Valencia for the self-catering vegan: Supermarkets, health food chains, and ice cream stalls
This is my second post about my recent visit to Valencia. It's all about the self-catering side of the city, which I hope will be useful to vegan students visiting the city. It's only two hours away by low-cost airline, so should be within the reach of students who have enough budget to travel
For half our time in Valencia, we cooked for ourselves. Apart from the fact I'm a scummy student running on financial vapours, who doesn't like having a nosy around the local supermarkets to find some interesting vegan bargains? So here's my piece about when you're not eating out.
First stop, Valencia's main markets, Mercat Central and Mercat de Colon.
Mercat Central is smack dab in the centre of town, but there's not an awful lot to delay a vegan there. Sure, you can get some fruit and veg, but there's a lot of meat stalls to dodge! There is a cracking beer stall though, so if you're after a fancy brew, it's worth a visit.
Mercat de Colon is a bit more promising. Rather than a lot of stalls selling foodstuffs, like Mercat Central, Mercat de Colon has a collection of cafes, restaurants, and bars. One, Suc de Lluna, does say it offers vegan meals, but we didn't eat there so I can't confirm if they're suitably plant-based and suitably lovely to please the vegan traveller.
There's also a cafe -- on the opposite side of the market facing Suc de Lluna -- that has a little ice cream stall outside offering some vegan options -- we tried the bio vanilla and bio chocolate. I think the vegan ice creams oat-milk based, and there's a handy guide on the wall behind the stall that tells you which options are vegan and what allergens they have (vegan ice cream is indicated by a little broccoli symbol, which pleases me no end).
If you're looking for a supermarket in Valencia, then you'll probably find yourself rocking up to a Consum or a Mercadona.
They're both much of a muchness in vegan terms, but they're good for picking up basics like fruit, veg, and bread (which is well labelled, so it's relatively easy to pick out which are vegan and not vegan) to non-dairy milks.
The also stock readymade usefulnesses like hummus and tabbouleh. Granted, the 'tabbouleh' is tomatoey cous cous with a couple of sultanas masquerading as tabbouleh, but I used to live on it the last time I was a student (many years ago in France) so a taste of the stuff brings me in Proustian rapture. If you're not eating it a method of time travelling to your past life as a languages student, it's still pretty decent.
Here's a typical meal we'd assemble from the local supermarket:
And here's some vegan biscuits we found in the free-from type section in Consum:
There a couple of really good health food chains in Valencia that are worth checking out too, Herbolario Navarro and Ecorgánic Ecomarket. They're both worth a visit, but Herbolario Navarro had the edge for me - the branch on San Vicente is huge and has all sorts of goodies.
Here's the cheerful green frontage of Herbolario Navarro, which has a few branches throughout the city.
Their refrigerated section is particularly impressive - so many exciting vegan meats, pizzas, burgers, tofus, seitans, ready made salads, and so much more. Really, so much more. I could have stayed another week in Valencia just to eat my way through them.
My favourite discovery was a vegan Spanish omelette, made with tofu. I think it cost a bit under €3, and it was really rather delicious. I had half for breakfast for several days, and I'd have been happy to have another half for several more days.
We often visited Herbolario Navarro to gather supplies for picnics, including dips, bread, and whatever other picnic fodder we could find.
For example, we hiked up to the castle in Sagunto, we took some of these meat-less meat balls:
While one day for lunch, we just warmed up these tomato and broccoli empanadas - they're surprisingly good.
This was the only bum note I found from the selection at Herbolario Navarro: a rice and cacao pudding. The texture was fine, the taste wasn't bad, exactly, but the whole experience was a bit watery -- it needed bit more firming up and a bit of a heavier hand with the cacao, and it would have been fine. Not terrible, just not one I'd be rushing back to.