Vegan and Vegetarian Vocabulary in Spanish
For vegetarians and vegans visiting a Spanish-speaking country, discussing your dietary restrictions in restaurants and with friends can be challenging. If you are a vegetarian or vegan who’s learning Spanish, you know what I’m talking about!
If you need help explaining your food-related preferences, lettuce help you! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun).
After reading this post, you’ll easily express your dietary restrictions in Spanish in different places and circumstances. So keep reading and discover the vegan and vegetarian world in this language!
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Vegan and Vegetarian Basic Terms
First things first: what does being a vegetarian or a vegan mean?
A vegetarian diet emphasizes plant foods and avoids all types of meat: beef, chicken, pork, fish, and other seafood. However, they may consume other animal products, such as eggs, dairy, or honey.
On the other hand, a vegan does not eat or use any types of animal products, excluding eggs, dairy, and honey from their diet. Vegans also avoid animal-derived items like leather, fur, or feathers to avoid supporting any form of animal exploitation for any purpose.
There are subgroups, according to the foods their diets contain and exclude. For example:
- A raw vegan eats uncooked vegan food.
- A lacto-ovo-vegetarian eats eggs and dairy, but not fish.
- A pescetarian eats fish and other seafood, but not the flesh of other animals.
So, as you can see, vegetarians’ and vegans’ diets vary in strictness.
Vegetarianism and Veganism in Latin America
Latin America has been experiencing changes in people’s consumption habits in the last decade. According to a 2016 survey of over 30,000 respondents from Mexico, 19% assured to be vegetarians, and 9% self-identified as vegans. The regional average for vegetarians in Latin America was 8%.
Aside from Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia are the countries with the region’s highest vegan and vegetarian populations.
Thanks to the rising popularity of vegan and vegetarian options, it has become easier to travel through Spanish-speaking countries without compromising food-related preferences.
Making Yourself Understood in Spanish as a Vegetarian or a Vegan
You can find delicious vegan or vegetarian meals across the region! The trick is to know the Spanish vocabulary for finding and ordering meat-free, dairy-free, and whole-food varieties of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
How to Explain Why You’re a Vegan or Vegetarian in Spanish
As a vegan or vegetarian, I’m sure you know people are naturally curious, and many ask you, “Why?”. Well, in Spanish-speaking countries, this is no different, and you might be asked the following questions:
¿Por qué eres vegetariano/a?
Why are you a vegetarian?
¿Por qué eres vegano/a?
Why are you a vegan?
Now, how do you explain your food preferences and restrictions? Let’s go over some of the most common reasons why people become vegetarians or vegans, with their respective Spanish translations…
You can also read 100+ Basic Spanish Phrases: Fluency From Scratch
1. For the Animals and Their Rights
Avoiding animal products is one of the main ways to take a stand against animal cruelty and exploitation. If this is your case, you can say some of the phrases listed below:
Hay muchos libros, videos e imágenes sobre el trato horrible que se les da a los animales en las granjas industriales.
There are many books, videos, and images about the horrible treatment of animals on factory farms.
Los animales nacieron para ser libres y hacer con sus vidas lo que crean conveniente.
Animals were born to be free and to do what they see fit in their lives.
No me considero con el derecho a encerrar a un animal ni usarlo para obtener un beneficio, y mucho menos a quitarle la vida.
I do not consider myself to have the right to lock up an animal or use it for my benefit, much less to take its life.
Dar refugio y convivir con los animales; eso resuena más conmigo.
To give refuge and live together with animals resonates more with me.
Todos los seres vivos temen a la muerte, al igual que los humanos. No importa cómo los tratan cuando están vivos.
All living creatures fear death, just as humans do. No matter how they are treated when alive.
2. For Health-Related Reasons
For a person who decided to go vegan or vegetarian to improve their diet and thus their physical health, some ways to explain this in Spanish are:
La carne causa varios problemas a nivel de salud física.
Meat causes various physical health problems.
Varios estudios concluyen que la carne procesada aumenta el riesgo de enfermedades cardiovasculares y diabetes.
For example, multiple studies conclude that processed meat increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
En 2015, la OMS declaró carcinógenas a la carne roja, las salchichas y la carne procesada.
In 2015, the WHO declared red meat, sausage, and processed meat carcinogens.
Si la carne no es orgánica, puede contener hormonas y antibióticos que se administran a los animales en las granjas para prevenir infecciones o estimular el engorde.
If meat is not organic, it can contain hormones and antibiotics given to farm animals to prevent infection or stimulate fattening.
El estrés que sufre un animal cuando es sacrificado queda impregnado en su carne.
An animal’s stress when it is slaughtered remains impregnated in its meat.
3. For the Environment
One of the most effective actions an individual can do to live a greener life and lower their carbon footprint is avoiding all animal-derived products. Is this what you’re thinking? Use some of these phrases:
El consumo de carne no sólo afecta a la salud de las personas sino también la del medio ambiente.
