Exploring the Vegan Canary Islands
Spain, home of bullfighting and jamón, is more plant-based than you would think. Vegans, for the most part, can find reasonably-priced hotels, restaurants, and shops all over, including the Canaries. Also, many local recipes are naturally plant-based or can be adapted to be so, making a vegan Canary Islands an easy place to discover.
There are more vegan-friendly hotels on Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, and Tenerife. These are popular tourist havens, after all. But the smaller El Hierro, La Graciosa, La Gomera, and La Palma also welcome vegans.
At El Hierro’s Hotel Puntagrande, I made like Peter Rabbit on Mr. McGregor’s vegetable patch via their Delights of the Garden. Staying at La Palma’s lighthouse hotel, Faro Punta Cumplida, I shopped for breakfast items with the owner at a local farmers’ market. Furthermore, I have earmarked the plant-based-friendly Hotel Añaterve in La Gomera’s Vallehermoso for a future stay.
Hotel chefs cater for vegans. Whatever your diet, I particularly rate Fuerteventura’s Hotel Rural Mahoh where I sampled plant protein Heura for the first time. Gran Canaria celebrity magnet Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia’s head chef Wolfgang Grobaeur grows ingredients at a nearby finca. Elsewhere, Tenerife’s uber-stylish The Ritz-Carlton, Abama has in-house Michelin-starred restaurants.
Vegan Canary Islands Restaurants
There are many plant-based restaurants and takeaways. Hotel eateries also open to non-guests. The three best for me, though not purely vegan, on Gran Canaria where I live are the suitably flashy Gold by Marina’s La Palmera Sur, the top-floor 360° at Bohemia Suites & Spa with panoramic views, and Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway’s Poemas Restaurant by Hermanos Padrón run by Michelin-starred brothers.
La Gomera’s Hotel Jardín Tecina also deserves acclaim. Normally, all their restaurants are open to non-guests. Currently, it’s just the Club Laurel ones with plant-based taster menus, including a romantic cave for two. Still, there is a KM0 approach to sourcing food. Take a weekly visit to their Eco Finca Tecina, birthplace of organic produce.
There are a number of specialist eateries on the Canary Islands. Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote’s main resort, is home to Bistro Árbol where sharing platters accompany classic vinyl albums played on a trusty Technics record player. In capital Arrecife, you’ll find The V Factor and their playful vegan take on take-out.
Another capital green retreat is for dessert fans. In Arrecife in fact, there is the Canary Islands’ first vegan cake shop. Indulge your sweet tooth at Pastelería Dulce Natural.
Green La Gomera
On La Gomera, Casa Efigenia has plenty of colourful creations for vegans. In the Valle de Gran Rey resort, sup/snack on smoothies and vegetarian/vegan tapas at Noah’s Ark. La Salamandra Gastrobar in capital San Sebastián de la Gomera pairs organic vegan wines with plant-based options. Another nearby place for veggies and vegans is Asociación Ibaya.
You won’t go hungry as a vegan on El Hierro. There is, for example, long-time friend to visiting veggies, Restaurante Casa Goyo in San Andrés. Yet the outlook for followers of a plant-based diet off to La Palma is brighter at Los Llanos de Aridane’s La Vitamina. They deliver vegans their RDA of goodness. Half an hour north, Tijarafe’s Veganoteca offers plant-based brunches.
Continuing up the map, you’ll reach Bio Cafe Finca Aloe in jaw-to-the-floor Garafía. This now only opens with a prior booking. On the opposite, airport, side, order vegan pizza at the capital Santa Cruz de La Palma’s Il Ghiottone Bar Pizzeria Ristorante.
Fuerteventura’s El Cotillo is home to Happy Cactus El Cotillo which is a health food shop and restaurant. There is more yummy fare at Corralejo’s H20 Juice Bar & Vegan Café. Nearby, try the signature nutty cheese at Baobab.
Come the Revolution
In capital Puerto de Rosario, there is a healthy food revolution going on at Delicias y Namàstè. Also in PDR is the raw-focused El Invernadero Restaurante. Knockdown tasting menus are available for under 20€. Bar y Cafetería Terra is another PDR fave if you crave poke bowls and sushi. Betancuria was Fuerteventura’s original capital and you can munch on vegan burgers at funky La Sombra.
Gran Canaria and Tenerife offer the (dande)lion’s share of vegan restaurants. Two of the best are in Tenerife’s south. In BuenaVida 100% Vegan of the Centro Comercial Fañabe Plaza in Costa Adeje, gourmet burgers are as succulent as they are meat-free. K-Vegan in Los Cristiano’s Passarela Oasis Shopping Center is celebrated for its seaweed meatball wrap. Up north, navigate San Cristóbal de La Laguna’s cobbled streets for the likes of Veggie Penguin (time your visit for weekend sweet potato fries), and the hearty dishes of Somos Lo Que Comemos.
Sustainable and Home Grown
Order takeout at Puerto Colón’s Tierra, Earth with ingredients from the family-run Finca La Caldera. Playa de las América’s Govinda’s specializes in holistic Vedic cuisine which is light on the wallet. You will need to reserve a table in advance at Abades’ Samelo Veg who are pioneers on the vegan cheese front, including mozzaVella, their riff on the Italian classic.
