Is the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle becoming more common in France now? France is one of the food paradises in the world, extremely well-known for their spectacular and delicate French cuisine and pastries. But the dishes or pastries are often cooked with meat and dairy ingredients, which is saddening because there are an increasing number of vegetarians/vegans who come to stay and travel in France. However, after living in Paris for one and a half years, I found that being a vegetarian in France is not that difficult or strange anymore. Vegetarianism/veganism has become more common now, making it much easier to find lots of nutritious plant-based ingredients in supermarkets or vegetarian or vegan-friendly meals in restaurants here in France.
Let me start with grocery, I think it takes quite an important part in our daily life. Doing grocery shopping is one of the most enjoyable chores for me, I love walking through aisles in supermarkets and ticking off items that I need on the grocery list. I normally shop at Intermarché or Carrefour, since they’re both close to my flat and they have everything I need. But I can assure you that it’s not just these two supermarkets that have vegetarian aisles, you can find this particular aisle everywhere in France now.
To eat at home, a range of vegan groceries are essential as home has always been the most ideal place to eat, no matter how easy it is to eat at a restaurant. Having a homemade meal is always the healthiest, cheapest and most delicious; nothing can beat the satisfaction of the food you make. Due to the advocacy of vegetarianism/plant-based diets, now there are multiple types of vegan ingredients in supermarkets - not just vegetables or beans. Supermarkets now have at least one aisle of meatless ingredients (eg. tofu, plant-based meats, vegan cheese, plant-based yoghurt, etc); meat substitution ingredients to make all sorts of dishes. Regardless of if you're trying to cook Asian or French dishes, there you will find the ingredients you need. Additionally, for me there’s always some surprise every time I do my grocery; there are always some new vegan products every week.
Of course once in a while, I still enjoy eating out. Due to the pandemic, I haven’t been able to eat out much but before Covid-19, I would always like to have a Saturday brunch, or a nice dinner at an Italian/Asian cuisine restaurant. So far, as a vegetarian, there has not been a problem for me when I eat outside. There’s always some vegetarian options at every restaurant I’ve gone to. A bowl of warm meatless ramen, tofu pad thai full of toppings, vegetarian pizzas, etc, you pick. And due to recent veganism advocacy, even some French cuisine restaurants are providing vegetarians french choices - an initially rare occurrence due to French food’s reliance on meat. In my experience eating outside, especially having brunches at cafés, usually tend to have at least half the menu items vegan-friendly in the form of pancakes, french toasts, burgers, etc. Nowadays, I always struggle with choosing a dish when it comes to ordering because there are so many options! But when it comes to restaurants for lunch or dinner, if you’re having a vegan diet/lifestyle, it can be a bit harder. You will just have to do some research before you’re getting “hangry” on websites and apps such as abillionveg. Although there’s not a lot of vegan restaurants here yet, you can still find some vegan options everywhere you go.
In France, veganism is becoming increasingly common and I can assure all the vegetarians/vegans out there, if you want to travel to or move to France, food will be the last thing you have to worry about. And hopefully one day, it won’t even be a problem everywhere we go because wanting to live a lifestyle that benefits our planet, environment and ourselves shouldn’t be a problem.
Written by Eunice Pang
Edited by Chandni Sacheti