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.
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.