Sunday, June 19, 2011

a vegan in iceland. beautiful, beautiful iceland.

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As some of you know, I recently visited Iceland. We started and ended in Reykjavik,driving along the South Coast for a couple of days in between. It was insanely beautiful, surreal and serene. Between the moss-covered lava fields and Jökulsárlón, the iceberg lagoon, we often felt like we were on another planet.

When I told people that I was going to go to Iceland, many pondered at what I would eat while there. A common question was "don't they eat fermented shark? can you eat anything there?" As it turns out, it's quite easy being vegan and gluten-free in Iceland.

Here are some of my fave photos and meal pics from the trip. Some travel tips and our itinerary follow.

Tofu curry with carrots, onions and potatoes

gluten-free brown rice pasta with tofu, canned tomatoes, broccoli, olives and raw vegan Parmesan "cheese"

There are cats EVERYWHERE in Reykjavik. They're all super friendly too. We hugged so so many!

Eldhraun lava fields 

Icelandic ponies!


Iceberg lagoon

Fjardrargljufur canyon

Chickpea curry served with quinoa

Reykjadalur - smoke valley

Amazing soy latte at C is for Cookie

A Naestrum Grosum

Some travel tips!
1. Travel off season - rates were half the price as high season, the weather was still lovely and there weren't tons of tourists around. With Iceland especially, there was something that I think is part of the whole experience to being alone, in all that openess, with no one around for miles and miles. I especially recommend early May or late September so that you still get the good weather and because most things are open.

2. Stay somewhere that has a kitchen. Your best bet for traveling anywhere when you have any sort of specific eating requirements is to get a place where you have access to a kitchen. Luckily in Iceland it's all about guesthouses! Those are houses converted into bed and breakfasts in a way. You have your room, you share a bathroom and you have access to a full kitchen. We really really lucked out in this respect. We went through Guesthouse Aurora and ended up with our OWN studio apartment (with a full kitchen, private bathroom, washer/dryer) in downtown Reykjavik! For CHEAPER than a hotel room! Siggy, the owner, was very nice and helpful. And the place was incredibly clean and quite nice.

3. Find out where the grocery stores are. We did our grocery shopping at Bonus, which is the discount grocery store. They have dried and canned legumes, spelt products (though not gluten-free) for comparable prices to wheat products, and more. The prices were quite good, especially compared to 11-11, the other grocery store with later hours and less selection. There are also a good number (given the size of the city) of health food stores where you can buy non dairy milks, and other gluten-free and vegan and raw products - yum! Because it's an island with temperate weather, there isn't that that much by way of produce. It's not a bad selection - just not the best. Bonus had tofu - oh my god was it delicious! The texture was amazing!

4. Bring some key items from home. I brought some basics from home because I didn't know about availability - quinoa, gluten-free pasta, homemade granola, chia seeds, goji berries, trail mix, raw vegan Parmesan cheese, raw banana bread, and raw sunflower carrot bread. Having these foods made eating well much easier and saved us some money. When travelling with your own food, I recommend labelling it and its ingredients. Also, check for any restrictions before going. The one thing that I meant to bring but forgot and really really regretted forgetting was hot sauce. I made the same mistake when I went to Cuba - when will I learn???

5. Research beforehand any vegan-friendly restaurants. There are a handful of vegan-friendly restaurants in Reykjavik, but not all are also gluten-free, and they are on the pricy side. We ended up at A Naestu Grosum for a dinner. I've heard great things about the place and my travel buddy loved it, but unfortunately we went on Indian night...I am really really not an Indian food fan. Some of the cafes also have some vegan snacks - such as Babalu. My fave cafe was C is for Cookie that made the best best best soy vanilla latte I have ever had (and I've had quite a lot).

