Inside Spain: The rise in vegan food and Mallorca get serious about mass tourism

Being a vegetarian or even a vegan in Spain has generally always been very difficult with not many options beyond salads, veggie paella and tortilla or Spanish omelette (if you eat eggs).

But that all appears to be changing, at least in many parts of the country, in particular major cities and popular tourist resorts.

According to the Vegetarian Union of Spain, vegetarianism and veganism have been on the rise in Spain since 2017, and although the numbers fluctuate the latest data from 2023 shows that 11.4 percent of the population identify as either vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian (a person who very occasionally eats meat or fish).

A survey carried out by Just Eat together with IPSOS Digital showed that seven out of 10 Spaniards considered veganism beneficial for the environment and one out of every two Spaniards said that they would choose vegan options a couple of times per week.

“Ten years ago they would look at you weird if you asked for soy milk with your coffee at a roadside bar,” the owners of Madrid vegan restaurant Planeta Vegano told El País. This is now changing as the consumption of vegetable-based products in Spain has increased by 48 percent in two years.

Due to the rise of vegetarianism and veganism worldwide, many places in Spain have upped their plant-based and vegetarian offerings in order to cater to visitors and tourists.

The global vegan food market is expected to reach a value of over €25.7 billion in 2024 and parts of Spain have been trying to capitalise on this trend, particularly Barcelona.

Online travel agency Loveholidays placed the Catalan capital in fourth position in its list of vegan hot spots in Europe, only surpassed by London, Paris and Berlin, and the world’s largest vegan restaurant guide HappyCow includes Barcelona in the top 10 in its list of the most Vegan-Friendly cities worldwide.

According to vegan experts worldwide, 2024 will be the year of whole foods such as mushrooms, beans and nuts instead of processed fake meats and vegan cheeses, and already Barcelona seems to be on trend with many of its restaurants offering healthy bowls and focusing on the vegetables themselves in places such as the chain of restaurants Honest Greens, Cafè Menssana, Sesamo and Fat Veggies. There are in fact so many opening up all the time now that it’s impossible to list them all.

Despite the wider variety of food choices, Spain remains a meat-loving nation with only around 2 percent of people describing themselves as vegan and 2 percent are vegetarian.


And now for something completely different – Mallorca and the rest of the Balearics are getting serious about mass tourism.

A wave of protests took place across the islands at the weekend. In Mallorca, thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday to demonstrate against overtourism, under the slogan “Mallorca is not for sale.”

As a result, it seems as though Balearic authorities are beginning to listen, sparking talks, changes and new rules.

On Wednesday May 29th, the mayor of Palma de Mallorca Jaime Martínez, responded to protesters by presenting a raft of proposals that involve “limiting, restricting or prohibiting” mass tourism in the capital.


Initiatives on the table include the prohibition of new tourist apartments, limiting the arrival of cruise ships and preventing too many car rentals from operating in the Mallorcan capital.

“We have been studying a series of measures and changes for a year that are in line with finding a better balance between tourists and residents, and to respond to concerns regarding tourist congestion and the effects that this activity has on residents,” Martínez said.

The City Council is also committed to “more firmly regulating” organised tour groups, as well as a limit on the number of people who tour the city with a guide.

Another proposal includes not just limiting the number of cruise ships but also imposing two different fees for passengers – one when they arrive at the port and another when they enter Palma in order to try and discourage some from entering the city.

Previously Mallorcan authorities have focused on putting a stop to the boozy and rowdy cheap tourism model found in places such as Magaluf, with new rules introduced this year that tighten previously existing drinking restrictions. Now they appear to be acting to address more of the multi-faceted issues associated with mass tourism. 

READ ALSO: No Spain’s Balearics haven’t banned tourists from drinking alcohol

The Local Barcelona News