I often get asked whether I find it difficult to stick to a vegan diet whilst travelling. Some countries can be harder than others but through perseverance, you will be sure to find a vegan alternative just about anywhere you may roam. I have compiled this blog post to help fellow vegans, vegetarians, and the ethically conscious alike to help prepare expectations on meals and what to expect when travelling vegan in Morocco.
Breakfast at Hotels
Breakfast is catered free of charge at most hotel stays you will visit. These options are presented buffet style and unfortunately, lack options for vegans. Most items you will find contain animal product, as options are pastries, cheeses, yoghurts, eggs and deli meats. This is due to Morocco’s French influence. Fruits are hardly available during breakfast times. This was not too much of a worry for me as I do not eat breakfast too regularly at home. I opted for two bread rolls with strawberry and apricot jam alongside olives (black and yellow are available) for most of my breakfast meals. I found olives to be an acquired taste to which I picked up during my stay. I prefer the yellow over black. Moroccan mint tea, fresh orange juice and coffee are also available. If you do drink coffee, ensure milk is not already pre-mixed before pouring.
Water can be purchased all throughout Morocco in small stores, supermarkets and at most hotels. The 1-litre bottles will set you back 6-10 dirhams (~$1.31 Australian) in small stores and 20 dirhams (~$2.71) in restaurants or at hotels. Water can be found as cheap as 4 dirhams in supermarkets. Do note that purchasing water is a necessity in Morocco as tap water is not safe to consume directly. If travelling with a large group I can suggest purchasing a 5-litre water trout and reusing small drinking bottles to reduce the use of plastic bottles.
When eating out options are limited. Bread and Olives are provided at fancier eateries free of charge as a starter which is vegan. So long as you do not use the butter. Moroccan Vegetable tagine and vegetable couscous should be a meal option everywhere. These meals are tasty but can get repetitive. When ordering this option, you need to be clear that it is a vegetarian dish you are ordering (they use vegetarian and hardly will understand vegan) as I have heard on occasion a broth will be used to flavour the couscous meal that is derived from beef. Moroccan couscous meals are elegantly presented with a display of assorted steamed vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots, parsnip, greens and chickpeas on a bed of fluffy couscous. This menu item will be ‘vegetarian couscous legumes’ when translated to French. Almost every menu you will find in Morocco is French or Arabic. A ‘vegetarian legumes tagine’ is a meal of slow-cooked steamed vegetables cooked in a tagine. A tagine is a cone-shaped earthenware clay pot used in North Africa.
When purchasing grocery items for a packed lunch on the train I opted for a tomato, banana, cherry tomatoes, a large bread roll, water, salted chips and some ‘mcvities digestives’ biscuits. I had eaten these mcvities biscuits all throughout my time in India and found them great for snacking. The tomatoes are also delicious here and I’ll eat them as if they were apples. This meal was not ideal but to make the most of the available options I decided to go with fruit, bread and biscuits to be safe.
During my second trip to the grocery store, I found olives, nuts, and a Bombay mix. These items, like the fruits, are weighted before you get to the counter to collect a sticker with a barcode and price. Oreos were also found on round two, as well as delicious pomegranate. In Moroccan supermarkets, you will find plenty of vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Meknes Street Food
Whilst friends tried camel my street food was lentil and tomato soup, grilled tomato and aubergine (eggplant) cooked with paprika and herbs, alongside orange and bananas for a dessert. This was of course supplied with bread and Moroccan Mint tea. This was eaten in the Medina in Meknes which catered quite well to me.
Marrakesh Street Food
During a tour of the Marrakesh Medina, my group was offered the chance to try street food. For my meal, I was provided with another delicious lentil soup, alongside dipping bread and olives. At the second location, I was served a second soup, called Vegetable Harira. This meal is eaten to break the fast during Ramadan and served with dates to regain energy levels. The dates in Morocco are incredibly soft and gooey and are a must try whilst visiting.
