I’m in love with all things French… and I’m vegan. Although I was confident in bringing my dream of studying abroad in Paris to life, one thing was making me nervous. I’m vegan, and I wasn’t sure how being vegan in Paris would work.
For example, when I imagine typical French cuisine, insane amounts of dairy and meat come to mind –croissants, escargot, macaron, coq au vin!
I wanted to stick to my values, but at the same time, I wanted to experience typical French cuisine.
Why did I choose Paris?
Imagine the following scenario: giant French tapestries and posters, maps of France, globes, French quotes, Parisian bed sheets, and countless Eiffel Tower statues on every visible surface.
You ask yourself, “Where am I?” Well, welcome to my bedroom.
I enjoy incorporating as much French as possible in my life. In my free time, I’m entertained by French books and films. At Christmastime, my family and I reminisce over French Christmas songs on my grandparents’ old stereo. The following quote describes my outlook on life: “Fais de ta vie un rêve et d’un rêve une réalité.” In other words, make your life a dream and your dream a reality.
As you can tell, it’s been my dream to study abroad in France, specifically Paris, from the beginning.
So what was it like, being vegan in Paris?
One of our first nights in Paris, our CIS Abroad site director Drasko took us to a restaurant near Notre Dame. We ended up getting a delicious three-course meal at a Parisian restaurant.
I ordered French onion soup, a vegetable plate, and sorbet. I found that eating typical French cuisine without meat can be easily accomplished. One tip for eating dessert in France without dairy is to opt for sorbet! It’s basically ice cream without dairy.
My meal during our Welcome Dinner.
I found it comforting that there was actually another vegan student in our CIS Abroad group as well as a vegetarian student. I really appreciated the fact that our site director always made sure that those with dietary restrictions could eat. I was a little worried that it would be nearly impossible to eat a totally plant-based diet, but to my surprise, with a little planning, it’s not too hard.
Did living in Paris change my view on food?
No matter where you live, I think it’s important for everyone to reflect on their dietary choices and how they affect others. I had to reflect on my situation and found that I was ok with the fact that I might be accidentally consuming dairy on some occasions.
It’s interesting to see the gradual yet influential trend of slowly shifting to a more plant-based diet around the world. The majority of restaurants in France I saw had vegetarian, if not vegan options.
Here is a vegan plate I ordered at a typical French restaurant:
What surprised me about food in Paris?
Something that surprised me was the Jewish Quarter in Paris. If you want amazing hummus and falafel (which is a Middle-Eastern food made of chickpeas), this area is perfect for you.
I think it’s amazing that people are not only becoming more accommodating for those with dietary restrictions but also realizing the benefits of eating plant-based foods in general.
I found that there are also unique vegan restaurants scattered throughout Paris. A quick Google search is always available to find certain restaurants. It sometimes takes a bit more planning to find them, but this vegan dessert I discovered was definitely worth it!
Does being vegan in Paris work?
To sum things up, it’s definitely possible to be vegan in Paris. However, it might be more difficult if you plan to eat out all the time because not all restaurants will be willing to adapt their existing dishes (to get rid of the dairy, for example.)
My biggest advice would be to shop at grocery stores and local markets and make your own food. I found that meal prepping saves time, energy, money, and you get peace of mind knowing exactly what you’re eating. But if you’re a vegan wanting to eat out, consult a menu beforehand so you know what food will be available.
Interested in heading to Paris? Check out our program offerings across France.