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A young women have a white cup of coffee with curly hair posing for the camera; Rated V Food: Vegan Foodie Shares Three Favorite Cities in Spain | Eunice Reyes | Ep 87

Rated V Food: Vegan Foodie Shares Three Favorite Cities in Spain | Eunice Reyes | Ep 87

Introducing Eunice

In today’s episode, we’ll be talking to Eunice Reyes from Rated V Food. An American from Portland is an epic vegan foodie and traveler and shares her experiences on her YouTube channel. Long-term listeners might have heard an episode I did with Eunice before which was on Armchair Travel during the height of the pandemic.

Eunice is fantastic and I was lucky enough to meet her in her native Portland, and I can confirm is just as fun, bubbly, and passionate about travel and vegan food as she is in her YouTube videos.

Eunice is going to be sharing a little about her experiences in Spain and sharing her accidentally vegan foods in different regions of Spain and her three ‘off-the-beaten-track’ Spanish cities you might like to check out.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Her Ebook – The Ultimate Vegan Guide to Spain
  • Her experience in Spain
  • Vegan Restaurants vs non-vegan restaurants
  • Accidently vegan food you should be able to get at most restaurants

Learn more about what we talk about

Other World Vegan Travel content connected with this episode

Connect with Eunice

Transcript

Brighde: Hi, Eunice. Thank you so much for joining me on the World Vegan Travel Podcast again. 
Eunice: Yes. Thank you for having me again.
Brighde: Yeah. So I’m really happy to have you on the podcast because you have just come out of an incredibly big project which relates to vegan travel. Before we get into that, would you mind telling our listeners a little bit about who you are and what you do in the vegan travel space? 
Eunice: Yes. My name is Eunice. A lot of people might know me though as Ratedvfood on Instagram or RatedV on YouTube. So I’ve created a YouTube channel that highlights vegan food in different cities in the US and around the world. Cuz, in a nutshell, I’m a huge vegan foodie and travel addict.
I just love traveling and I love eating. I love learning about food, everything, all about it. Embracing different cultures, all of it. Essentially I created that channel because before I became plant-based, I used to watch all the food and travel shows out there, even food, YouTubers, and everything. Like I love just watching them talk about food, talk about different cities, talk about different cultures or different dishes. Then I became plant-based and then I was like I can’t eat any of the food in there anymore. I would still watch them cuz they’re entertaining.
But I was like, I can’t eat any of this. I was just like, how come no one’s doing something like this? Then I was like, You know what? I’m gonna try this. I love eating. I love traveling. Let’s just give it a shot. Right? So that’s how RatedV was born. So my very first videos are mostly in Seattle.
 After that, I had the privilege of moving to Spain for a couple of years to do a teaching English program. That’s why I focused a lot of my content also on Spain. A lot of my travel videos are like, where to eat in Madrid and Valencia or Barcelona, 48 hours, 72 hours in each one. or like 48 hours in Cardoba, just to show how vegan-friendly Spain is because a lot of people think it’s not. Even I was shocked at how vegan-friendly it was, like since the last time I hadn’t visited. So it’s. Changing. It’s quite amazing. That’s why, I created the Ultimate Vegan Guide to Spain, which highlights 13 different cities in Spain and all the vegan food that I tried and have vetted myself at the places.
Just travel tips in general that I think are worth checking.
Brighde: Fantastic. I’ve had the honor of being able to have a look at this book, and it is incredibly comprehensive. You dug deep to get all of the information out there. It’s much more of a rich resource than, Happy Cow is, for example. Happy Cow is great.
 This comes from a particular person’s perspective, a vegan foodie like yourself, and all of your recommendations. You live there for two years, so it’s more than just one person visiting one restaurant. You are also a fluent Spanish speaker, right? 
Eunice: Yeah, it was a big project. It was like one of those things where I was like, Oh my gosh, this is never gonna end. I thought of all the things that I would want someone to have a seamless experience because, when I was in Spain, there were times when I would be walking around and be like, Man, I wish someone could just give me a list and tell me where to go and try this, and this.
Because doing the research takes a lot of time. Like I was going through Instagram accounts, blogs, Google, and everything searching through it. Just because sometimes I don’t like looking at just the tough results on what Google gives you because they only give you, it’s all an algorithm, right?
That ranks certain things, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what you should be trying or, I’m sure it’s good, but it’s like you’re looking for something more specific, right? I wrote it in a way where I want people to feel like I’m telling them if I were having dinner with them and be like, Oh my gosh.
