Though many travel to Paris just for its food, the city has a reputation for being notoriously unfriendly to vegetarians and vegans. However, over the past decade, younger generations have increasingly adopted meatless diets, and the Parisian culinary scene has followed suit, providing greater selections for people who forego eating animal products.
In Paname, you'll now find loads of restaurants that cater exclusively to meatless diets, and plenty of non-veg eateries and wine is always vegan.
France's strong cooking tradition combined with its renown as a culinary destination have made its chefs infamously resistant to accommodating anyone with special dietary needs. However, in recent years, more French folk are opting to go veg, forcing eateries to oblige their requests.
The rising cost of meat, as well as the negative impacts of factory farming, have prompted many young people to give up animal products. Cash-strapped youth save money by cutting expensive meats from their diets, and groups like L214 have raised awareness of unsavory practices on factory farms. L214's graphic videos with images of force-fed ducks and botched cow slaughters raised awareness about problems within the farming industry, prompting many to reconsider their diets.
Despite its bad rap, Paris offers a variety of foods that allow vegans and vegetarians to enjoy its world-class dining. Follow these tips to help you eat your way through a day in Paname:
Street food is often prepared on the spot, and most vendors let you customize your order. If you eat cheese, for example, you can easily order a street crepe with cheese only. Furthermore, because you watch your food being prepared, you can ensure that it meets your standards before digging in.
The City of Light is incredibly diverse, so an authentic Parisian meal also includes ethnic food like North-African, Indian, Asian, or Middle Eastern cuisine. Head to Rue de Fauborg for a variety of ethnic eats with loads of veggie options!
If you're headed to a more traditional bistro or brasserie, check their menu before going and see what your choices are. Most places will offer a handful of items for vegetarians and vegans, and you can usually look online to see what they have. If the selection looks bleak, find another place.
If you need a dish amended or another accommodation, be nice when you ask your server. The restaurant generally wants you to have a good experience, and provided your request is reasonable, they'll usually help out if you're kind and apologetic.
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Alain Passard is a French chef who is best known for revolutionizing vegetarian cooking in Paris and around the globe. In the early 2000s, Chef Passard defied French cooking norms and changed the menu of his Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Arpege, to primarily serve vegetarian food after he became a vegetarian himself. According to Chef Passard, he decided to change the focus of his restaurant to vegetarian cuisine since he felt as though he had learned all that he could about meat after years of studying meat-based cuisine. Today, Chef Passard continues to serve primarily vegetarian cuisine at L’Arpege, though he occasionally serves dishes that include chicken or fish, and he has traveled to countries with a strong vegetarian tradition, such as India, to enhance his vegetarian cooking skills. He is also an advocate for sustainable farming, and he sources the majority of his ingredients from farms that he owns and operates.
Although Paris is not the most vegetarian-friendly city, vegetarian specialty and grocery stores have cropped up around the city as vegetarian cuisine has become more popular. The largest and best-known vegetarian and vegan stores in Paris are Naturalia and Un Monde Vegan. Naturalia is a chain of specialty stores that only sell vegan and organic products, including organic produce, vegan baking mixes, and cruelty-free beauty products. Naturalia currently has over 200 locations throughout France and over 10 locations in Paris alone. Un Monde Vegan is another popular vegan supermarket that sells similar goods, and the store is well-known for its vegan cheeses and faux meats. Unlike Naturalia, Un Monde Vegan is not a chain store, and it has one location in the 3rd Arrondissement. In addition to these well-known groceries, you will also find plenty of trendy vegan concept stores like Aujourd’hui Demain, Jay & Joy, Holy Planet, and La Boucherie Végétarienne, which translates to “the vegetarian butcher.”
As vegetarianism and veganism have become more popular among French people, many excellent vegetarian and vegan restaurants have cropped up around Paris in the past decade. The trend began with Alain Passard and Alain Ducasse, two French chefs who made their restaurants vegetarian in order to push their culinary talents. Passard’s L’Arpège and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée thus became the first two major vegetarian restaurants in Paris, and both currently have a three-star Michelin rating.
From there, dozens of vegetarian and vegan restaurants have flourished in Paris. Some, like Le Potager de Charlotte and Le Templier de Montmartre, serve vegan and vegetarian takes on classic French cuisine, whereas others, such as Hank Vegan Burger, serve less traditional fare. You can also find plenty of vegetarian and vegan options in international cuisine. Indian restaurants, such as Mayfair Garden, often have plenty of vegetarian options, and as do Middle Eastern restaurants like L’As du Fallafel.
