This Is the Only Country Where It's Illegal Not to Offer a Vegan Option

© Samuel Zeller / Unsplash
© Samuel Zeller / Unsplash
Photo of Alice Johnston
Food Editor20 February 2018

If you’re vegan (or even just doing Veganuary), it’s time to add a new country to your bucket list.

Portugal has become the first country where it’s illegal not to provide a vegan meal option in public buildings.

This means that in all schools, universities, hospitals and prisons, people have the option of selecting a meal that contains no animal products at all.

You can be assured of finding vegan food in Portugal | © neONBRAND / Unsplash

The law was approved in March 2017 after the Portuguese Vegetarian Society started a petition that gained more than 15,000 signatures at the start of 2016. It was joint efforts of three left-wing political parties that led to the law being passed.

Nuno Alvim, a spokesperson for Associação Vegetariana Portuguesa, said: ‘We feel this is a major breakthrough in Portugal because it’s the first time we have any law that specifically mentions vegetarianism.

‘It will promote diversity of eating habits and encourage more people to choose the veggie option as it becomes more widely available.

‘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.’

Beautiful Portugal listened to its vegan citizens | © Markus Dorfer / Unsplash

UK citizens are also keen to have this option, with a similar petition garnering more than 16,000 signatures.

Heather Russell, a dietitian from the UK’s Vegan Society, said: ‘Hospitals, prisons and places of education need to cater in a way that respects equality and diversity but, unfortunately, it can still be difficult to obtain vegan meals in some settings.

‘Staff training can contribute to this issue as people working in institutions may not have been educated about a vegan diet.

‘Our campaigning work aims to achieve just what the Portuguese law has – to ensure that nutritious vegan food is always readily available. I am working with health professionals and caterers to help them make this a reality.’

So: who’s going to Portugal?

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