skal = Icelandic for cheers
With fermented shark meat and a cultural charcuterie of puffin, whale meat and sheep’s head, it seemed Iceland would be a vegetarian/vegan unfriendly environment. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to find decent food to eat during my recent trip there. I found at least one vegan option in most eating establishments I encountered. Pizza was a popular item for restaurant dining while many grocery stores and cafés served hummus. I paid a couple of visits to Glō, a restaurant and health food store just off the main tourist and shopping drag of Laugavegur street in central Reykjavik.
The usual vegetarian/vegan travel food tips still apply: bring supplies (i.e. nut butter, protein bars, etc.)! Get some produce and a container of hummus from Bonus, a discount grocery store (perhaps a locally grown pepper from one of the greenhouses powered by geothermal energy). Have with some fresh bread at one of the bakeries (“bakari”). Sandhurst on Langavegur had crackers, delicious grain and seed buns and often a vegetarian sandwich option. There’s also Jói Fel for fresh bread, sweet baked goods and sandwiches.
Behold the kleinur, a local doughnut:
Due to its location and history, Iceland is a meat and seafood centric country with limited vegetable options. Rye bread and flat bread are now staples as well as skyr. This milk product is made with bacterial culture and is reminiscent of yoghurt. It is actually a cheese and puts me in mind of ricotta. It is widely available throughout Iceland and I have even seen a version of it in Whole Foods market in downtown Toronto. Skyr is noted for its health benefits, high protein and calcium content and low, almost negligible level of fat.
Berries and herbs native to Iceland (eg. crowberries and Iceland moss, actually a lichen) are other naturally vegetarian/vegan food items available locally.
Here’s the listing for Reykjavik on Happy Cow: