By Emma Clarkson
My first impression of Lanzarote, owing to the recent rains, was that this place is like a cross between Scotland and Mars. If you forget the fact that all of the 32 mountains are actually volcanoes (sleepy ones) then to me this place really feels like Scotland or possibly England’s Lake District. But like I said, there had been some recent rains and the island was unusually green. Usually these peaks aren’t green at all, and are covered with volcanic gravel. So it would normally be more like Mars and less like Scotland. Either way, it would be difficult to deny that this place is unusual, and with the rabbits running around too it feels like some sort of outer-space Teletubby-scape.
Lanzarote is one of seven Canary Islands, owned by Spain but closer in location to Africa. It’s a small island, home to around 140K people. This place has a reputation for older couples or families, typically British or German, who come for quiet beach holidays. So it was a surprise to find a decent range of vegan and veggie places here – seemingly there is a burgeoning scene here which is doing pretty well. Happy Cow lists 19 vegan / veggie friendly joints in Lanzarote and I was really happy to check a few of them out.
First stop was The V Factor in the capital Arrecife, close to the Grand Hotel. This place is kitsch, in a retro 80s way. Funky boho décor and retro music add a backdrop to a really decent menu to give a very cool experience, you should definitely check this place out when you are in town. It’s been open for three years and offers a menu of sandwiches, burgers (everything is 100% vegan), hot dogs, salads, wraps and AMAZING juices, along with a 3 course meal of the day. The dishes were all presented beautifully – a lot of effort is put into plating the food nicely. The menu of the day consisted of a delicious Spanish potato omelette, (which was the hands-down winner in this place by a mile), served at room temperature with sobresada and vegan mayonnaise. Delicate and with a gorgeous yellow colour – you must try this when you go to V-Factor. Next was a cauliflower and leek dish in a soy sauce, served in a cabbage leaf – it was a little oily but tasted good. I also got to try the hot-dog which was a yummy spinach sausage in a perfectly soft bun, served with onion flakes, mustard and vegan mayo. For dessert there was ice cream topped with a homemade red berry jam and this was to die for. Approved! 4 out of 5 avocados on the Guacamole Scale.
While you are here in Lanzarote, be sure to pop into a little shop on the west coast called Tienda de Lourdes. I hesitate to use the word “delightful” but really there is no other word to describe this little gem. Come here for your veg and yummy dried fruits. Be careful with the dried figs which are addictive.
The next stop was quite an accidental find – we found El Sibarita on a drive around the west coast in a little surf town called Famara. The food is OK, nothing to get excited about, but the location is lovely and it’s a great place to grab lunch while you’re on the beach. They serve veggie and vegan plus some Asian style dishes containing chicken. Two and a half avocadoes on the Guacamole Scale for food, but four for location.
The next day I had the absolute pleasure of meeting the lovely Belgian couple Miel and Davy of Bistro Arbol. Their place in the beach resort town of Puerto del Carmen really is a passion project, and it shows. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, with lots of beautiful plants and fairy lights which make it feel something special. These guys are super welcoming and they are more than happy to talk about their food and ingredients, most of which are sourced locally. There’s a great drinks menu with loads of yummy juices and infusions as well as a range of Belgian beers. Again there’s a set menu plus a dish of the day, which today was “Salade Liegeouise” – a stunning mixture of potatoes, roasted pumpkin (which was deliciously sweet), cabbage, green beans, and a mustard dressing. I got to sample a couple of tapas – and was blown away by the flatbread and aubergine and tomato spread, with yogurt and mint – so delicious and the bread was perfectly moist, and the “funky falafel” was light and tangy. The “Catch of the Day” was a mountain of a salad with strips of seitan which were seasoned to perfection, with mushrooms, and a lentil and carrot spread. An amazing combination of warm and cold flavours and different textures, pure heaven. Finally, I simply had to try the chocolate mousse and the chocolate cake (don’t judge – if you had seen them you would have to try both too!) – the choc cake was made with banana and coconut oil, served with a coulis of fruits of the forest, and the mousse was sprinkled with nuts and mint, Absolutely sublime. Five out of five avocados . Thanks, Miet and Davy!
Next, apologies to Green Tara who I was supposed to visit for lunch the next day but I’d accidentally double-booked. Sorry! If you’re in the Playa Honda area be sure to check out this place as it looks amazing. Instead though, for my final dollop of Canary Island vegan loveliness, I headed over to El Veganito del Charco, back in the capital Arrecife. This is a sweet little shop selling all kinds of vegan meats, cheeses and ice creams, as well as a selection of home made food for lunch. The food is primarily for takeaway but there are a couple of tables downstairs and upstairs is a really cute little room where you can eat and also play some games, and browse a selection of books on animal rights and related issues. The lady here is adorable and loves to chat and get to know you. There are burgers, subs and hotdogs etc on the menu, plus a number of home-made dishes which you can pile onto your plate buffet-style for 8 euros. Make sure to try the chard croquettes which are heavenly. Four big avocados on the Guacamole Scale! Eating in El Veganito feels like you’re at Auntie’s house, but it just so happens that Auntie is a vegan badass.
Gracias Lanzarote, you fed me up! I’m impressed. But now I need to diet!
When Emma isn’t stuffing her face as the No Meat Nomad, she’s TheFreerlancer.
By Emma Clarkson