So when I went to this restaurant, this is what I had and I loved it because of this, and this. So it’s very, my writing style in that book is very personal just because, a that’s the kind of way I write too. 
Brighde: I would agree with that. Not only is it full of useful information, but it’s also very beautifully laid out and it’s full of original color photographs as well. It’s a digital book, isn’t it? So that people can download it and have it on their device, or I guess they could print it out if they wanted to, but it is such a beautiful book.
So congratulations on finishing that off. I know that must have been quite difficult.
Eunice: Thank you it was, and yeah, it’s going off the digital, like the reason I wanted it to be digital is that I do want someone to have it on their phone or their tablet at all times because there are so many hyperlinks in that book, which makes it even more convenient for travelers. So it’s Oh, this restaurant looks cool.
Let me look up their Instagram, click, Oh, I can look up their Instagram profile, or where is it on the map? Click. It takes me directly to the directions of the map of where to find it. So I wanted to make it very travel-friendly.
Brighde: It is. Okay. People that listen to this podcast regularly, might know that we have had a few podcast episodes about Spain before. I am thinking back to one of the early ones with Madrid Vegan Tours and we have a few in the south of Spain as well, specifically with Finca Vegana and a few others.
 We are gonna talk a little bit about Spain generally, and then maybe focus on some different cities and places and regions of Spain. You came to Spain this most recent time as a vegan. Would you say that Spain is a particularly vegan-friendly place to travel to? It has a stereotype it is not, but that’s a stereotype. So is that an accurate stereotype?
Eunice: In Spain, it’s still a very meat-centered culture. However, I would say it’s so vegan-friendly. It’s amazing. Just to give an example, Heura is this vegan-like chicken brand that’s come out of spade space in Barcelona. They are making waves of change in that. They’ve expanded into different other countries in Europe as well. They’re now into chain restaurants in Spain like they are making strides and they’re honestly amazing. I had the opportunity and honor to meet the CEO and one of their other Marketing managers as well.
They’re the nicest people. They’re so cool. Like they’re passionate about what they’re doing. The fact that businesses like that are emerging in Spain, like that, just shows where the mindset is going, and I used to see billboards at the bus stops of the new vegan Burger King or Veggie Burger King sandwich or vegan pizza or something.
I used to be like, Whoa, I don’t even see a bus stop or billboards like that in the states. think that after going there, now I have a completely different perspective, I remember the first time I went on vacation in Valencia, it was in 2017.
We were walking by somewhere and I wasn’t even vegetarian at the time. We walked by this one vegan restaurant and I remember telling my cousin, Cause we liked Vegan food, we just weren’t vegan, right? So we’re like, Oh my gosh, it would suck to be vegan in this city.
Could you imagine? Like you would have nothing to eat? And then fast forward five years later, I’m living there, or a couple of years later I’m living there and I’m now vegan. By then I had seen so many different options, so it was cool. It’s changed a lot, there are a lot of vegan-friendly restaurants or fully vegan restaurants, and a lot of bars and cafes tend to have plant-based milk options as well, so that’s cool to see. Mainstream grocery stores like Mercadona, Consum, and Lidl have tons of vegan products in their stores now, which is cool.
Brighde: That’s amazing. So the question I have is there are lots and lots of vegan restaurants in Spain now, more and more every year, I’m sure. Of course the supermarkets as well. I guess I’m wondering, are non-vegan restaurants starting to add more? One or two vegan options, maybe in some chains or something.
This is the situation that we notice in France, for example, there are 120 vegan restaurants in Paris, which is incredible, compared to, three, or four years ago. However, in non-vegan restaurants, it’s still pretty slim pickings. The dishes aren’t very easy to organize, so I guess I’m wondering what it’s like there. What is it like when you are in a place where there are not a lot of vegan restaurants around in the countryside, for example?
Eunice: Yeah, I would agree with that. The restaurants that are not vegan, there’s room for improvement there. You don’t see as many vegan-friendly options on their menu. For example, paella you can usually find a veggie paella. So that’s usually pretty good. Some dishes are pretty traditional, and that can just be as vegan for most people.
So like for example, Pan con Tomate, that’s like everywhere in Spain. That’s toasted, baguette essentially with grated tomato and salt and olive oil and it seems so simple, but the more you have it there, you’re like, I love this. I want this all the time. Same with like bravas, the fried potatoes, those are vegan.
