed in Reykjavik, the country’s capital. It was one of the most picturesque cities I’ve ever visited. I was nervous to visit Iceland because they still practice whaling (which as a vegan – and a HUMAN – I am thoroughly against), but when I dug deeper, I learned many Icelanders are also against whaling. Supposedly, whaling still provides enough money and jobs to make it lucrative in this tiny arctic nation. And yes, there are many restaurants that serve whale (and puffin, and shark, and sheep testicles, and horse – ew).

 

 

 

However, there are infinitely more restaurants – including many right in the harbor, which refuse to serve any “traditional Icelandic food.” I was pleased to see this; and so were my meat-eating companions who still wouldn’t touch puffin, whale, or horse. A quick Google search of “vegetarian restaurants in Iceland” yielded many blog posts by travelers and several vegans too. You will not be disappointed with the results.

 

Icelandic horses

Who could eat that??

 

 

Even if you want to wing it once you get over there, a quick walk down Reykjavik’s main downtown street offers a restaurant every few feet and every single one offers at least one vegan/vegetarian option. One of my favorite things about Reykjavik is that every eatery displays their menu outside so you can decided if it’s the right place to eat before even setting foot inside. No more awkward exits after realizing the veggie burger contains eggs…

 

 

 

 

A word of caution to the hard-core vegans out there: Icelanders LOVE their dairy. Granted, it’s hormone free, pasture raised dairy (I saw the pastures – no factory farm milking machines in this country!), but dairy is nearly everywhere. Whether is cheese on a sandwich, milk/cream in sauces, or a hot chocolate made with cream (topped with whipped cream): dairy is everywhere. Because Iceland must import nearly everything, it can be an expensive visit. Fresh fruits and veggies are not as common as they are in the states because very few things can grow successfully in the Icelandic climate. They do have several greenhouses throughout the small villages to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and other staple veggies.

 

 

 

Whether you’re veg or not, Iceland is one of the most amazing countries I’ve ever visited. When you’re there choose to spend your money on vegetarian food and whale watching. Iceland’s main industry is tourism, so how you spend your money will influence the paths taken by the business owners and government.

 

 

Stay tuned for my next post about the unique experience at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. Namaste

Black lava rock beach

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12 thoughts on “A Vegan in Icleand

  1. I am so jealous. This sounds amazing and looks beautiful! Iceland has been on my travel to-do list for quite some time now. I can’t wait to get there. I eat meat occasionally but will not have any horse or sheep or whale. I’ll pay extra for veggies! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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    • I hope you do get to go!! Traveling in the off-season was a very budget-friendly way to get there. Although I didn’t try any, my parents said the fish was remarkably fresh (I should hope so!). Best wishes for your future travels! 🙂

      – Megan

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  2. I’m so excited to read about your experience as I’ve got an Icelandic friend who grew up with huge chunks of meat and a couple of potatoes on the side. She’s still totally bemused by my vegan diet but determined to offer me cake and other delicious things when I visit – great! 🙂

    I recently wrote an article for Cook Vegetarian Magazine about Continental and Scandinavian Christmas food traditions and included a section on her experiences. I hope you don’t mind me including the link – the story about the Jule lads is really interesting! http://media-cache-cd0.pinimg.com/originals/ab/af/e2/abafe2336b412e7af78ec6eae90d4253.jpg

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