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Difficult to be vegan in France


As a Frenchman, I would like to share to you how difficult is to be vegan in France. Excuse me for my English, I do not practice it very well.

There are here strong resistances to vegan way of life because of its incompatibility with a national economy focused on milks, cheeses, meats and other products which involves animal torture (“foie gras”). Hunters and animal products workers represent a very important lobby : they receive lots of subsides and they put pressure on vegans by the law (by forbidding use of words “milk”, “steak” etc. for vegetal products). I live near Calais, in northern France, where a vegan festival has been forbidden by the municipality because of hunters threats. These last months, some butcheries have been sacked by “vegan activists” (even though nobody had been caught). So, they wanted to revenge. Fortunately, administrative court ruled against the municipality and permitted to the festival to take place on September 8th. But hunters will organize a demonstration against it.

Hunter lobby is very powerful here and president Emmanuel Macron is the most hunting-friendly president who has been elected these last decades. Hunting with hounds is still legal in France, although many Western European banned it.

I travelled a bit in Europe and I find it is much easier to supply vegan food aboard. For instance, chocolate is often made with milk in France in order to support producers. German “Nutella” (brand hazelnut cocoa spread) has a higher concentration on cocoa than the French one. Moreover, there are less vegans in France than in any other Western European country.

You may confront a similar situation in your country but if you have travelled in France, let me know about your
experience !
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Indian Summer

Cult Leader
Hi @CasusBelli and welcome on board!

We had a thread about the cancelled vegan festival in Calais recently, see here.

And yes, I've been to France many times, so I know it's much more difficult to find decent vegan food there than the UK, which is where I live. (More recently I've been to Paris and Grenoble, but I've also been to Cote d'Azur a.k.a. the French Riviera around 15 years ago.) France has a lot going for it, but it seems awfully backwards about food. That said, I've read that there are a lot more vegan products around there now than a few years ago, so despite everything perhaps the situation is improving?

Maybe @shyvas would like to comment? :)

The thing about the economy being focused on animal products sounds familiar. I'm originally from Norway which also has an animal product-based economy. (Fish, especially salmon exports brings in huge profits, but dairy and meat also keep the wheels turning in the local economy around the country.) However, in recent years the number of vegans and vegan products have exploded, and recently the main dairy company started to use non-animal rennet in their dairy cheeses, and they also announced they are going to start making vegan cheese!


MadamSarcastra, over & out.
I've never been to France, very much hope to visit one day, perhaps brush up my French... don't really know if I should comment here... except I come from a state where hunting & fishing are a huge part of the economy.... So yes, I can sympathize at least.... :sadnod:


Ankle Biter
I've only been to Paris and Giverny, and only stayed for a week, so my experience was quite different from what you've had. I thought Paris was wonderful for vegans - Paris is such multinational city that we were not only able to find many vegan restaurants, but also Italian, Lebanese and other middle eastern/Mediterranean cuisines, and Asian. And the fresh produce! Mon Dieu! Salads and fruit and dates and olives - I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. :)

You may want to download the Happy Cow app. We've used Happy Cow throughout the US, Europe and Canada to help us locate vegetarian/vegan options and it's never let us down.

Norway was the hardest country for vegans that I've experienced. Denmark was better, England great. We're going to try Italy soon, I'll let you know how it goes!
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Famous Member
UK or Spain
Does living 24 hours on a French boat count as going to France? I have just taken the ferry from Portsmouth UK to Santander in Spain. But apart from that I have spent quite a lot of time in France in the past. On the boat and in France generally my biggest problem is that French cooks cover their food in sauces which make it hard to see what you are eating! I discovered prawns chopped up in a salad and sausage chopped up in another salad. My French is good, so I ask. A little vegan V would remove the need to ask. However on the boat I asked if they had any vegan dishes, as none were visible anywhere. The response was that one of the cooks produced a meal in a jar (like a Kilner jar) which was delicious. But the meal was hidden under the counter!!! And it was made in the UK. Most of the travellers on the boat were from the UK too.
The French have always been a little too proud (arrogant?) about their food IMHO. But it seems like they are also playing dirty tricks to make people conform to their carnivorous norms. At least with the boat I don't have to drive through France itself: that would make my journey 2 days longer.


Famous Member
UK or Spain
Same! Going to Trieste (via Venice) for a meeting next week. Seems like an interesting corner of the country.
G and I once went to Venice via Trieste. It was a cheap Ryanair flight. Venice is much more interesting than Trieste but to be fair we only went from the airport to the railway station in Trieste. Italy has to be a bit easier for vegans than France. In the past I've found Italian cooks quite willing to make alterations in a dish to make it suitable for me as a vegetarian. Having said that, they are very proud of their cheeses.
I love northern Italy, especially the area around the Italian Lakes. Lake Orta is my favourite.