So depending on which area you’re in, the Brava sauce could sometimes not be vegan. If anything, ask for that on the side. Over there in Spain, they have a meal time called Al Morso, which is like brunch time almost. So it goes from like 10 to 11:30 AM and typically for a Morso, they have Bocadillo sandwiches, right?
I remember I went to a small little town to visit one of my friends and typically they’ll have meat in the sandwiches. They knew I was vegan. I was like, Do you think I’ll even be able to order anything here?
The worker at the restaurant, explained to them, my diet. If you go to smaller towns, you will have to explain what veganism is. For a lot of people, they’ll think, can you eat seafood? What can you eat? When I told them that.
Oh, we always have verduras a la parrilla verduras a la plancha veggies, like grilled veggies. They always have that. I remember I went to a restaurant with a lot of my friends as well. That was the only thing they could offer me cuz that’s something they always have. They always have veggies and they’re delicious.
It’s grilled red bell pepper, eggplant, and mushrooms. So they can usually grill a bunch of vegetables for you and they put it in a sandwich or they just give it to you on the side. And honestly, I’m happy with that because it just tastes so good. Same with like artichokes. The artichokes are usually like, that’s always an option as well, Olives. So like you can find a lot of typical Spanish foods that are vegan, which is nice. I would say that if you’re at a restaurant, usually you’ll find avocado toast, which to me is after a while, that’s all you can offer me. Or hummus. You’ll see that everywhere. after a while you’re just like, Okay, I wanted something a little different. There are a lot of restaurants that are offering, a few vegan items, but as you said, in Paris, there’s room for improvement. You’ll find better variety at vegan restaurants.
Brighde: I would agree with you. It’s so funny that they sometimes will have just one dish available here in Whistler. I live just close to Whistler. The standard vegan option is a falafel wrap, all the time. 
Eunice: Yeah 
Brighde: I am wondering whether we would be able to write down the name of these, like accidentally vegan dishes in the show notes for this episode so that people can go and have a little look and just refer to that. No matter where they are, they’ll probably be able to get something.
 Why don’t you tell us a little bit about like some of your favorite cities in Spain, whether it’s because they’re very vegan-friendly or incredibly interesting? I’d love to know about that, particularly if, there are some cities that we yet covered on this podcast.
Eunice: Yeah. Madrid and Barcelona are I guess they’re, the top vegan-friendly cities, so I don’t want to go too much into that. Cause I know you’ve done a lot of episodes on that, but I feel like there are smaller or underrated cities, for example, Valencia, I know I talked about it in our past podcast as well, but Valencia, honestly I love it. If someone were to go back to me and be like, After visiting all the cities in Spain, which one do you wanna live in? I would go back to Valencia like I just loved it.
That they have such a growing scene. The beach area, the neighborhood called Cabanyal is up-and-coming. It’s becoming super trendy. It’s right by the beach. There are a lot of vegan-friendly options there. It’s a cool vibe.
There’s a marketplace too on the beach. So there’s two of ’em. One of ’em is called la Fabrica de Hielo, which translated as Ice Factory and it used to be an old ice factory that they’ve revamped into this cool music venue with a little food truck in there that has vegan options.
 There’s another open-air market called Mercado del Cabanyal, which is a bunch of food stands, and then it has a terrace at the top and that’s where you get your drinks and stuff, then the bottom is like the food course. Everybody like orders, but it’s open air and it looks super cool than industrial.
 Valencia’s a place worth checking out. If you’ve never had it or you’re trying to figure out where to go in Spain. They have this beautiful park that runs throughout the whole city so you can work out there, run there. There are soccer fields there like it has everything.
 Other cities, I think are really pretty and like worth checking out like Cardoba. Cardoba is nice. It’s smaller. In two days you see it all. Because there’s such a huge Arabic influence there, you can see the mesh between Arabic and Spanish, and Roman influence altogether and which is cool.
Their main attraction there is the mosque-cathedral because it used to be a cathedral, then it became a mosque, and then it became the cathedral again. Because of just, history, like who conquered who and who was running everything back then. And so it’s so cool visiting that mosque too, because of the architecture, it speaks the two cultures.