The consumption of meat affects people’s health and the environment.
En general, la producción de 1 kg de proteína animal requiere de aproximadamente 100 veces más agua que 1 kg de proteína vegetal.
Generally, 1 kg of animal protein production requires approximately 100 times more water than 1 kg of vegetable protein.
La alta producción de ganadería contamina los suelos y las aguas subterráneas debido a la elevada concentración de excrementos y residuos farmacológicos.
The high livestock production pollutes the soil and groundwater due to the high concentration of excrement and drug residues.
El 70% del terreno agrícola del planeta se destina a la alimentación y crianza de ganado.
70% of the agricultural land on the planet is used for feeding and raising livestock animals.
La cantidad de cereales necesarios para la producción de carne contribuye a la deforestación, la pérdida de hábitats y la extinción de especies.
The amount of grain feed required for meat production contributes to deforestation, habitat loss, and species extinction.
4. For People
Environmental and socio-economic problems, like global food and water insecurity, have caused people to seek more sustainable ways of living. To explain this, you can say:
Una alimentación basada en plantas es una forma más sostenible de alimentar a las familias humanas.
A plant-based diet is a more sustainable way of feeding human families.
Una dieta basada en plantas requiere solo un tercio de la tierra necesaria para mantener una dieta de carne y lácteos.
A plant-based diet requires only one-third of the land needed to support a meat and dairy diet.
Evitar los productos de origen animal es la mejor manera de tomar una posición contra los sistemas alimentarios ineficientes que afectan a las personas más pobres.
Avoiding animal products is the best way to take a stand against inefficient food systems affecting the poorest people.
Spanish Vegan and Vegetarian Vocabulary and Phrases
So now that you have already found a way to explain your food preferences, you might want to learn some words in Spanish you can use as a vegan or vegetarian. Maybe you wish to know how to ask for veg dishes or plant-based types of milk? Soy no more! (See what I did there?)
I have classified the terms you can use to find exactly what you are looking for. Check them out!
Vegetariano/a – Vegetarian
Vegano/a – Vegan
Crudivegano/a – Raw vegan
Lacto-ovo-vegetariano/a – Lacto-ovo-vegetarian
Pescetariano/a – Pescatarian
La comida – Food
El desayuno – Breakfast
El almuerzo – Lunch
La cena – Dinner
La bebida – Drink
La nutrición, la alimentación – Nutrition
I am a vegetarian.
We are vegetarians.
I am a vegan.
We are vegans.
I am a raw vegan.
We are raw vegans.
I am a lacto-ovo-vegetarian.
We are lacto-ovo-vegetarians.
I am a pescatarian.
We are pescatarians.
I eat _____.
For example: Como lacteos. – I eat dairy.
No como _____.
I do not eat _____.
For example: No como carne. – I don’t eat meat.
Attention: In Spanish, pollo (chicken) is not considered carne (meat). No como carne means that you don’t eat beef or pork. I recommend you simply tell the waiter that you’re vegetariano/a (vegetarian).
No como crema ni mantequilla.
I don’t eat cream or butter.
Are you planning to travel to Latin America? You may also want to read this article.
Fruits and Veggies
La naranja – Orange
La manzana – Apple
El limón – Lime, lemon
La piña – Pineapple
El banano – Banana
Las bayas – Berries
El tomate – Tomato
La cebolla – Onion
La papa – Potato
La lechuga – Lettuce
La zanahoria – Carrot
Los ejotes / las judías – Green beans
El camote – Sweet potato
La fruta – Fruit
La avena – Oatmeal
El pan integral – Whole wheat bread
El pan tostado – Toast
El yogur – Yogurt
El tofu – Tofu
Los frijoles – Beans
El agua – Water
El agua con gas – Sparkling water
El jugo – Juice
El café – Coffee
El té – Tea
El licuado – Smoothie
La leche de soya – Soy milk
La leche de almendra – Almond milk
La leche de coco – Coconut milk
La leche de arroz – Rice milk
La leche de vaca – Cow milk
Condiments and Spices
El azúcar – Sugar
La miel – Honey
El aceite – Oil
El aceite de oliva – Olive oil
El vinagre – Vinegar
La sal – Salt
La pimienta – Pepper
La salsa picante – Hot sauce
La mayonesa – Mayonnaise
La mostaza – Mustard
La salsa de tomate – Ketchup
Los frutos secos – Nuts
El maní – Peanut
El almendra – Almond
El pistacho – Pistachio
Las nueces de macadamia – Macadamia nuts
El marañón – Cashew
La avellana – Hazelnut
El piñón – Pine nut
La pepitoria – Pumpkin seed
Las nueces de Brasil – Brazil nuts
If you want to ask for any nut butter, say “mantequilla de ____” (fill in the blank with your preferred nut). For example, peanut butter means “la mantequilla de maní.”