Meatless Twists on Fun Favorites
Arona’s Eco Eco Brunch & Café take pride in their Buddha Bowls. Via Orgánica in capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife features fixed faves such as gluten-free pasta with a basil, nutritional yeast, and tomato sauce. Burger Mel’s three Santa Cruz outlets are big Meatless Monday champs.
SOPA Tenerife, a Los Cristianos juice bar, serves soups hot and cold all year round (thanks to our subtropical climate). Back in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, La Ecológica crafts artisan pasta and pizza. They give back to the local community because they employ disadvantaged youths.
In San Cristóbal de La Laguna, the globally-focused Bite the World plays with both ingredients and words. With the likes of Rolling Stone (aubergine spring roll with caramelized onion and guacamole) and Fake Tartare (tomatoes, avocado, red plums, onion, and almonds), this is a menu you will love reading and tasting. Also in La Laguna is Plantae Gastrobarwhere veganism is very much a culinary art. La Orotava houses Eco Casa Verde, a health food/coffee shop whose detox juices purify your body.
Gran Canaria’s Vegan Hotspots
On Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s Smoothie Galaxy hold monthly Vegan Nights. Also in the Las Canteras area is Amelie Green whose windows tell of their commitment to Healthy, Real Food. Another near-beach option is Vegetopía Veg-Away where they shred jackfruit to fill their arepas.
Seafood is one of the staples at Las Canteras restaurants. Yet vegan-friendly options continue to swell in numbers in places such as Avocadisimo Tapas Bar, above surfer spot La Cicer. There, avocado is the most common ingredient. Heading east, El Tiburón Hamburguesería veganizes Italian classics such as lasagne. Continuing orientally, make a slight detour off Paseo las Canteras for Bioloco which welcomes both pets and kids (the latter with a smaller-portion-sized menu).
Join the locals on a seaside stroll. Drop by Pliza 21 for Italian ice-cream with a dairy-free twist. They come prepared with either rice or soya milk and don’t contain any extra additives such as sugar.
Guanarteme is one of the blue-collar barrios above Las Canteras beach. It has been gentrified somewhat. Take a tour of world flavors at Calle de Juan Manuel Gonzalez’s A Raices by traveling to Austria (Hallo, wiener schnitzel), Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Peru without leaving your table.
The two main shopping areas of the Gran Canaria capital are Zona Mesa y López and Zona Triana. One of LP’s major foodie streets is the car-free Ruiz de Alda. Here, Llévame al Huerto places an emphasis on healthy fare. It is a similar story at the just-around-the-corner Mr. Kale 2.0.
The original Mr. Kale is in Calle Cano, one of the avenues and alleyways above Calle Mayor de Triana, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s version of London’s Oxford Street. Triana also finds space for vegan/vegetarian Zoe Food. Then there’s Dara Feeling Food informed by owner Dara Bello O’Shanahan’s Ireland and (Gran Canaria) island roots.
Siete Palmas is a purpose-built barrio. Watch Herbalife Gran Canaria and football’s UD Las Palmas here. Given the number of world-class athletes switching to a plant-based diet, it comes as little surprise to find La Cuchara Sana here. They opened as the island’s first 100% vegan food-to-go establishment, although there are more central LP plant-based options at the likes of Cucharas del Mundo, La Cocotte, whose misleadingly-named papas a lo pobre (Poor Man’s Potatoes) are, in fact, a rich, flavoursome combination of garlic, onion, red pepper, and potato, and La Yeyita.
Close to the airport, Telde was founded by papal bull in the mid-14th century. Then the canarii, the pre-Spanish inhabitants, used to drown missionaries. These days, the locals are more welcoming. This is especially so at Café LaLola, where there is a vegan menu.
Down south, the bonsai Maspalomas amusement park Holiday World’s 20s makeover coincided with the opening of Healthy Be Good. Their raw food includes carrot and zucchini spaghetti with pesto and peanut sauce. Playa del Inglés’ Fusion Restaurant & Loungebar sees head chef/owner David Gibson recreate what he eats on his Asian travels. If in the south-east’s Vecindario, drop by Cucinovagando for their pizzaña (a pizza in form but a lasagne in taste).
Head back in time to the heart of the island. In Artenara, people still live in cave houses just like the canarii. At BioCrepería RiscoCaido, they show that you don’t need to break eggs to make delicious crepes.
Vegan Canary Islands Ingredients
Canarian dishes include papas arrugadas con mojo, fluffy baby spuds cooked in salty boiling water with a piquant sauce. These are easily made in your holiday home (especially if the kitchen has a pestle and mortar). The best spuds to use are Tenerife’s papas negras (black potatoes). Snag these in the island’s markets, including the iconic La Recova.
Gran Canaria’s Firgas, above all, is famed for potaje de berros (watercress stew). For this reason it has a berros festival. While meat sometimes floats on restaurant versions, you can prepare this stew without. We grow everything from avocados to zucchini sold in greengrocers, markets (like the capital’s Mercado de Vegueta), and supermarkets such as Hipercor Siete Palmas and HiperDino.
Finally, there are many organic stores. Indeed, I have Spar Natural and La Zanahoria on my doorstep. All of the islands host farmers’ markets, such as my fave one in La Palma: the Mercadillo del Agricultor de Puntagorda.
This vegan Canary Islands guide is the latest in our Green Life series of articles. Subsequently we will offer future guides to destinations worldwide. So, if there are any places you have in mind, suggest away.