You see a lot of Arabic influence on the mosque side, and then you go to the cathedral side and then you see all of the Roman influence and it’s just all of that. It’s quite interesting to see that difference, but I was surprised to see some vegan options there as well. They have a huge, North African influence as well, or just like Arabic food, there’s a lot of Moroccan cuisines there because of this proximity to Morocco.
 You get a lot of Moroccan food there, which is always vegan-friendly, whether it’s in tagine and dips or Couscous. One particular dish that I do wanna point out in Cardoba is called Salmorejo, which if nobody’s ever heard of it, it’s similar to Gazpacho. It’s just thicker.
 It’s a national dish. Cardoba is known for this dish because if anybody’s ever been to Cardoba, it gets hot. Like hot, I love heat, it wasn’t per peak, summer season I was just like, it’s hot outside
 Because it’s more inland, it’s just about a two-hour drive south of Madrid and you’re not by the coast either. So Salmorejo is essentially a cold tomato soup.
 They made it cold because in the summer month they’re like, we just need something refreshing, but something savory at the same time.
 There’s an alley inside in Córdoba where you have the recipe for how to make it. What’s nice about it’s that it is vegan. It’s tomatoes, bread, olive oil, and salt that it.
 You puree it. So it’s almost like a thick tomato soup if you ever made tomato soup. That’s very similar ingredients. It’s all fresh tomatoes, fresh garlic, fresh everything. I’m not the kind of person who likes cold food.
I made a video on it. The restaurant is called, Sociedad Plateros de Maria Auxiliadora. And so it’s a long name. we probably have to write it down or it’s in the book as well. He made it for me live to like to show me how it’s made and after trying it with the bread, oh my gosh, it was so good.
 Again, because it’s so hot out, it’s refreshing cuz it’s not served ice cold. It was served at room temperature. It’s just delicious and like something to just know if you’re ever traveling, you ask for that. Make sure to ask for it without toppings, because what a lot of these restaurants do is they’ll make the base, the Salmorejo which is vegan, but then on top, they’ll usually serve it with like bacon or eggs or something.
So you just tell them no toppings, and then you can enjoy but what’s cool about that restaurant is that they also wanted to include all diets. So they made a gluten-free version so they make their gluten-free bread and they make gluten-free Salmorejo which was nice.
Brighde: Wow. That just sounds so delicious. I have been to Córdoba. I think that’s the city just a couple of hours south of Madrid. 
Eunice: Yes.
Brighde: I have been there and it is an absolutely beautiful old city. I dunno what it’s called in Spanish, but in Italian it’s Passeggiata, at six o’clock, seven o’clock, the whole town goes out and just walks around with their dogs and just enjoys the weather right?
It’s just fantastic people-watching. 
Eunice: Yeah. 
Brighde: We stayed there in Cardoba overnight but we basically just spent one afternoon there and for us, that was enough at that time. So where else would you put on a trip to Spain?
Eunice: If you want more of the Arabic influence, Granada is another beautiful city. I loved it. Granada is really beautiful. Again, a lot of Arabic influence, a lot of I, there’s some vegan food there as well, Moroccan influence. Also if people have never made it to the north of Spain, that’s a place worth checking out as well. It’s rainier there, but I went in October and I remember just laughing because the weather there is wild.
 You experience all four seasons in a day. It would rain and then the sun would come out and then it would get overcast. , and then it would sprinkle and it would rain again, and then the sun would come out and you’re just like, What is going on?
You walk the alleys of the streets as well, and umbrellas are covering the alleys, which is It looks pretty. It’s so green and so beautiful. That’s why I think my favorite part of Spain is that there’s just the difference in the environment is like completely different. You can get this tropical vibe, but you can also get this beautiful green foresty vibe depending on where you go in the north. Bilbao and San Sebastián were just really beautiful to see. Like Bilbao, I would say is more vegan-friendly. San Sebastian English, we spent about a day and a half there, so I can’t say I went to too many restaurants there. I did go to one brunch place that was both vegan and non-vegan. They had a huge vegan menu, which was nice. Those areas are known for pinchos.
So I don’t know if you know are familiar with pinchos or if anybody knows what they are. It’s almost like usually little pieces of bread or little like snacks and then they usually have like stuff on top of it and there’s usually like a toothpick on top to keep everything together.
The two friends I went with were not vegan. One of the things for me is I always like looking up the best foods to eat in a certain city without putting vegan in the search because I wanna know what people are usually eating there. After figuring that out, then I put that into the search for vegan.
