In the run-up to World Vegan Day, we thought we’d broach the subject dreaded by all of you out there with a plant-based diet. The moment when you have to tell someone “I’m vegetarian” or “I’m vegan” when you don’t speak the language…
It’s there, on the menu. There’s nothing suspicious about it. It has an appetising name in Spanish: bocadillo vegetal (vegetable sandwich).
You’re starving, and can’t wait for that first bite. Finally, the waiter shouts “¡vegetal!” (vegetable, referring to the sandwich). Your sandwich is here… and it has tuna in it.
Why? Because in Spain bocadillos vegetales, despite what the name suggests, often come filled with tuna.
Communicating that you’re vegetarian or vegan in another language can be tricky, especially when the name of a dish suggests there are no animal products in it.
But fellow veggies/vegans, don’t worry! As someone who has been a vegetarian for more than 20 years and comes from jamónland (aka Salamanca), there are definitely ways to make it clear that you’re vegetarian or vegan when speaking other languages.
A few key survival phrases under your belt (or written down in your notebook!) can go a long way.
Here’s how to say you’re vegetarian or vegan in different languages:
How to say you’re vegan or vegetarian in Spanish
Let’s start with the language I know best.
- Soy vegetariana / vegana (I’m vegetarian / vegan for female speakers), or soy vegetariano / vegano (I’m vegetarian / vegan for male speakers).
- ¿Tiene algo vegetariano / vegano en el menú? (Do you have any vegetarian options on the menu?
- No como carne, ni pescado. (I don’t eat meat or fish). You can add to the list ni jamón, ni atún (neither ham, nor tuna), just to avoid any ham or tuna ambiguities…
How to say you’re vegan or vegetarian in Italian
If you go to any Mediterranean country, the most common veggie option will be pasta. So you’re in luck: in Italy opens up a world of deliciousness for you. There are so many varieties of pasta to make your taste buds shout, è buonissimo! (it’s delicious!) from the rooftops.
Here’s how to say you’re vegetarian vegan in Italian:
- Sono vegetariano / vegano (I’m vegetarian / vegan for male speakers), or Sono vegetariana/ vegana (I’m vegetarian / vegan for female speakers).
- Avete piatti vegetariani / vegani nel menù? (Do you have any vegetarian / vegan dishes on the menu?)
How to say you’re vegan or vegetarian in Portuguese (Brazil)
If you’re ever travelling through Brazil, try pão de queijo for breakfast and add all the fresh fruit you can imagine alongside it.
Or, if you happen to go to any of the typical por kilo restaurants (where your plate is priced by the kilo), learn how to check their vegetarian and vegan options with these essential phrases:
- Eu sou vegetariano / vegano (I’m vegetarian / vegan for male speakers), or Eu sou vegetariana / vegana (I’m vegetarian / vegan for female speakers).
- Você tem alguma opção vegetariana / vegana no cardápio? (Do you have any vegetarian / vegan options on the menu?)
How to say you’re vegan or vegetarian in French
France may be the land of cheese and butter, but mes amis vegans – my vegan friends – I’ve got your back.
- Je suis végétarien / vegan (I’m vegetarian / vegan for male speakers), or Je suis végétarienne / vegan (I’m vegetarian for female speakers).
- Vous avez des plats vegans / végétariens? (Do you have any vegan/vegetarian dishes?)
Now that you know how to ask for vegetarian and vegan dishes in four different languages, why not travel, explore and enjoy local vegetarian and vegan food? There are so many delicious options on offer!
Go beyond “I’m vegan” and start learning a language with Busuu today.