portugal, portuguese cuisine, travel

The Quest for Vegan Pasteis de Nata

May 18, 2016

The one thing I was most looking forward to in Portugal was trying a pasteis de nata – vegan of course.

I love food, who doesn’t? I especially love trying different food from other cultures but because I’m vegan, it’s an ongoing struggle to find traditional foods made without animal products.

Caldo verde found in Lupin, Porto

I was able to find plenty of vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Portugal and plenty of them veganised traditional Portuguese dishes. I was lucky enough to try vegan francesinha (a meaty sandwhich with melted cheese on top), caldo verde (kale and potato soup), vegan arroz de pato (similar to paella but made with duck or seitan in my case), vegan Portuguese rissole (normally made with prawns) but the one food I was unable to find was pasteis de nata.Vegan Arroz de pato found in Lupin, Porto

It wasn’t for lack of effort, I went into three different vegan eateries and asked for a pasteis de nata. All three of them were sold out! Maybe there was a vegan custard shortage in Porto and Lisbon, or maybe it was bad timing.A variation of francesinha made with tofu and courgette instead of meat and lettuce instead of cheese in Em Carne Viva, Porto.

Unfortunately, my holiday ended before the quest was completed and I never found a vegan version of those sweet, little custard tarts. So I made them myself when I got home with two simple ingredients: Alpro custard and Jus-Rol puff pastry. You could add cinnamon, nutmeg or any other of your favourite spices but I thought the pasteis de natas were tasty enough by themselves. Unfortunately, they weren’t made in Portugal (which I’m sure would have made them taste even more delicious) but in the UK – how boring. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to go back to Portugal and all the pasteis de natas will be vegan. Because you don’t need animal products to make amazing food. Eating animals was so 2012, guys.

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  • Reply Christina May 18, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Eating animals was so 2009, for me. 😉 I really like you insight on the traditional Portegese dishes! Caldo verde sounds yummy!

    • Reply LauraCawley May 18, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      Was eating animals ever cool, really? Caldo verde was soooo delicious, and probably super easy to make. I’ll have to make up a recipe for myself at home.

  • Reply Jessica December 31, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Hey! I’m traveling to Portugal soon and I was wondering if you could give me any tips on what I could eat there as a vegan/what restaurants typically have that’s vegan. I’m sixteen and relatively new to the lifestyle so that would help a lot! Thanks.

    • Reply LauraCawley January 1, 2017 at 12:33 am

      Hi! I actually have two guides on where to eat vegan in Lisbon and Porto on the vegan guides page above. In Lisbon I’d recommend ‘The Food Temple’, ‘Miss Saigon’ and ‘Vegana Burgers’ and for Porto I’d recommend ‘Lupin’ and ‘Black Mamba Burgers and Records’. c: Thanks for commenting!

  • Reply Vincent March 27, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Hey! In which vegan eateries did you ask for pasteis de nata? As they were out for it right then, I might give it a try the next time I go there!

    • Reply LauraCawley March 27, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      In Porto, both Lupin and Black Mamba were out and in Lisbon, The Food Temple and Miss Saigon serve them occasionally but they have rotating menus, so we got unlucky there too. Good luck!!

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