Travelling to Madeira Island whilst being vegan or vegetarian some years ago would have been quite challenging. But things have changed, and with more digital nomads and ex-pats coming to the island, local hospitality entrepreneurs have created exciting plant-based restaurants and food delivery businesses.
Traditional restaurants have also made an effort to diversify their options (where once being a vegetarian meant feeding yourself all day long with "bolo do caco" - a delicious local sweet potato bread served with garlic butter).
Is Madeira welcoming to vegetarians?
Although we can't say Madeira is the most accessible place to find exclusive vegan or vegetarian restaurants, the island offers you great vegetables and fruits grown in its fertile soil and subtropical climate. Here you will find some of the most exotic tasty veggies in Europe.
Even in the most traditional restaurants, you will find at least one option that suits your needs: fried maize meal, sweet potatoes, rice, vegetables, tomato and onion soup, salads (normally rough-cut tomato, lettuce, cucumber and onion), bolo do caco, french fries and delicious fresh fruits.
However, it is best to inquire each time of ingredients used, especially when it comes to sauces, to ensure no meat is involved. Lupins, olives and peanuts are also typical treats served with drinks in any bar or restaurant at no additional cost: this is referred to in Madeira as a "dentinho".
Nevertheless, suppose you are vegan or vegetarian, and you want to avoid having to eat only the main dishes' 'sides'. In that case, this blog post guide will be your best friend during your stay in Madeira.
Vegan and Vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Funchal
Suppose you are looking for vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Madeira's main city. In that case, these are some of the options we have curated for you:
Established in 2019, this exclusive vegan restaurant offers various hot and cold dishes, from breakfast options to generous salads, burgers and risotto. Fresh juices, smoothies and desserts are a must.
Adress: R. Velha da Ajuda 2, Funchal, Portugal, 9000-115
This is a franchised organic chain store spread all over Madeira that sells veggie and vegan goodies and has a restaurant full of cruelty-free options.
Adress: R. Queimada Cima 31, 9000-065 Funchal
Contact: +351-291 229 262
Art Food Corner
A must go newbie in Funchal; this cosy arty spot was created by ex-pats living in Madeira to uplift the local culture and art&crafts. Here you will find a healthy menu mainly offering vegetarian options. Most of them can be adapted for vegans—a highlight for the hummus or avocado toast, açaí bowl and chia pudding.
Address: Rua D.Carlos I, 20 (4043,32 km) 9060-051 Funchal
Contact: +351-926 958 440
If you are looking into having a chef-like experience, this is the place to go. Olives offer not only vegetarian dishes but also has vegan options. With an English speaking chef/owner, this is a must-go restaurant where you will find plant-based engaging food experiences tailored also made if you are into gluten or dairy-free meals. They also have vegan wines available.
Address: Rua da Carreira nº116 , 9000-042 Funchal
Contact: +351-291 601 278
Santa Maria Restaurant
Located in the charismatic old town in Funchal, this hostel, bar and restaurant are claimed by many as the place where you will find the best vegetarian and vegan sushi for a fair price. They also have grilled mango and vegan pizza. Their staff are familiar with veganism and will help you adapt other dishes you may like.
Address: Rua de Santa Maria, Nº145, 9060-291 Funchal
Contact: +351-291 649 125
Located in the same street as Olives, Prima Caju is the kind of place where you feel cosy and healthy from the moment you enter the door. Here you will find delicious vegetarian and vegan bowls, fresh and delicious ingredients with vibrant colours.
Address: Rua da Carreira n.º108, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
Contact: +351-291 106 600
Vegan and Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants across the Island
Plant-based restaurant options on the island are no longer restricted to Funchal. Here are some of the spots we recommend around the island.
Located in the charming town of Santa Cruz, just next to the airport, this is a lovely healthy food restaurant that offers tasty vegetarian and vegan meals for a fair price. Here you will find every day a new "Prato-do-dia" (dish of the day) as well as delicious snacks, quiches and desserts.
Address: R. das Rosas, 9100-167 Santa Cruz
Contact: +351-291 635 404
Ayurveda Center by Birgit Moukom
This is a well known international Ayurveda Cure Center with a restaurant that serves vegetarian and vegan meals under the traditional Ayurveda medicine. Food for healing with tailored made meals freshly prepared every day. Better to book in advance.
Address: R. Dom Francisco Santana, 9125-909 Caniço
Contact: +351-291 930948
The Old Pharmacy
A traditional pharmacy turned into a charming and cosy dining atmosphere located in the heart of the so-called digital nomad village - Ponta do Sol. If you are a digital nomad living in Ponta or just driving by, don't miss the opportunity to have lunch in this restaurant. They always have a vegetarian option.
Address: Rua Dr João Augusto Teixeira nº 23 (31,78 km) 9360-215 Ponta do Sol
Contact: +351 927 793 866
Maktub Paúl do Mar
Maktub is a quiet thriving oasis on the island's south coast with some reggae vibes and drinks. They have vegan/vegetarian options with lovely staff and a chilled atmosphere. Expect one of the most beautiful sunsets on the island.
Address: Av dos pescadores paulenses n 160/162 (44,41 km) 9370-545 Paul do Mar
Contact: +351915 860 898
Overall, as you can see, there are plenty of options for vegan/vegetarian restaurants. A good tip is to download the Happy app Cow if you haven't yet. It's very helpful!
Plant-based home delivery and take way in Madeira
These are exciting times for vegans and vegetarians in Madeira as every day, new brands and projects are appearing.
À Paisana Vegan Cheeses
À Paisana came to be after its creator's sudden return to Madeira Island, her hometown. And yes, this is another "covid story". She started selling her product in November 2020, but this is not cheese per se. It is a cashew or almond cream, fermented with vegan cultures and seasoned with different ingredients like truffle oil, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, etc. She even has one with active charcoal, named The Islander, in honour of Madeira and its volcanic past. This one's cured for 2-4 weeks. Feel free to drop her a message on Instagram and make an order.
Vegan Take Away 100% Organic
Cook organic plant-based food without any animal-based ingredient is their mission. Meals are healthy, homemade with love. They deliver lunch in Funchal to your office, home or any other place in the town, as well as vegan birthday cakes. Feel free to order via their Facebook Page.
O Mundo do Salvador
A fully vegan business where you can order meals via their Facebook page and have them delivered. They cook vegetarian, vegan and macrobiotic food. Inclusive gluten, lactose and sugar-free kitchen style.
Where to buy vegan/vegetarian goodies in Madeira?
Although all leading supermarket chains in Madeira have a designated shelf for healthy products, there are indeed some shops where you can find those more specific products to make your plant-based life easier.
As mentioned before, Bioform is spread all over the island, where you will find various products. Madeira Supremo - a health and food company-is where you can find dried fruits and other healthy products at a reasonable price. Celeiro and Bio-logos are also a must-go, both located in Funchal.
And while driving around the island, especially during the weekend, don't miss the opportunity to buy the fruits and veggies sold by the road directly from Madeiran producers.