what vegan food should I bring on my trip to Paris?
April 26, 2012 9:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm vegan and planning a trip to Paris. What staples, if any, should I bring to round out meals I'll be making in the vacation rental where I'll be staying?

I'm vegan and am planning on being mostly vegan / as vegan as possible on a trip to Paris. I want everything I make for myself to be vegan, though. I'll be staying in a small vacation rental and will have access to a basic kitchen, fridge, etc.

The apartment is near an organic grocery store, so I'll be able to get whatever they have at those. I'm not planning any elaborate cooking. I'm planning on eating a lot of baguette with jam and lots of veggies and green salads. But are there any vegan / vegetarian staples that might unexpectedly not be available? Or are weirdly overpriced there? That I also could reasonably bring in my luggage? For example, I might toss some peanut butter or a small jar of nutritional yeast into my bag, but wouldn't want to bring anything like, you know, Earth Balance or tofu.
posted by fireflies to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have any particular items? I'm fairly knowledgeable about Paris, but not knowledgeable about what you would consider for basic vegan cooking. Enjoy cooking for yourself with all the wonderful ingredients available there, but know that "vegan" doesn't translate.
posted by raccoon409 at 9:59 AM on April 26, 2012

You might find this thread over at the PPK message boards helpful.
posted by something something at 10:11 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Peanut butter will not be available as you know it, and it will be expensive. So yes, definitely that. If you tend to cook with nutritional yeast then yes bring it, though I don't know how useful it would be for more on-the-go meals. I don't remember seeing anything resembling Earth Balance though possibly a specialized grocery store might know how to find it. Similarly if you snack on Luna Bars or Clif Bars, you might want to bring those in too. Is there anything in particular you're worried about not finding? Oil; fresh vegetables; dried pasta; jam-- not a problem.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:11 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

The French don't really understand "vegetarian" and I know that my vegan friend strugges a bit dining out here in Paris.

BUT Naturalia (a chain of organic stores throughout France, there's a good online shop so you can see what they sell) do sell peanut butter, and tofu and seitan etc. I don't know about nutritional yeast, sorry. Or the Épicerie Anglaise sells peanut butter (€3-6 a jar).

Le Potager du Marais is a nice vegetarian resto with vegan options. Krishna Bhavan also cater to vegans. Neither are especially French, sorry. :( But they are very good. :)
posted by jujulalia at 10:20 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

In case you haven't already found this: Vegan Paris.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:21 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks, this is already super helpful! Thanks for the info and the links. I did know about the peanut butter, that's a big part of what inspired this question!

For specifics, I didn't mention them originally because I am pretty open about what vegan food I eat so I didn't want to make it all about "but what if there is no toffuti pretend cream cheese?!" (For the record, I am not at all worried about going without that.) I almost made this question more of a "if I just eat fruit, salad, baguette, and supplements for 2 weeks, will I faint from lack of protein" kind of question but decided against it.

Basically, I eat most of what you would imagine a stereotypical Bay Area vegan eats! Lots of tofu, salads, kale, pasta, spinach, beans, hummus, etc. I do eat a lot of food that's mostly marketed to vegans, like Earth Balance and soy milk, but I could certainly do with oil and, uh, water (?) for a couple weeks. Bringing Luna or Clif Bars is an excellent idea - then if I do end up on a salad-and-baguette-only diet, I will be getting more protein and nutrition, not to mention handy snacks.
posted by fireflies at 10:35 AM on April 26, 2012

There are also loads of lovely nuts and fruit mixes around! Maybe take a couple of plastic knives and some of those little tubs of peanut butter, so that if you need a snack and are out and about you can just grab some crackers or fruit? I don't think soy milk will be a huge problem either, and there really are fantastic falafel places. Even the quick grocery stores have little pots of salads and things, many of which are vegan, like carrot and raisins, and bean salads. And I do believe really good dark chocolate (and the sorbets mentioned in the excellent link above to the PPK thread) will sort you out for any sweet cravings.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:46 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wanted to chime in re: nut butter - the squeezable single-serving nut butter packets from Nathan's have been very useful for me while traveling. Very portable on-the-go protein. Great flavors too. If you live in the Bay Area, I consistently find them at both Whole Foods and Safeway.
posted by soleiluna at 10:51 AM on April 26, 2012

"if I just eat fruit, salad, baguette, and supplements for 2 weeks, will I faint from lack of protein"

No, you'll be fine. Supermarket hummus might be a harder find, you could do your own, just for two weeks, mashed up chickpeas fine. Soy milk is also reasonably easy to find as well. Your biggest issue might be an on the go lunch, or wanting to sit down for lunch and salad is your only option. But really, it's just two weeks, you'll be fine.
posted by raccoon409 at 10:51 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hey, I live in Paris!