Although French cuisine has a reputation for being unfriendly to vegetarians, there are plenty of French dishes that are, in fact, vegetarian. Seasonal vegetables such as aubergines, tomatoes, and peppers are often used in French cooking - especially during the summer, and ratatouille - a mix of tender cooked vegetables - is a classic French dish that happens to be vegan. French onion soup, called soupe à l’oignon, can also be made vegetarian if vegetable stock is used. If you eat eggs, then you can enjoy French classics like vegetable quiches and omelettes, and crepes often come in plenty of vegetarian varieties.
In addition to classic French foods, you will also find that Middle Eastern food is quite popular in Paris, and this type of cuisine has plenty of vegetarian options. Falafel is a popular dish that you can find in both restaurants and street stalls, and other common Middle Eastern foods, such as hummus and tabbouleh, are also veggie-friendly.
If you’re a vegetarian looking to enjoy a Parisian brunch, then you’re in luck - there are plenty of restaurants and cafes in Paris that cater exclusively to vegetarians or serve delicious vegetarian dishes. Kitchen in the 3rd Arrondissement is a vegetarian restaurant that serves one of the best vegetarian brunches in Paris. The restaurant is known for its organic breakfast and brunch dishes, and it also offers plenty of vegan options. Le Tricycle is a vegan restaurant in the 10th Arrondissement that has plenty of delicious breakfast options, and Breathe in the 9th Arrondissement offers similar fare. If you prefer to brunch at a cafe, check out Baguette’s Cafe in the 1st Arrondissement. This cafe is not exclusively vegetarian, but it does offer plenty of options for the veggies in your group. Likewise, Paperboy serves traditional American dishes, including vegetarian and vegan options like avocado toast.
Traditional French pastries are often filled with butter and milk, so if you wish to enjoy them without animal products, you will need to visit a vegan specialty bakery. Luckily, in recent years, many vegan patisseries have opened up throughout the city. VG Patisserie is widely considered to be Paris’s best vegan pastry shop since it offers a broad selection of baked goods from croissants with vegan cheese to macarons and brioche. Cloud Cakes is an excellent vegan cafe that offers plenty of vegan pastries, and it also offers a brunch menu on weekends. Comptoir Veggie is a full vegan restaurant, but it also offers pastries such as cakes and pies. Likewise, Wholywood is a vegan breakfast cafe that serves fresh vegan pastries, and Cuppa Cafe is a breakfast restaurant that offers a host of vegan-friendly options. In general, most vegan restaurants in Paris will offer to-go options, including pastries, for Parisian vegans to enjoy.
In a city where everything seems to be soaked in butter, finding vegan groceries can seem like a daunting task. However, as veganism has become more popular in Paris, a good handful of vegan grocery stores have also cropped up throughout the city. Un Monde Vegan is perhaps one of the best-known vegan grocers in Paris. This veritable vegan wonderland has everything from dairy- and egg-free pastries to vegan cheese. Likewise, Naturalia offers a massive selection of vegan products, but not all products in the store are vegan. You can also go to specialty shops for wider selections of certain vegan goods. Jay & Joy, for example, is a specialty shop dedicated to selling vegan dairy products, such as creams and yogurts. Likewise, La boucherie végétarienne is a ‘vegetarian butcher’ that offers high-quality meat substitutes to customers. However, this store is not entirely vegan, so you should ensure that your desired product is entirely vegan prior to buying.
Just a short time ago, a French vegetarian was practically unheard of, and vegetarianism still is not particularly popular in France. However, in the past decade, the movement has gained steam – particularly among young French people. This shift has occurred for three main reasons: health and nutrition, budgeting, and increased awareness of animal rights. Many French people who choose to eat vegetarian do so in order to improve their diets. Meat-heavy diets have been linked to a wide array of negative health impacts, so some choose to improve their habits by giving meat up altogether. Additionally, some French people go vegetarian in order to save money. Meat can get expensive – especially if you’re a young person on a budget, so foregoing it can be a great way to save money on food. Finally, French people have become more aware of animal rights, and France has received a degree of negative attention for how animals are treated in the name of making traditional dishes like foie gras. Young people have been receptive to this argument, and more are choosing to go vegetarian as a moral stance.