Mountain menus are stereotypically stacked with meat and cheese – but as more people switch to vegan and vegetarian diets, ski resort restaurants are evolving to suit them. Some countries are real stand-outs and others are improving fast, so find out where you should go on your next trip, and what favourite foods to look out for.
Best countries for vegans & vegetarians
The top pick for most people is Italy. It’s one of the best ski destinations in the world for vegetarians because a lot of the traditional meals are naturally meat-free, like pizza, pasta and risotto made with fresh tomatoes, herbs and mozzarella. And many recipes don’t have eggs or dairy either – or can easily be adapted – meaning you’ll still have lots of choice if you’re vegan.
In Austria, 10% of the population are vegetarian – higher than the 6% in the UK – so most resort restaurants have at least a couple of meat and fish-free meals. Take a break from skiing to visit an authentic mountain hut, and try vegetable stews and fruit-filled dumplings made from recipes that have been passed down for generations.
Vegetable dishes are also fairly common in Switzerland. The world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant opened in Zurich in 1898 and is still going strong today, and the ski resorts are just as inclusive. But cheese and chocolate are a big part of the food culture, so you might be a bit more limited if you’re vegan.
Other European countries have come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Resorts in France and Andorra are used to catering to skiers from all over the world – and as the number of plant-based eaters grows, so does the range of food.
Further north, cuisine in places like Norway and Finland has historically been based around hunting and fishing. But more and more locals are switching up their diets, so lots of restaurants are adding vegan and vegetarian options to their menus.
If it’s variety you’re after, you can’t go wrong in the USA or Canada. Resorts there typically have more restaurants with international cuisine like Indian and Japanese, which cater really well to plant-based diets – think vegetable curries and dumplings, and noodles with tofu. And the fact that everyone speaks English might mean it’s easier to chat to the staff about the menu.
Top dishes to look out for
Plenty of must-try mountain dishes are meat or dairy-free, and some restaurants have plant-based versions of classics, including goulash and tartiflette.
And remember, standard recipes might include ingredients not listed on the menu, like meat stock in soup or bacon on a salad, so it’s always worth checking when you order.
Pizza & pasta
A go-to in pretty much any ski resort, pizza can be topped with a huge variety of ingredients. Vegetarian favourites include Margherita (tomato, basil and mozzarella) or quattro formaggio (four cheese), and vegans should try a pizza alla marinara with tomatoes, garlic and oregano. Some doughs do use lard, so ask first if you want to avoid that.
Pasta is just as varied, from vegetable-stuffed ravioli to penne al’arrabiata (a spicy tomato sauce). And vegans can often find egg-free pasta, especially in Italy.
If you eat cheese, fondue and raclette are hard to beat. Rich, melty and totally indulgent, these can be found in ski resorts all over the world and are perfect meals for sharing. Enjoy yours with chunks of bread, potatoes, pickles and fresh green salad.
Over in Austria, you can’t miss käsespätzle, a macaroni cheese-type dish with layers of pasta, grated cheese and caramelised onions.
The humble potato stars in plenty of alpine fare, like Tiroler gröstl in Austria. And this mix of potato, onions and herbs is just as delicious as a plant-based version, without the usual bacon and egg.
In Switzerland, potatoes are grated and fried into crispy cakes called rosti, similar to a hash brown. At lunchtime, find a slopeside restaurant and savour those peak views while you tuck into a rosti topped with onions, mushrooms, spinach or tomatoes.
Most desserts are naturally vegetarian so you should have a pretty wide choice, from Italian tiramisu and gelato to Austrian strudel and kaiserschmarrn (a thick, chopped-up pancake with fruit compote) – not to mention all those flaky French pastries.
Vegans may be a little more limited because a lot of recipes use dairy, but you can often find fruit or sorbet to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Where to stay in ski resorts
Staying self-catering will give you the most control over what you eat, since you can either cook for yourself or just choose restaurants that have vegan or vegetarian options. France generally has the most self-catering accommodation, though apartments and cabins are also common in Norway and Finland.
Half-board hotels are the norm in Austria and Italy. Set yourself up for the day with a breakfast buffet of fruit, yoghurt, porridge, bread and pastries, plus cheese and eggs if you eat them. In the evenings, you can chow down a good variety of salads – from leafy ones to beans, lentils and country-specific favourites like celeriac remoulade in France – followed by vegetable and potato-based main dishes. Everything should be labelled so it’s easy to see what’s what. If dinner is from a set menu, there’s usually at least one vegetarian option each day.
And we’ll mention it on our accommodation pages if a hotel can cater to vegetarians or vegans, so check there and let us know about any dietary requirements when you book.
As well as feasting on resort favourites, you’ll want to make sure you’re picking foods that’ll keep your energy levels up, so take a look at our guide on what to eat when you’re skiing . And you can also try a tipple or two from our a-z of must-try drinks.
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