I’d also like to note I found various ice-cream parlours with sorbet inside shopping malls. Their flavour options were plentiful and they were delicious. I tried strawberry, raspberry and mango which were all great and at an affordable price. Do note the ice-cream store I went to offered whipped cream free of charge so be sure to explain you do not wish to have it on your sorbet. I also had the pleasure of finding a fruit salad option with sorbet at a restaurant I visited in Marrakesh on my last day.
Most often if you are offered a vegan dessert option it will be fruit. This is not to worry as the seasonal fruits in Morocco are delicious. A Moroccan favourite is sliced oranges with cinnamon. This is so tasty! Other times I was offered dates, pomegranate, and grapes. The apples are also fantastic here and I suggest you try to purchase some at the supermarket during your stay.
If travelling by yourself or with vegan friends you may have the chance to travel to vegan or vegetarian restaurants that cater to dietary and lifestyle requirements more specifically. These eateries are great as you’ll have more choice, however, with group tours you may not get the luxury of choosing these restaurants/cafes especially as there aren’t always conveniently close in proximity. I have compiled a list of a few eateries I visited which had great options.
Bondi – Casablanca
This cafe is Australian owned and has vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and refined sugar-free western style dishes with a Moroccan twist. This cafe is hip, and whilst visiting you will not feel like you are in Morocco but a flashy beach cafe in the middle of Sydney. I ordered an “apple duo” juice with ginger and apple. For food, I enjoyed a delicious “share platter” (I use this term lightly because I hardly share food) meal of loaded pita chips with avocado, avocado sauce, cherry tomatoes and black beans. As the main meal, I ordered a falafel dish with pumpkin, hummus, tabouli, and pita. This place was delicious although it’s upper-class location came with a higher price to that of local cuisine.
Mona Lisa – Fes
The Mona Lisa Italian restaurant in Fes was a great opportunity to have a break from Moroccan cuisine to ensure we wouldn’t get sick of couscous. Mona Lisa offered a great vegetarian pizza. I asked for many legumes (vegetables in French) with no cheese. The pizza was so good I ended up eating two by myself! It had Spanish onion, zucchini, capsicum, aubergine (eggplant), and cherry tomatoes. I added salt for taste. This restaurant also had a pasta option which with some effort I presume could be done vegan. Fruit juices were also available here and the peach juice was surprisingly nice.
Le Patio Bleu – Fes
Le Patio Bleu is a tourist type Moroccan restaurant in the middle of Fes Medina. Although the tourist price point was high this was the best food I’ve had so far on my trip. My table started with 10 Moroccan salad entrees to share between our table. These were all vegan and all amazing! There were olives, bread, vegetables, sweet potato mash, aubergine, just about everything. The entrees were a feast within itself. The main dishes on offer for vegans were vegetarian couscous or vegetarian tagine. The meal finished off with a platter of grapes and pomegranate. This meal cost 120 Dirhams which is equivalent to ~$16.31 Australian Dollars.
Earth Café – Marrakesh
This café is stationed in the heart of the Marrakesh Medina. Although I unfortunately never had the opportunity to visit, my vegan and vegetarian friends did with their extra stay after I had left for my flight and said it was wonderful. I’m happy to list this place regardless of the fact that I have not been as more awareness of this place will be beneficial to many.
Warning of Moroccan Crepes (Msemmen)
Moroccan crepes are a delicacy served for breakfast and as a snack.These crepes ingredients are all vegan (sugar, salt, yeast oil, flour). My tour guide reassured me of these ingredients several times on this trip and told me that they were cooked in oil. However, after my trip when researching the name of these crepes I discovered some recipes do suggest cooking with butter when frying and I now have no way of knowing whether any of the crepes I consumed during my trip had butter residue. Now knowing this information, I recommend checking how they are cooked with every hotel you stay in to confirm they are cooked in oil before consumption. The possibility is very disappointing and upsetting for me to consider, but I’m choosing to write about this any way to spread awareness. Not all crepes will be cooked in butter but as it’s a possibility now knowing this information I’d like to use this opportunity to warn others.
I hope this information may be helpful to any vegans interested in travelling to Morocco. Safe Travels!