Do you feel like everyone you know is making a trip to Iceland? Iceland is definitely experiencing a boom in their tourism sector, and for good reason. When I first met Danny, he had a trip to Iceland planned. He invited me along in passing, and sent over his flight itinerary. WOW Air has SUCH amazing offers to fly directly into Reykjavik – how could I say no? I booked my flight. (And the rest is history)
Fast forward to September, and we were boarding the plane headed for Reykjavik. I had anticipated that eating vegan in Iceland would be tough, as I had read blogs and seen posts about the Icelandic diet which consists of dairy and meat. Icelandic climate was not really made for the ability to grow vegetables and fruit, and the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables is steep. I had done my research and knew to shop at Budget, which is a comparable grocery chain to Aldi. I had anticipated the need for snacks so prior to the trip I had purchased 2 boxes of GoMacro bars, Go Green Nuzest bars and a large tub of PB2 that I had packed up in our checked bags.
I was grateful for the forethought to pack snacks because we rented a car and were traveling a lot on the highway in the countryside of Iceland, and there were few food options. Also, food in Iceland is fucking expensive. If you are on any kind of budget, food is where you will need to be the most frugal. Shopping at Budget is definitely my recommendation especially if you are staying at an Airbnb or a hostel that has access to a kitchen. My other suggestion would be to absolutely take advantage of your duty free allowance on alcohol. Other than that, though, there was really no reason at all for me to be concerned with food options as a vegan in Iceland. The Icelandic word for vegan is vegan – so just tell your wait staff that you need your option to be vegan. They will let you know if it is possible, or not.
Below, I am going to share restaurants that we visited and tips for traveling Iceland as a vegan.
Bonus (grocery store) – Here you will find all of the usual food and pantry items as any other grocery chain. I would recommend pasta, red sauce sauce, the vegan beef crumbles, vegan jelly, oatmeal, frozen veggies and couscous. Be careful with the breads – I had to google Icelandic word for milk (mjólk). You can also find soy yogurt in the refrigerated section.
Gló (restaurant) – Pictured above, this is an awesome spot for vegan options, we ate here twice at two different locations. They have a great lunch special where you can get an option with 3 of their salad sides. The lasagna is amazing!
Nordic Restaurant in Seyðisfjordur in the Eastern fjords – a few restaurants had closed for the off-season in Seyðisfjordur already but thankfully Nordic had a delicious in-house beet veggie patty and some falafel with fresh greens. They even have vegan avocado mouse on their summer menu – we were sad we missed it!
Havarí (restaurant and music venue) - Awesome spot off the beaten path. They started as an organic farm and quickly transformed one of the barns into an eatery and music venue. They host music festivals in the summertime, and have a friendly and adorable dog. They make their own vegan sausages which I would highly recommend trying and even buying to take with you on your journey. Very simple menu with lots of root vegetables, obviously, but very delicious. Great coffee, too!
Vínyl Kaffi (restaurant) – the one and only 100% vegan restaurant in Iceland. Amazing atmosphere, very fun on a weekend. They have a DJ spinning vinyl and amazing food, beer and dessert options. We both got sandwiches, very delicious and really big portions. A bit on the expensive side, but so if every restaurant in Iceland.
Gott (restaurant) – We took a day trip to the Westman Islands which I would highly recommend to make time for! We went to a restaurant and just asked for one of their menu options as “vegan”. They changed it up for us and it was healthy and delicious. A lot of breads in Iceland are not vegan, so most vegetarian options will have to lose the bun or bread. In this case, we got the veggie burgers and they did away with the bun but added steamed sweet potatoes and rice.
Íslenska Flatbakan (restaurant) – BEHOLD! The first time I have been able to have cheese bread sticks since I have gone vegan. This is a small chain pizza restaurant that serve up craft pizzas and beer. Danny and I both would absolutely recommend you stop in, especially if you are a pizza lover. They have 4 vegan options to choose from, as well as the vegan cheese sticks. They have a pretty decent selection of beer as well. We still dream about this place.
Passion Reykjavík (bakery and coffee shop) - I don't have any photos from the inside of Passion, but take my word for it that it is worth stopping by if you have a sweet tooth. They have a small selection of vegan pastries but I would highly suggest that you stop in to sample one of each. It was quite busy with locals stopping in for their morning pastry and coffee, but the wait time was not bad. It is decorated quite elegantly and the pastries speak for themselves.
- There are cookies in the gas station that say “Veganesti” these are NOT vegan. I learned this from another traveling vegan who made the mistake of assuming.
- A more expensive grocery chain, Nettó, is an excellent vegan resource. We found endless amounts of vegan options.
- Really take advantage of Bonus, there are lots of frozen food options but plenty of staple pantry items that are simple and easy to cook up. They have a health section which even includes nutritional yeast. Don’t be afraid to look around and take time looking through ingredient lists.
- If you will be cooking, pack a couple of Tupperware with you in your checked bag or carry on. We had to get really creative with our leftover food storage.
Travel with confidence knowing that there are plentiful amounts of options for you as a vegan in Iceland. Look for my next blog post about Iceland where I will discuss the sights we saw, the route we took and all of our itinerary suggestions for your next trip!