Culture Shock, Uncategorized

Are there really more Spanish vegetarians?

I’ve just got back from a barbecue, in February. Fair enough, what started off as a planned barbeque did actually just end up as lunch indoors because of some mean looking clouds, but the meat loving idea was there.

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Slice of Jamón anyone? Photo by Ivana

That thought of meat sizzling on the hot coals as early as February was definitely a first – I normally wait until at least May. It was great getting stuck into some burgers and pork though. I actually tried fresh spinach for the first time, which might have actually been the highlight.

I could never become a vegetarian. I see the benefits and like the idea of it, but I don’t think I could get through a week without some meat sliding onto my plate, especially as I live in Spain, and my wife is a meat lover. So, I was astonished to read today on Think Spain, that nearly 1 in 13 Spaniards are now vegetarians or vegans. According to this article titled Vegetarian revolution, the number of restaurants and food stores catering exclusively for vegetarians and vegans has doubled since 2011.

The question on my meaty lips is how many of those vegetarians are hard core ones who never touch, smell or even look at meat and fish, and how many allow themselves to eat jamón. In the restaurant round the corner from where I work, I swear they had never even heard of the word ‘vegetariano’ until we had a teacher who didn’t like meat about 10 years ago. They actually suggested she eat jamón, I mean, who doesn’t eat jamón? I also know a teacher who considers herself as a vegetarian, but does have the occasionally leg of ham.

I’ve never thought about the impact of being a vegetarian in Spain, but it must be pretty hard work. The only pure vegetarian meal I’ve had out is pisto (a Spanish equivalent of ratatouille), and it’s one of my favourite dishes ever. I eat a lot of veg during the week, pisto, spinach with chickpeas, salad, and whatever else I can stomach, but when the weekend comes it is time for carne.

Eating out in Spanish restaurants is great, we don’t do it so much anymore, but meat is always on our wonky table somewhere. There’s just so many types you can have. When I was in a restaurant in Rota last summer, there was a great big chalk painted drawing of a pig on the wall, and all the parts were labelled with the specific name of the meat. One of my favourites has always been solomillo, and I found out that was the back part of the back. I also like presa, which is the front part of the back.

I can see why more and more Spaniards are becoming vegetarians though – it’s healthier, cheaper, and morally right. I also think it’s about time restaurants are catering more for those non-meat lovers. Compared to back home, I miss the option of having veggies when I go out for a meal. Whether I’ll chose them with so much lovely meat available is another thing.

What about you? Have you had any problems being a vegetarian in Spain? Do you think you are well catered for?

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