8 Mar, 2024 @ 16:00
3 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: ‘I visited the new vegan butchers in southern Spain – these were my favourite dishes’ 

ANDALUCIA’s first vegan butchers has opened and I visited to try out their versions of traditional Spanish products. 

The deli counter at El Vegans could be mistaken for any normal deli. Photo: The Olive Press

READ MORE: Vegan foie gras takes Spain by storm

I have been vegetarian since the age of ten and vegan for seven years, so it feels a bit strange walking into a ‘butchers’. 

But this new venture, just opened in Malaga’s Huelin neighbourhood, is not what it seems. 

El Vegans, is a fully plant based ‘butchers’ where you can buy all of Spain’s beloved meat, fish and cheese but without the animals. 

The shop is one of a franchise spread throughout Spain, with many outlets in the vegan hub of Barcelona. 

When I walk in, the first thing that strikes me is the sterile white walls reminiscent of traditional butchers. 

‘This is the butchers of the future’ read the neon sign over El Vegans. Photo: The Olive Press

READ MORE: First ever ‘vegan butchers’ in Andalucia opens on the Costa del Sol – this is what’s on the menu

The counter is filled with fillets, burgers, milanesas, chorizo and an extremely convincing round of blue cheese. 

“It’s made using the same bacteria as normal blue cheese,” the owner, Jorge Garcia, tells me. 

“The only difference is the milk.” 

This encapsulates El Vegans’ aim to provide ‘vegan versions of traditional products’. 

The deli counter is stocked full of vegan alternatives to popular meat dishes like milanesas, kebabs, burgers and ham. Photo: The Olive Press

READ MORE: Can vegan butchers help Spain give meat the chop?

“I don’t like the origin of animal products but why should being vegan mean you have to give up certain textures and flavours from your childhood? We should still be able to have that comfort and variety,” he said.

All the products are made in Barcelona using only natural ingredients like lentils, soya and seitan. 

While some meat alternatives resort to highly processed and artificial measures, Els Vegans vows to be a ‘healthy alternative’ to meat products. 

El Vegans also offers a range of outsourced cheeses, meats, pizzas and even vegan foie-gras. Photo: The Olive Press

READ MORE: Spain’s cities top the charts for best vegan menus in Europe

“A lot of older people buy from us because they need to avoid meat for their health. They want the same tastes in a way which is good for your body, we provide that.” he said. 

Behind the counter, a variety of tasters have been laid out for me to try. 

The chorizo is spicy and peppery and goes really well in a Spanish ‘guiso’ or vegetable and chickpea stew. 

The chorizo was deliciously peppery and would be perfect on pizza, in a stew or paella. Photo: The Olive Press

The kebab pieces are chewy and moorish, perfect for a wrap or salad topping. 

These chewy chicken kebab pieces were delicately spiced and perfectly chewy. Photo: The Olive Press

However, the star of the show is the ‘serranito’ cutlets filled with sobresada. 

The serranito filled with rich tomato sobresada is ‘to die for’ Photo: The Olive Press

READ MORE: Say cheese for top vegan award on Spain’s Costa Blanca

A classic Spanish spread, the sobresada provides a creamy, rich tomato and pepper filling that many customers say is ‘to die for’, according to Jorge. 

Behind me, there is a fridge with prawns, octopus rings and empanadas and I wish I could try them all. 

Before going fully vegetarian, it took me a while to give up my beloved fish and chips and I’ve found vegan calamari and prawns to be a great alternative to fish products.

The vegan prawns look eerily real but there are also chicken nuggets and cheese sticks for the kids. Photo: The Olive Press

But what really catches my attention (or that of my sweet tooth) is the freezer stocked with pistachio ice cream, carrot cake and doughnuts. 

The dougnuts and cakes are from a local vegan restuarant Vegabounty, in Fuengirola and I make a mental note to visit it.

The freezer of temptation really tested my willpower. Photo: The Olive Press

It’s essential, says Madrid born Jorge, to have this variety. 

“People will only change when they have the options.”

“We have to take care of our resources and be sustainable. I have two little girls and I want to make their future better.”

The shop also plans to hold weekly events in their adjoining office space for ‘like minded people’ to meet up. 

Their last event, held on February 29 was a resounding success. 

In the future, Jorge also hopes to sell El Vegans alternatives to local restaurants so they can provide vegan versions of their menus. 

READ MORE: Spain’s Top 10 vegetarian and vegan cities

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