France and vegetarian, let alone vegan, are not really synonymous. This is a culture that embraces all the food groups. Especially a lunch of the day (menu du jour) will include them all. So can you (easily) be a vegetarian in France?
Well, I am not going to say it is always readily available everywhere, as is true of many countries. But it is definitely showing up more and more as an option. (Vegan, too.) And not just on the menu, but also we are seeing more and more vegetarian and/or vegan restaurants. Though still essentially exclusive to cities.
French Vegetarian Dishes
There are actually lots of French dishes that are vegetarian. For those non-vegetarians, they usually hint at salads. In France we are not talking a limp piece of lettuce, slice of tomato and cucumber here. We are talking large fill your tummy salads. Thing is that almost all, at the least the more well-known French salads are not vegetarian. But they could be.
There are though the famous quiches. Here there is more choice on the veggie front. Often found on menus, also in supermarkets, and for certain you will find in almost every boulangerie. The famous ratatouille has to be included in the veggie options of France. How about the classic onion soup, ouef cocotte or omelette? The latter are like salads, don’t think small. And not just for breakfast, rather more typical at lunch or evening. It may be stuffed with veg and cheese.
The Veganary offer up a large selection of known French dishes that are vegetarian and/or vegan. Or ones that can be adapted.
Vegetarian in France
As a cooking nation, it is quite the norm here in France to have a meat dish at say lunch. It is considered the main meal of the day. Then lighter more veggie orientated foods of an evening. Particularly in summer. Vegtable soups, potages, are very typical in the cooler months. Whilst charcuterie with its breads, cheeses, olives, and veggie dips (okay and often sausage, but that part can be ignored) are the norm.
This is not to say a vegetarian or vegan won’t struggle to find dishes to eat, especially in restaurants. It is getting better. But especially for the lunch of the day in smaller more limited places, there will rarely be an option. It’s about numbers. Luckily these days more and more restaurants offer menus online. So take the opportunity to peruse rather than be caught out.
There are some websites of where to eat for vegetarians in France. The Happy Cow in fact offers almost 6000 options (including vegan). The Veggie Table offers a selection around France, whilst the Culture Trip offer a selection in Paris. (There are in fact quite a few sites and articles of what is available in Paris. Too many to add in here. So just have a search online if the City of Lights is your only destination.)
Veggie Food Tours
There are also (food) tours of France that are for vegetarians and vegans, from just in Paris to all of France.
Veg minded Accommodation
There’s not just places to eat either. The Vegan and Vegetarian Hotels Website offers places to stay that also do meals. After a long day of sight seeing, and especially in some of the remoter places, this might be a better option.
And last but not least, you could hire a self-catering apartment. For my American readers, if you are unfamiliar with this concept, it is hiring an apartment or house (gite) that comes with a kitchen so you can cook your own meals as and when you wish. Something to consider if you have any food intolerances especially.
Vegetarian and Vegan Shopping
Shopping for vegetarian friendly food in supermarkets is not at all difficult, even for vegan, though truly specialist vegan foods, like a vegan cheese, will usually only be found in specialist shops. But they are increasing in availability.
Should you live in France, and have visiting vegan or vegetarians arriving. Don’t Panic. We have your back, and can offer some ideas and recipes from our own website: How to Cook for a Vegan or Vegetarian.
If you are all about veggies, whether growing or eating, we hope you will check out our garden, fruits and veg items from Our Shop. Here’s a taste…
Simply click on an image to see more.