You really want to visit Vis Island, you've heard all about the untouched beauty and history in this part of Croatia. You're excited about the potential kayak and biking opportunities and spending time exploring the islands coastline ... but you have a concern. You love food and eating out but you don’t eat meat. For even more controversy, on a small island that has such a strong fishing identity, you won’t eat fish. To take it to the next level of confusion while potentially wanting to visit a Dalmatian Island, you don’t even want cheese or eggs in your life. Are you mad to still consider visiting Vis Island? Will you be forced to consider a cabbage salad as a main meal.? We don’t think so, in fact we now know there are now some great vegan options...
We hope we can offer you some choices, options that we think give you even more reason to come and visit the island. Being vegan is something you can now confidently announce at a restaurant without causing a panicked reaction. There will be many reasons why you will fall in love with this special Croatian Island, and now being to enjoy a meal will become one of them.
Over the last few years, with an increase in international tourism and a general shift in attitude to adopting a plant based diet, the desire to find a vegan meal on Vis has increased. While it’s really important for Vis to maintain traditional dishes that are an essential part of Vis Island’s heritage, there are a now a number of plant based options. While on holiday in Croatia you probably want to experience a taste of tradition and sample local produce, but not comprise your lifestyle decisions.
Vis island in the summer has an abundance of produce. Tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines and peppers are the perfect base for many of your food choices. They are fresh and sun ripened in the peak of the summer season. You will find most restaurants will offer grilled vegetables with a splattering of garlic and olive oil. As well as vegetables, the Island has a pick and mix of herbs growing wild. Sage and thyme, particularly on the North West of the Island, Rosemary everywhere, and Oregano within the middle of the Island, (we pick ours close to Plisko Polje) Capers are harvested in May and June, as well as the deliciously flavoursome sea samphire that is locally called 'Motar'. Vis has walnut and almond trees. During Venetian rule the town of Komiža, in the west of Vis Island became the largest carob tree habitat in Dalmatia, The island is also blessed with fig, cherry, plum, lemon, orange, peach, nectarine and olive trees. Producing plant based meals on Vis Island should be easy!
While quite a few of the island restaurants have the standard tomato soup and an option of spaghetti pomodoro, we would like to suggest a few other alternatives.
So what and where should you eat and drink?
This Vis speciality is the perfect June seasonal Island vegan dish . The artichokes are cooked with lots of garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs and broad beans. Our favourite place to eat this Croatian meal is at Kod Paveta. This is a small family run restaurant within Vis town, with a cozy interior and a thoughtful menu. This is not a vegan restaurant, so the non vegans also have the option of choosing from the traditional menu. The service is personalised, and you always get a sense of the care and attention given to producing each meal. They also have a good Island wine selection. We recommend a glass of Senjanovic Opola. This wine producer is based on the East of Vis Island , with the rosé wine being vegan, locally produced and equally important, it tastes great. We also love the red wine, a Plavac grape, rich in island tradition.
A peka is a dish that is cooked in a closed lid pot and then put under the cinder of a fire, where it is slow cooked, combining all the flavours. Within the restaurants, you would traditionally find a fish, octopus or a lamb peka. At Rokis restaurant in Plisko Polje, inland on Vis Island, the Roki family now also serve a vegetable version. This slowed cooked vegetable peka will have seasonal vegetables, often grown in their own organic garden. They even make their own bread to mop up the juices. The Roki family have been producing some of the best wine on Vis for many years. The Rokis Bugava is made from a tradional Vis Island white grape. In our experience a glass of this wine with your meal often quickly become a whole bottle in the summer months at Rokis restaurant!
We can also highly recommend a visit to Lola if you are a couple looking for a romantic chic Vis Island experience. The gardens are beautiful, cocktails are perfect and the ambience is relaxed and intimate. They do a tasting menu and if you ask and book in advance to let them know you are plant based, then they will make sure you will have a vegan 5 course experience. Within this taster menu, we have had the roasted cauliflower with hazelnut and cauliflower puree which is divine! The other restaurant in Vis town that has an option for a vegan meal is Restaurant Boccodoro. This is situated in Kut, the old part of Vis town. In a side street just off the waterfront, the walled garden area of the restaurant is a wonderful place to escape the busy waterfront and drink a glass of Croatian wine. There are a few vegan options on the menu and the chef is also more than willing to adapt things to make sure you enjoy a plant based evening in their restaurant.
If you are looking for a light lunch or more of a tapas evening snack, then look no further than Frutarija on the Vis town waterfront. A beautiful location, lovely music and natural shade from a few old established trees, its the perfect place to watch the boats entering the harbour. For brunch or breakfast at Frutarija you can get a latte with a plant based milk, not very easy to find on Vis. They also have avocados on toast, something that hopefully in the next few years, Vis can proudly claim to have grown locally. This is due to the inspiring and resourceful Pat and John Repanovich, who after years of farming in the US have now started an avocado farm on Vis. Still in its early stages, with 150 trees, it's the largest avocado farm in Croatia. At Frutarija we can also recommend the crushed pea and mint on freshly baked bread as a brunch option and the smoothies are excellent.
The other snack and coffee place in Vis town we would highly recommend is Pranamana. This is on Vis town ‘2nd Street’. This is the local term for the row of businesses that are not on the waterfront. When you visit Pranamana you are always met with a smile. They have plant based cappuccinos and hummus toast for a perfect mid morning snack. Also available are chia puddings and fresh fruit smoothies.
Vis Island has other traditional options that should be sampled when you visit the Island. Hib is a compressed fig cake with rosemary. Traditionally Hib was enjoyed at breakfast, we love it however as a picnic snack during a long kayak trip. Recently we have started to use it as a date replacement in our vegan chocolate cheese cake base.
Before heading to Vis Island you may have a few nights or a day in Split to ease you into a Croatian experience. Split has changed so much over the years with regards to what it has to offer for guests who love food but also love to follow a plant based diet. Our favourite place to have a quick meal before heading on the ferry to the island is Marta's Veggie Fusion. With falafel bowls and black bean burgers, great coffee, raw vegan cakes and excellent service we love to make sure it's an essential part of our Split city visit.
Just recently opened, by the same owner that runs the popular Corto Maltese restaurant near the famous Split fish market, is Pandora GreenBox. This is such a welcome addition to the food options available in Split. It serves, breakfast, lunch and dinner. It has a gorgeous menu and we truly excited to try everything! The setting is a green garden oasis contrasting the busy streets of the old town. The presentation and the service is outstanding, and we really hope it maintains this initial quality for the duration.
We strive to create dishes at WearActive using as much of the seasonal local produce as possible. We serve all our meals at the house with a vegan option, with the occasional Vegetarian dish. We don't cook meat or fish for our guests, much to the bemusement of our neighbours. Keep checking our blog page for our recipe updates and hopefully we have reassured you that you will have a wonderful time visiting Vis Island as a Vegan.