If you’re a travelling vegan you know how hard it can be to find a meal that doesn’t involve animal products and isn’t a bowl of fries. Besides the language barrier in some countries, it’s a simple fact that many restaurants and cafés don’t offer vegan options. With the growing trend towards vegetarianism and veganism (or even just flexitarianism), it’s about time veggie-friendly options became more widespread.
The first country to get ahead of the curve and make sure everyone is catered for? Portugal!
Portugal is officially the first country who has made it illegal not to offer a vegan menu option. The law was passed in 2017 and it applies to public buildings such as schools, universities, hospitals and prisons right now (as everywhere else people have the choice to go elsewhere to find a suitable meal).
There is more on the vegan menu in Portugal
The landmark law came after the Portuguese Vegetarian Society successfully passed a petition with 15,000 signatures. That means all state-owned facilities (think prisons, school canteens, and hospitals) require, by law, to cater to vegans and vegetarians.
A spokesperson for the society, Nuno Alvim, says they’re proud to be contributing to public health: ‘It will promote diversity of eating habits and encourage more people to choose the veggie option as it becomes more widely available.’
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Nuno continues, saying: ‘This is, of course, predicted to have a significant impact on the population’s health foremost, but also on animals and the environment in the long run. Promoting the rights of the vegan population is as important as campaigning and informing people to adopt veganism, in our view.’
The UK is likely to follow suit after a petition by UK’s Vegan Society got over 16,000 signatures. Having options for everyone, the same as we cater to diets based on religious beliefs, is a great step forward for any country. Until then though, Portugal can expect visits from a lot of happy vegans!