I don’t wanna miss out on pinchos that’s something I highly encourage all travelers to do too. It’s like you wanna embrace the food and culture of the city that you’re traveling to. Don’t just go to the vegan restaurant that has the burgers and the fries. Sure, that’ll be delicious, but it’s you’re in Spain.
Come on. Where it may help that I know Spanish, like more comfortable speaking Spanish. When I went into this one, I remember in San Sebastian, we went into this pinchos bar. And you look at the whole rack and everything has meat on it.
 And so my friends wanted to go eat there so I asked, this is my situation. Do you have anything that you can make that doesn’t have meat or vegans? They’re like, Oh, yeah, if you don’t mind we’ll just put cheese on it because this has mushrooms and potato on it.
One of the servers was like, Oh, actually on the side we make hot dishes as well and you can add, it’s like a side. And I remember that was delicious. They gave it to me. It was like potatoes with some, green sauce. They made it and they roasted it with marinated mushrooms on top. It was delicious.
Just by looking at the restaurant, you would’ve easily said, they don’t anything for me here. If you can, don’t be afraid to ask if they can make something vegan for you. I will say that is easier if you speak Spanish just because the level of English in Spain is not all high.
But, give it a try, it’s worth trying. Just asking and sharing what your dietary restrictions are because people are usually very happy to accommodate, and that way you don’t miss out on anything. But I will say in Bilbao, there is a restaurant, it was called the Green Bistrot, and that’s what it was. They have an extensive vegan tapas and pinchos menu. You can get the croquetas, you can get skewers, you can get little sandwiches. They had pull-like cheese platters like everything was vegan. I remember me and a friend went and we ordered way too much food for two people, cuz I think we just got too excited.
It is nice to they do have that in like certain cities so you don’t have to miss out and you can like, try a bunch of different things and it’s like this bar vibe it was cool to just check it out and see that for sure.
Brighde: Yeah. The north of Spain is so, beautiful, and I like what you said about how Spain is diverse. I don’t think many people realize that. I think people understand that about France and just how diverse it is in terms of landscape and cuisine and languages and all of those kinds of things.
But Spain is very similar in that it has a huge variety of landscapes and different kinds of beaches and water and forests and all of that. It’s very special.
Eunice: Oh, definitely it is beautiful.
Brighde: Seb and I, definitely have on our list that we would love to have a vegan tour to Spain. To my knowledge, that has not been done before, so it will probably require a bit of work, but I think that would be a lot of fun.
Okay, so we have discovered a little bit three more towns We’ve discovered San Sebastian and Bilbao in that area in the north of Spain and Cardoba, and also Valencia as well. I’m sure that so many people listening to this podcast are gonna be so excited about possibly adding Spain to their bucket list of places to go and they will need your e-book. Would you mind spending a moment just telling people how they might find it and reaching out to you on other platforms as well so that they can learn all about traveling as a vegan in Spain?
Eunice: Yes. If they want the ebook, they can get it on my website, which is ratedvfood.com/ebook. But you can also just see the Spain ebook section on my website and then also on my Instagram page @ratedvfood in my link and bio, you can see an option to buy it there as well. If you wanna check out my videos on YouTube, these cities are on there.
In the ebook, in each city section, there is a link to the video as well. So after you read about the restaurants, if you wanna visually see it. Cause I’m a visual person if you wanna visually see the story of me, going along, trying these places. There’s a link to each video in the book as well, which is cool.
it’s all in one spot. My channel is YouTube.com/RatedV and so that’s where most people can get ahold of me.
Brighde: And your website is?
Eunice: www.ratedvfood.com
Brighde: Fantastic, I’d invite everybody who is listening to this podcast to go and subscribe to you on her YouTube channel and check out her website and her ebook.
Eunice, thank you so much for taking the time to talk about Spain. Where is your next travel destination? Where are you heading next?
Eunice: So that is currently in the works. Right now. I wanna take my parents because they don’t get to travel as much and they’re not gonna do it on their own. So I’m happy to take them. Currently, right now we’re thinking of Rome and Israel,
Brighde: Oh, amazing. That will be wonderful. Don’t go in the height of summer. That would be my advice. 
Eunice: No, we’re thinking of going pretty soon where it’s off-season, so it’d be nice. It’s not gonna be tons of tourists everywhere either. 
Brighde: Good, I’m pleased to hear that. All right. Thank you, Eunice. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Eunice: Thank you so much.

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