Text by: Agata Ryszkowska
Holidays in 2020 are nothing that we expected them to be. Most of the Icelanders had to postpone their travels to warmer countries and decided to spent their vacation exploring their own country. It’s definitely an advantage for local businesses since lots of them rely on tourists and now they struggle to keep their cash flow on a satisfactory level. Even though it’s government approved to fly to some other countries, I decided not to take the risk and explore what this exceptional island has to offer. Doing the ring road trip has always been on my bucket list but I never got around to do it. So it was a perfect time!
Eating plant-based is definitely not difficult if you live or visit the capital area. There are multiple options to eat out and the supermarkets’ shelves are full of vegan alternatives. Things change once you leave Reykjavik… On my 10 day trip I didn’t really want to completely rely on my camping food. Sometimes you’re just too tired to make something or you just want someone to make you delicious food just for the sake of it. So I made a meal plan, did my groceries and left the city.
PLACES WORTH A RECOMMENDATION
There’s a significant difference between choosing to eat somewhere because you’re starving or eating out because you want to experience something. If you only expect to satisfy your hunger, then you’re completely fine – there’s plenty of options to eat all around Iceland. But if you’re fed up with the vegan options being a salad, a burger or a pizza, then you really have to lower your expectations. It’s my personal opinion but I feel like the restaurant owners sometimes don’t even try to come up with something more ambitious. So here are a couple of places that offer not only delicious food, but characterize in a unique atmosphere.
Karlsstaðir, 765 Djúpivogur
A gorgeous place that combines a guesthouse, art-residence, music venue and a coffee shop. It also deals with organic vegetable farming and food production. It’s a great place for a quick stop in the East Fjords. Fuel up on delicious coffee and their homemade plant-based hot dogs with sauerkraut and you’re good to go!
Móðir Jörð describes themselves as: „it’s situated on a farm called Vallanes in beautiful east Iceland, near a glacial lake, midway between Egilsstaðir and Hallormsstaður. We grow grain and vegetables which are key ingredients in our food line consisting of healthy and delicious barley, crackers, chutneys and lacto-fermented vegetables. The farm is open for visits from May through September for visits. The farm shop is open from Monday – Saturday from 9-18. Móðir Jörð is striving to promote healthy lifestyles and organic farming and food production in Iceland and beyond.”
It’s located slightly off the beaten track but it’s so worth a visit if you’re near Egilsstaðir. Most of the meals and products they offer are vegan. It’s not only a place to eat but also a place where you can stock up on crackers, oils, fermented or pickled vegetables. 100% yes!
Ráðhústorg 3, 600 Akureyri
It was so good I forgot to take a photo. It’s a very popular place so it’s best to keep in mind that it can be crowded, so book your table in advance. It’s a classic Indian restaurant that offers a few vegan dishes. The food is wonderful as well as the service! It’s a perfect way to warm up after a whole day of hiking.
Aðalstræti 22b, 400 Ísafjörður
A cosy, rustic restaurant in the centre of Ísafjörður. It has a couple of vegan options, like an open sandwich with mushrooms or a breakfast plate. The waiters are really working with the customer to come up with the best option so that’s a huge advantage. It’s a perfect place for brunch or lunch where you can enjoy good quality coffee and a slice of vegan cake in the far North of Westfjords. Besides food, they also sell a small selection of sustainable self-care products like soap or sunscreen.
It may seem very little places that are worth a visit but there’s an app called Vegan Iceland available both in Google Store and in Apple Store. The app gathers all of the vegan options all around Iceland so it makes it super easy to search for a place that perfectly suits your needs. You’re not going to starve, that’s for sure! And things get much easier if you’re vegetarian.
FOOD TO MAKE WHILE CAMPING
I have to say the plan that I made really worked for me. It’s best to keep it simple as possible, no one wants to spend an hour making a meal after a whole day of driving and hiking. I ate two hot meals a day: porridge with fruit in the morning and something else for dinner. In between those meals I snacked on: crackers, hummus, fresh and dried fruit, sandwiches, energy bars, chips. I’m going to share with you some of my favorite ideas for quick, delicious and nutritious dinners. Every meal feeds about 2-3 people but you can also expect some leftovers for the next day.
CHILLI SIN CARNE
You’ll need: two cans of chopped tomatoes, a can of black beans, a can of corn, yellow pepper, onion and garlic. Fry the onion with garlic, spice it up with some smoked and spicy paprika, chop the pepper, throw everything together to a pot and simmer for about 10minutes. Serve with grain of choice, like rice.
LENTIL PASTA WITH MUSHROOMS
It’s such an easy way to throw in some extra protein to your meal – switch your regular pasta to the lentil one! Or other legumes of choice. You’ll need: onion, garlic, lentil pasta, a vegan cooking cream to make the creamy sauce, mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste. Fry the onion and garlic, add chopped mushrooms, fry together until everything is nice and browned. Add the cream and simmer for couple extra minutes. Cook the pasta and you’re done!
RISOTTO WITH PEPPER AND BROCCOLI
It was definitely my favorite meal. You’ll need: onion, garlic, spices of choice (basil, smoked paprika), two cups of vegetable stock (the cubes are fine), risotto rice, red pepper, baby broccoli. Fry the onion and garlic, add red pepper, spices and let them soften. Add rice along with the stock, let it boil and then simmer on low heat. Watch the rice so it doesn’t stick to the bottom; add more stock as needed. A couple of minutes before the rice is ready, add the baby broccoli so it can steam and soften. Mix it all together afterwards and serve.
15 MINUTE MISO SOUP
The easiest and quickest one I’ve made. You’ll need: miso paste, soft tofu, broccoli florets, a vegetable stock cube and rice pasta. Boil some water, add about two tablespoons of miso paste, let it dissolve along with the stock cube. Add tofu cut into cubes as well as broccoli florets and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile cook the pasta. Done!
PASTA WITH TOMATO SAUCE
It’s so versatile it’s unbelievable. You’ll need: pasta, a bottle of pasta sauce/passata, onion, lots of garlic, any veggies of choice like zucchini, mushrooms, pepper, carrots… the list goes on. It’s worth to smuggle some protein so don’t be afraid to add some canned chickpeas or crumbled tofu. Fry everything together, add the tomato sauce, simmer for a couple of extra minutes. Serve with al-dente pasta. Buon appetito!
I also brought with me some ready meals I got in Vegan búðin like ramen, other soups that don’t have such a bad ingredients list and the famous mac’n’cheese Dayia pasta. They were such a great backup when I was just too tired to make a proper meal. It’s also worth visiting the mentioned store to store up on snacks!
Our fellow friend from I heart Reykjavik made a great map where you can actually see where’s the closest grocery store is. Don’t expect supermarkets to be in every town! It’s best to have some extra food supplies for a couple of days worth. Here’s the map.
Enjoy your camping and remember, it’s only slightly difficult if you’re plant based! 🙂