It’s been ages (literally) since the island has been populated, mainly by fishermen and meat-loving Vikings. Times have changed and as the world evolves, so do our eating habits. And whether it is due to personal beliefs, allergies or disease, the demand for vegetarian food in Iceland has been steadily growing. And lately, it is something we often get asked about by soon-to-be visitors to the island.
So, if you’re someone who eats vegetarian food and is planning on visiting the island soon, or you’re just interested in the subject, read on. Our article will dive into the vegetarian community of Iceland. Here you can find your favorite vegetarian ingredients and where you can enjoy a delicious vegetarian meal.
Is it Easy to be a Vegetarian in Iceland?
Iceland is known for its meaty and fishy traditional cuisine, but as we’ve already mentioned and in the wise words of Bob Dylan “times they are a-changin’”. It is logical to have some concerns as a vegetarian visitor to the island after seeing some of the ingredients of the local food one eats in Iceland. But, actually, it is surprisingly easy to be a vegetarian on the island.
Whether buying groceries or eating out, you’ll find an array of vegetarian options at most stores and restaurants. In fact, you might get quite excited at some of the imaginative combinations our local chefs can come up with when it comes to vegetarian dishes.
Cooking Vegetarian Food in Iceland
Eating out in Iceland is not something you’ll be doing every day and night unless you’re one of the Kardashians or Jeff Bezos. It becomes extremely expensive and is simply not an expense that most visitor budgets can carry.
That’s why many staying in hostels or campervan rentals opt for cooking their vegetarian meals themselves. And even though you may find that produce in Iceland is more expensive than you are used to back home, it’s still not as pricey as the eating out alternative. If you are looking for places to buy ingredients for your vegetarian meal, the following come highly recommended:
- Bonus (not only will you find everything you need, but it’s extremely budget-friendly)
- Netto (the bakery here also offers a wide range of vegetarian and vegan options)
- Vegan Budin (although technically not vegetarian, you’ll still find everything you need here)
As a personal side note, Skyr! Yogurt is not only affordable, but it’s great as a breakfast option and for making sauces. If you enjoy frozen meat substitutes, we recommend a brand called Halsans Kök and the Linda McCartney products.
Vegetarian Restaurants in Iceland
You may not find many vegetarian restaurants in Iceland, but most restaurants have vegetarian options. We have created a list of all our favorite spots, and as most visitors begin their journey in the capital city, that’s where we’ll kick off our list as well.
Vegetarian Restaurants in Reykjavík
If you’re a vegetarian in Reykjavík, the following restaurants offer amazing vegetarian meals:
Glo restaurants can actually be found in a few locations across the island, and one of them is in Reykjavík. It is considered to be one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Reykjavík for a variety of reasons. Although only one of the restaurants is 100% vegan in Iceland.
Glo’s aim is healthy living, which makes their menu a vegetarian’s dream. It comes with numerous delicious options made from organically grown ingredients to choose from. What’s even better is that they operate and are open for 11 hours each day!
Kruska is yet another restaurant in the capital city that focuses on creating tasty and healthy vegetarian food in Reykjavík. Kruska is pretty revered and does the local catering for many events and businesses. They also supply many of the local offices with nutritious lunches.
This restaurant prides itself on clean food made from first-class ingredients. They offer a wide variety of vegetarian dishes and salads. Also, be sure to check out their special daily menu with freshly prepared dishes of the day. Just take note of the fact that they are only open on weekdays.
Okay, so this is not so much a restaurant as it is a food hall. At Hlemmur Mathöll you will find nine different food traders and restaurants under one roof. From Italian pizza and Vietnamese street food to tacos, burritos, and ice cream – the food world is your oyster here.
None of these restaurants are outright vegetarian restaurants. Still, they are known for their delicious vegetarian food in Reykjavík. Most of them also have a few other vegetarian options up their sleeves.
This one is for the sweet tooths among us. When it comes to Eldur+Is we prefer to call it a mandatory stop on your way to viewing Hallgrimskirkja. Here you will find a mind-boggling variety of crêpes with fillings and ice cream.
And lucky for us, they have a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options. As a mandatory stop (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), we see it as our duty to chow down on as many of these delicious treats as our stomachs will allow.
Vegetarian Restaurants Outside Reykjavík
Are you planning on hitting the road and exploring the rest of the island, or are planning on visiting another region of Iceland altogether? The following restaurants outside of Reykjavík are good options when it comes to vegetarian food:
The Soup Company, Vik
Not only does The Soup Company serve absolutely delicious - you guessed it - soups, but it also serves them up in the most innovative and delightful manner imaginable. Combine this fact with the cozy environment of the restaurant, and it’s clear to see why this is considered one of the favorite places to go for vegetarian food in Iceland.
Smidjan Brugghus, Vik
Okay, so when you hear “brewpub famous for burgers, ribs, and hot wings” your first thought isn’t going to vegetarian food, but hear us out. Smidjan Brugghus has a vegan burger that is absolutely to die for!
It consists of a kale and quinoa patty topped with garlic aioli, tomatoes, vegan cheddar, onion rings, and pickles. Do you have any space left after guzzling down that monster? Well, we suggest you tantalize your tastebuds with their peanut butter and porter chocolate mousse as dessert. You can finish off your meal with a couple of locally made cold ones.
Olverk Pizza and Brewery, Hveragerdi
Hveragerdi is just 30 minutes away from the capital city and is a popular spot for those road-tripping the Golden Circle. Olverk is famous for its delicious pizzas, and they always have one permanent vegan pizza on the menu along with a few vegetarian pizzas.
They also have a pizza of the month that often tends to be a vegan or vegetarian pizza. You can wash down your meal with one of the beers from the brewery. Although, we recommend that you buy flights of beer, so you can properly sample the wide variety that is made there.
This one was a tricky call to make because it doubles as a grocery store option and one of the best juice bars in Iceland. Heilsuhusid is not just your average grocery store. They are super focused on health and wellness and have a dedicated vegan department. You can also shop online and have the products delivered to you (within a reasonable distance, of course).
When it comes to the juice bar, you are in for a real treat with fresh-pressed juices and smoothies that will have your toes curling with pleasure. The online shop is open 24/7 with online assistance available whenever you need it. The shop is open Monday to Saturday and only a few hours on a Sunday. The juice bar, on the other hand, is only open Monday to Saturday.
Where to Get Vegetarian Food When on the Road in Iceland
Many will stock up at the grocery store, especially when road-tripping with a campervan. This way, vegetarian options always remain within arm’s reach. Things such as trail mix and pre-made sandwiches also work well when you intend to go on hikes, etc.
If you’re out on a day trip and forgot to pack some munchies for the road, you’ll be glad to know that most gas stations will have some vegetarian options when it comes to snacks and takeaways. Just keep in mind that gas stations become few and far between in the more remote regions of the island. So, you need to grab the opportunity whenever you have it. Some of the gas stations in Iceland that have a shop/café attached to them are:
Need Vegetarian Food in Iceland? No problem!
I think after reading our article, it’s clear to see that finding vegetarian food in Iceland should not be a problem. With a little bit of planning you can have your motorhome rental in Iceland or self-catering unit always stocked up with your favorite ingredients and there are plenty of places where you can treat yourself to a nice vegetarian meal (with dessert, of course!).