Special Guest Post
I am super excited to hand over to a couple of my closest friends for a special guest post this week. Claire and John are both vegan and Claire has the added challenge of being allergic to nuts, dairy and eggs! They recently visited Croatia and had such an awesome time out there. This post is about how they managed out there as vegans, showing both the good and the bad. I hope you enjoy it!
C: Everything we read about Croatian food before travelling there talked about how much meat they eat, so we were a little concerned about how we would get on. However, we found it to be mostly very veggie-friendly, and discovered some exciting new stuff too 🙂
J: Our 2017 trip to Croatia coincided with my two year vegan anniversary. I’ll spare you the self-indulgent origin story, except to say that I cried at my desk the day I watched the documentary Earthlings (click on the link to watch).
WARNING: graphic content, viewer discretion advised.
Since then, I have been strictly vegan almost unwaveringly. I live in London and as such, I’m never more than 10 feet away from a Tofurkey wrap or a falafel mezze. This made the transition to a plant-based diet a lot easier than I had originally anticipated.
I became vegan almost overnight with the exception that, initially, I really struggled with eating abroad. My first “post-earthlings” holiday was to Trogir in Croatia and I muddled through it, frequently opting for the vegetarian option despite my growing discomfort with consuming dairy and eggs.
Arriving in Dubrovnik this year was different. I wasn’t messing around. “Could I have the vegetarian pizza please, with no cheese”. Two years makes a lot of difference. No vegan options on the menu doesn’t mean there aren’t any vegan options. I’ve played this game before and thankfully, I’m starting to feel comfortable ordering off-menu.
Fortunately though, eating vegan in Dubrovnik is not all about “making do” with doctored menus. The old town is home to Nishta, a quirky vegetarian/vegan restaurant tucked into a busy, cobbled backstreet. It was love at first sight, and offered all of the comforts you might expect from a vegan cafe back home. We feasted on seitan burritos, tofu burgers and nachos loaded with vegan cheese and jalapenos. The place is amazing and is veggie heaven for those evenings when you don’t feel like self-catering. If you’re going here, make sure to call ahead because it gets packed!
C: Next stop was Split. Here we discovered Bio & Bio, an organic food shop with loads of lovely stuff, including vegan chorizo (amazing!), and rice milk choc ices 😀 There were a couple of veggie restaurants too, including Vege, a vegan fast-food place, and Makro Vega, which had veggie and vegan options.
J: Whilst staying in Split, we also re-visited my old carnivorous nemesis: Trogir. As it was lunch-time when we arrived, Trogir quickly fell victim to the trusty “cheeseless pizza” trick. The pizza at “Mirkec” pizzeria was divine, and was even better when washed down with a couple of ice-cold Corona. The food and drinks were great value and the service was warm and friendly. You can sit at the front overlooking the vibrant harbour, or relax in the shade of a pretty side-street. If you’re in need of a vitamin boost, you’ll find countless stalls in Trogir offering freshly squeezed juices and smoothies. Also, some of the ice-cream parlours offer vegan ice-creams and sorbets. If you’re only in Trogir for a short time, you should find plenty to keep you going!
C: After being spoiled by lots of vegan ice cream in Split, we travelled to Plitvice Lakes National Park, where it was somewhat more challenging to find plant-based options. A quick search of Happy Cow told us that the nearest veggie restaurant was 100km away, and the local pizzeria used milk in their pizza bases 😦 we ate a lot of bread and jam!
J: Yes, as Claire says – eating in Plitvice national park proved challenging! We had arranged to spend three nights in the wooden bungalows at Korana camping ground. The campsite was well-maintained and ideally situated for exploring the surrounding countryside. The issue was that there were no cooking facilities in the bungalows. There was a restaurant on-site, but it didn’t offer any vegan options and the small convenience store only carried a very limited supply of fruits and vegetables. All of this was “as-advertised” – we simply had not thought it through! I’m sure we could have improved our situation if only we’d had the foresight to bring a portable stove and/or barbecue. Regrettably, we didn’t bring those things and instead subsisted on bread, fruit and crisps. On one of the days I shared a crisp-sandwich with a duck. The duck bit me. It was not my favourite day of being vegan.
J: Fortunately, the last stop of our Croatian mini-tour was Zagreb. Zagreb did not disappoint. We were only in this beautiful, friendly city for a single day, but here we found the jewel in Croatia’s vegan crown: “Green Point”, an all-vegan fast food restaurant. This place serves up amazing burgers and wraps as well as falafel, curry and soup. The food is delicious and amazing value for money (I had a tofu cheeseburger with fries and a soft drink for less than a fiver!.) Additionally, the staff were upbeat and friendly – I cannot recommend Green Point enough. We also discovered another branch of Bio&Bio at Zagreb, which gave us a second opportunity to nonchalantly walk down the street eating vegan ice cream (a treat that is rare even back home in London!)
C: Yes, Zagreb was wonderful, and had a fab choice for herbivores! The tofu cheeseburger at Green Point was by far the food highlight of the trip!
J: In summary I’d say that, like much of Europe, Croatia seems to be reluctantly and sleepily embracing veganism. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan travelling to Dalmatia, you’ll find plenty to eat with a little effort. There are obvious challenges presented by travelling vegan, but for me at least, not contributing to the suffering of animals will always be worth sacrificing a little convenience… and man, that tofu cheeseburger was totally worth the wait.