Las hierbas – Herbs
La albahaca – Basil
El cilantro – Coriander
El romero – Rosemary
El tomillo – Thyme
El orégano – Oregano
El perejil – Parsley
La menta – Mint
El jengibre – Ginger
El laurel – Bay leaf
El pericón – St. John’s Wort
El limoncillo – Lemongrass
El cebollín – Chives
Al vapor – Steamed
Ligeramente cocido – Lightly cooked
A la parrilla – Grilled
Horneado – Baked
Frito/a – Fried
Recién exprimido/a – Freshly squeezed
Fresco/a – Fresh
Crudo/a – Not cooked, raw
Fermentado/a – Fermented
Seco – Dry
There are several dairy-free kinds of cheese you can ask for and taste!
Queso parmesano vegano rallado – Grated parmesan cheese
Queso mozzarella vegano – Vegan mozzarella cheese
Queso Halloumi vegano – Vegan Halloumi
Queso cheddar vegano – Vegan cheddar cheese
Queso vegano ahumado – Smoked vegan cheese
Queso de semillas de girasol – Sunflower seed cheese
If you want to ask for any cheese made from soy, coconut, almond, or cashew milk, say “queso de ____” (fill in the blank with your preferred nut or plant). For example, cashew cheese means “queso de marañón.”
Useful Phrases for Restaurants
It is time to introduce you to phrases to use as a vegan or vegetarian in a restaurant. This will increase your chances of getting the best recommendations to find a restaurant that best fits your needs and desires!
¿Conoces algún restaurante vegetariano?
Do you know of any vegetarian restaurants?
¿Sabes dónde puedo encontrar comida vegana?
Do you know where I can find vegan food?
¿Puedes recomendarme un restaurante vegetariano?
Can you recommend a vegetarian restaurant?
¿Conoces algún restaurante con buenas opciones veganas/vegetarianas?
Do you know any restaurant with good vegan/vegetarian options?
Now that you’ve found a restaurant, you can use the following phrases to order exactly what you want and exclude what you don’t want.
¿Tiene comida vegetariana?
Do you have vegetarian food?
¿Tiene opciones veganas?
Do you have vegan options?
Me gustaría algo sin carne.
I would like something without meat.
¿Puedo tener este plato sin carne, por favor?
Can I please have this dish without meat?
Quisiera este plato sin queso, por favor.
I would like this plate without cheese, please.
Is there cheese in it?
Is there meat in it?
Is there dairy in it?
Are there eggs in it?
Soy alérgica/alérgico a ________.
I am allergic to __________.
Here’s a list of things you don’t want to eat. Feel free to use it as you need.
La carne – Meat
Los huevos – Eggs
Los lácteos – Dairy
El queso – Cheese
La leche – Milk
La mantequilla – Butter
La crema – Cream
El pollo – Chicken
El puerco – Pork
El tocino – Bacon
El pescado – Fish
Los mariscos – Seafood
El jamón – Ham
La salchicha – Sausage
Vegan Dishes From Spanish-Speaking Countries
If you’re planning to visit any Spanish-speaking country, you will need some vegetarian or vegan-friendly snacks and food. You’re in luck. Latin America provides a wide range of options!
Mexico: If you are a vegetarian, you can try quesadillas or tortilla soup. Go for frijoles (refried beans) if you are a vegan.
Chile: Enjoy vegan empanadas, porontas granados (bean stew), or a quinoa salad; all vegan-friendly.
Peru: Have vegetarian arroz tapado (mushrooms on a bed of rice combined with vegetables) or avocado risotto.
Brazil: Try tutu com feijão (mashed beans with manioc flour) or pão de queijo (savoury cheese buns), as vegetarian options.
Colombia: Eat some arepas (fried cheese and corn patties) if you want a traditional vegetarian dish.
Guatemala: Enjoy picado de rábano, a vegan option. Just be sure it does not have chicharron or any pork parts.
Uruguay: Try pascualina, a savory pie with spinach and egg (vegetarian option).
Paraguay: Have chipa guasu, a cake made with corn grains, cream cheese, and eggs (vegetarian option).
Ecuador: potato soup with cheese and avocado (vegetarian option).
Don’t forget to read “15 Mouth-Watering National Dishes of Latin America”
Vegan or Vegetarian, Go and Show Your Food Preferences in Spanish!
As a vegan or vegetarian, you now have all the words and phrases to make yourself understood in Spanish-speaking countries.
So whether you are explaining why you are a vegan or vegetarian or ordering your food at a restaurant, you can feel relaxed and stay true to your preferences and beliefs. It doesn’t have to be so tofu! (Okay, I’ll stop).
Do you have any more helpful words in Spanish for vegans and vegetarians? What Latin American vegan/vegetarian dishes have you tried?
Tell us in the comments and help other travelers who share your preferences!
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