- Fruits and vegetable stores everywhere!
- Naturalia has all more vegan stuff than you can shake a stick at
- Peanut butter is expensive, but so is everything else.
- Supermarket hummus is SUPER EASY TO FIND but there isn't much variety for flavors. You can get "spicy" (it's not) and "pine nut" (has pine nuts on top) and "original". The containers are the same as in the states (round, clear plastic, about 3 inches tall and 5 or 6 in diameter), and it is in a refrigerated section with roasted eggplants, tzatziki, and the pink spread made of fish eggs (tarama?).

In other words, like others said, you'll be fine. Maybe throw in a few ziplocs full of spices, just so you don't have to buy them here.
posted by whatzit at 11:08 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Quinoa. Always quinoa.

Since regular whole quinoa isn't super portable for out-and-about/on-the-go lunches en francias, I suggest packing some quinoa flakes with you from home, and eating them for breakfast (they cook just like oatmeal or cream of wheat, and you have access to kitchen in your rental) before you head out for the day. That way, regardless of what you can/can't find throughout your Parisian wanderings that day (and believe me, you don't want your glorious unstructured wandering time to be curtailed by searching for something you can eat), you know you've at least started yourself off with a protein-packed petit dejeuner and don't need to panic nutritionally for the rest of the day.
Also, it's delicous. ;)
Bon voyage!
posted by Dorinda at 11:11 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

As whatzit rightfully points out, there are plenty of organic stores in Paris with a wide range of vegan products. There's the Naturalia chain, but also Biocoop and Les Nouveaux Robinsons, and many small independent shops. Even more general upscale store chains, like Monoprix, have plenty to choose from (quinoa and hummus, for instance, are very, very widely available). Parisians tend to buy groceries in small amounts almost daily (apartments and fridges being small to very small, and owning a car highly inconvenient), so that you're everywhere within walking distance of a smattering of stores.
Restaurants are a different matter, mind you. For many French people, if it doesn't walk on two or four legs, it's vegetarian. And eggs, butter and cream are fundamental for French cuisine.
posted by Skeptic at 11:59 AM on April 26, 2012

I always pack spices if I'm planning to cook, because they are always so expensive (and inferior to Penzeys!) when I travel.
posted by raisingsand at 12:22 PM on April 26, 2012

Look up the days of the many year-round outdoor street markets, or indoor ones as well. There's a huge, well known "bio" (organic) market on Blvd. Raspail every Sunday. (Plug for the Sunday organ concerts not too, too far away at 11:00 at St. Sulpice.) Nearly all the street markets have Middle Eastern stalls with incredible selections of nuts, hummus, and fabulous olives. Try all kinds of breads, but not from supermarkets. Everybody thinks baguettes when they think of France, but bakeries like the Erik Kaiser chain have incredible breads with all kinds of flours, nuts, etc. Kaiser is in almost every neighborhood. At lunchtime look for bakeries that have a line of French people. That's where your good breads are. Bon appetit!
posted by Elsie at 12:56 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

As others have said, dining out is problematic (cheese, eggs and lard are the French holy trinity). That said, the produce is absolutely fantastic, even at chain stores like Monoprix. Just be sure to take your purchases to the Weighing Person before you enter the checkout line.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:36 PM on April 26, 2012

You can find unsweetened peanut butter in a can with a chubby blond kid on the front in the North African section of the supermarket. It's a little more toasted tasting than normal peanut butter but perfectly fine and not crazy expensive like the small jars of American stuff.
posted by carolr at 7:21 PM on April 26, 2012

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