What It's Like to Be Vegan in South America
Those of you who have visited any of the Latino countries already know that these nations love meat more than anything (except maybe soccer). So is it possible to be vegan there? And more importantly, is it enjoyable?
I’ve lived all around Latin America for several years and thanks to that I finally found my wayto eating fresh unprocessed food. The number one reason is simply because the products I used to eat in Europe are either not on the market, or they’re quite hard to get. That means no more eating vegan cheese, yoghurts, sausages, ham, etc. The only product that is quite common is plant-based milk. You can get soy, almond, oatmeal, or coconut milk just like in Europe or U.S.A.
What do I eat?
Since July 2019 I have been living in Peru and I have to admit that it’s my most favorite country to be vegan so far. Imagine the juiciest mangos, creamy avocados, quinoa, sweet potatoes, peanuts, all kinds of locally grown veggies and exotic fruits from the jungle – all that just for a few cents.
There hasn’t been a single day that I wouldn’t eat an avocado and I’ve never seen one that would be rotten either. They cost from $0.30 to $1.00 depending on the size and type! And some of them are truly gigantic!
I prepare a fresh fruit smoothie each morning and on most days I eat rice or quinoa with vegetables. There are many ways to prepare veggie dishes so it doesn’t get boring. I also like to prepare sweet potatoes and add them to my salads. It’s a great ingredient that makes each meal more filling and nutritious.
Dried legumes are also easy to get at any market so each week I soak some of them (chickpeas, beans, lentils) and use them for different meals to get a good amount of a plant-based protein.
TIP: A specialty in Peru is ceviche. The original version is made of raw fish but there’s a delicious vegan version: mushroom ceviche! It’s extremely easy to make and even meat eaters love the taste and texture that resembles fish.
How About Eating Out?
Eating out in a restaurant is usually the major problem for vegans. Places that are popular amongst tourists already have some solid vegetarian and vegan meals, although the variety is still small. If you want to eat in a traditional restaurant, you will most likely end up eating rice with legumes, lettuce and tomato.
Locals often don’t know the difference between “vegan” and “vegetarian”. Some of them even think that chicken and fish are a vegetarian option so make sure to clarify what you can and cannot eat, otherwise you might end up with a piece of meat on your plate.
So is it enjoyable?
My answer is YES! I enjoy being vegan in Latin America, even though I occasionally crave my favorite vegan treats. The most common dish across Latin America – rice with beans, in my opinion, is a yummy and nutritious meal. And I still have a good amount of options to goout and get the veggie specialties I love, such as falafel, pad thai, burger, or pizza. And what I cannot get at a restaurant, I can prepare at home!
In South America you might need more dedication and patience with your diet but you will never end up starving, there’s always a vegan option to be found!
+ budget friendly
+ less processed food
+ buying local products
– lack of vegan products
– very few options to eat out
Are you vegan and have you been to Latin America? Share your experience with us in the comments below!