Our itinerary was pretty simple:
Saturday: arrive in Reykavik, get settled, walk around
Sunday: more Reykjavik
Monday: pick up car, drive along South Coast stopping at Waterfalls along the way, drive through the lava fields, hike in skaftafell national park, jokulsarlon. Stayed overnight at Guesthouse Hali - amazing place: great kitchen, great rooms, friendly people, ocean view. We were the only people staying so had the place to ourselves, but if you're traveling high season, you may want to ask for a room that's not right next to the kitchen.
Tuesday: back to Reykjavik, stopping at the Canyon, went back to Seljandfoss so I could walk behind the waterfall
Wednesday: hike in Reykadalur
Thursday: Thingvellir national park - we were too tired for a serious hike, so it wasn't that exciting
Friday: Reykjavik and Cafe Amsterdam at night
Saturday: Reykjavik
Sunday: Blue lagoon and home

All in all it was an amazing trip and i can't wait to go back! I'm thinking an October trip for the huge music festival!

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Blogger Lucy Lu said...

oh jesus this looks wonderful! :)

i'm so hungry right now.. njamnjam..

June 20, 2011 at 4:50 PM  
Blogger Healthy and Homemade said...

What amazing pictures!! My friend from high school moved to Iceland and fell in love, got married, and now has a baby. Her pictures are always gorgeous, it must be a wonderful place to live.

June 20, 2011 at 9:02 PM  
Blogger Frannie said...

Your pictures are beautiful!
Looks like a wonderful place to visit.

June 21, 2011 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Sharan said...

These pictures are amazing! I would have never imagined that being vegan in Iceland would be so easy!

June 21, 2011 at 4:01 PM  
Anonymous Iceland Getaway said...

All the picture are gorgeous. I mainly like the mountain and sheep baby. I am thinking to be go for vacation over the Iceland. These Iceland is great place for vacation.

July 19, 2011 at 6:47 AM  
Blogger celia said...

Wow! so beautiful. I've always wanted to go to Iceland. Sounds like an amazing trip. I hope you had fun!

September 9, 2011 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Lisa is Raw on $10 a Day (or less!) said...

What beautiful pics of Iceland! I'm officially envious .. but will use your tips whenever I can go myself! The food looks amazing, too :)

October 11, 2011 at 5:05 AM  
Blogger Bing Bing said...

How can you not like Indian food? More than half your food picks were curries!

January 31, 2012 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger selene @veganlicious said...

I prefer to think of my curries as thai inspired ;)

March 25, 2012 at 9:19 PM  
Anonymous ANA said...

Hi veganlicious and all the others!

Well I have a few questions for you that might really help me.

I am doing the EVS voluntary project in Iceland, starting this summer, lasting for 1 year. What I am little concerned about is the food prices! I will self-cater of course.

The thing is, I eat a bit special way, just like you :). I am sticking to this ''diet'' that some therapy recommends. And that means I eat vegetarian (sometimes I eat fish, although I shouldn't), don't eat a lot of diary products, and when I do, not with just any food. It's about proper combinations, something like that.

This means I eat A LOT of veggies and fruits, cook on cold pressed coconut oil, eat spirulina, quinoa, amaranth, tapioca and other similar, a bit special foods.

I mean I'm not that fancy as it sounds, but few things, like a toothpaste, schampoo and face cream let's say, I like to buy certified organic.

These kind of products are of course pricy also here in my home (Slovenia), but still I kinda can't get a picture, how much would this kind of lifestyle cost me in Iceland. I would try to find some stores that fit best. I know there are many organic and special stores and foods in Iceland, but can't imagine the prices. Can I have normal budget lifestyle if eating like this?

I hope you answer. By the way, I like your website - have to check it out a little more :).

Have fun! And thank you!

Ana (Slovenia)

April 7, 2013 at 4:08 AM  
Blogger astrid said...

I just got back from Iceland as a Vegan and we self catered.. bought a Primus stove and basic cookware.. Shopped at Bonus in many cities around the country. I had a lot of tacos, made a curry one day, sandwiches with a nutella like spread that was vegan.. Look around, read labels.. I had some veggie ramen too.. It wasn't the healthiest eating, but I definitely didn't starve. Even Subway is prevalent there and dominos made us vegan pizza. happy travels everyone !

July 1, 2014 at 10:35 AM  

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