We found Montenegro one of the most difficult Balkan countries in which to be vegan but our struggle to find food was totally worth experiencing the amazing views, gorgeous hikes and scenic drives.
Our journey began with a long wait at the border on a single-lane Bosnian road. With a stamp in our passport, a brochure about Montenegro in our hands and a smile from the border guard, we were officially welcomed to Montenegro for the very first time.
It didn’t take very long to remember why we had included this small country on our Balkan road adventure. When we came upon a scenic overlook of the Kotor Bay with the very popular town of Kotor below us, we couldn’t wait to explore the area.
While the location is beautiful, there is not much in the way of vegan options. So we rented a traditional house high in the mountains through AirBnb, where we could cook every night and eat among lovely scenery.
We also enjoyed the homemade rakia (strong clear spirit traditional to the region) made from the grapes in our host’s own garden.
We bought most of our groceries from Idea Supermarket on E80 just at the roundabout. This road can get very congested in August so we recommend doing shopping in the early morning to avoid traffic and to be able to get a parking space.
We especially enjoyed the fresh local fruit, such as cherries, plums and figs. Making meals with root vegetables was easy as these ingredients were prevalent.
The very tiny town of Zabljak is overrun with tourists every summer for one big reason: it’s the jumping off point for Durmitor National Park. This unbelievably scenic wilderness is quite convincingly considered the roof top of Montenegro!
Being vegan here was not the easiest! Every conversation about food in restaurants and our hotel had to be accompanied with an explanation of what “vegan” means as the term did not seem to be widespread. We were able to get bread and jam, grilled vegetables, potatoes and slices of fresh tomato for breakfast. Not a bad way to start the day, save for the lack of protein. So we added our own peanut butter or handful of nuts to the mix and we were ready to hike around lakes and up mountains!
Lunches were Clif Bars that we brought from home since they were easy to pack and lightweight – perfect for hiking.
Dinners included whatever we could make in our hotel room with what we found at the local grocery store. A visit to Voli brings you to the corner of Njegoševa and Narodnih Heroja (across from the post office where we sent over 20 postcards that no one every received). In the middle of the August vacation rush, navigating this small corner store can overwhelm even the most seasoned of crowd-lovers!
But we DID find vegan food! Crackers, pop-top cans of beans, cereal and nut milks, breads and jams.
Parking is a huge problem in that area so we recommend either biking or walking there if this is an option or if you must drive, travel with two people so the driver can drop the passenger off to do the shopping and then swing back around to pick her up. This is also good as it is one less person inside the packed store.
On a day trip to explore Lake Skadar, where we enjoyed a boat tour, we realized that we were very close to Podgorica and had remembered that Montenegro’s only vegan restaurant was located there in the capital. Being only 15 minutes drive away, we simply had to go for it!
Brza zdrava hrana (Soul Food by Smsom), located at 115 Moskovska, serves healthy vegan dishes influenced by Mediterranean food as well as Western fast food. Their menu included several raw dishes.
We tried the zucchini spaghetti and the za’atar spread on homemade Lebanese bread, which we watched our server make right in front of us! We also tried a couple of their delicious smoothies.
While veganism seems to still be new to this beautiful country, it IS possible to be vegan in Montenegro. And it is totally worth foregoing some comfort vegan items to experience this incredibly gorgeous part of the earth.