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Being vegan/ vegetarian in Ecuador

  • por
  • By Neele

For a few years now I´ve been living vegan due to moral and environmental reasons. Of course, I wanted to maintain that as much as possible while staying in Ecuador, with the exception of trying typical dishes that are vegetarian.

In general, it is quite easy to eat a vegetarian diet, as there is a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and legumes available throughout the year. Furthermore, many traditional Ecuadorian dishes are vegetarian, for example Tigrillo, Bolones, Patacones, Cevichocho. The first two dishes are made from plantain and are mixed with cheese and egg. Patacones are deep fried plantains and Cevichocho is a tomato based kind of cold soup with lupines (both my favorites and vegan). 

Especially in Quito, being vegan is not too difficult, if you cook at home and if your host family is open to it. I was lucky that my host mother also loved vegetables, loved trying new recipes and we always cooked fresh and vegan. If you want to eat out, there are a couple of vegan/ vegetarian restaurants and cafés, e.g. in a district called La Floresta or close to it. In some cafés you can also order plant milk. Some of these restaurants offer the typical lunch (almuerzo) for $3,50-5, e.g. Mile Time, Donde Gopal and Apu Wasi. 

Generally, you can buy plant based milk and some other vegan products like tofu in every bigger supermarket (such as Super- and Megamaxi). There’s a soy milk for $1 in an orange plastic bag. The rice milk next to is not vegan, it contains cream. Sometimes the small shops even sell plant milk, but the more expensive brands. I’ve also found some Korean shops where you can get tofu and vegan dumplings. As sweets you can buy all kinds of flavors of Paccari chocolate or the cheaper version of it, the Paccari baking chocolate. 

However, sometimes while traveling it can be a bit tricky. If you go to a food market and ask for something vegetarian or vegan, you’ll most likely get the answer that they don’t have anything. If you ask for something without meat then, they might ask if you eat chicken or fish. To make things easier, you could just ask for a plate of rice and avocado or other vegetables (and maybe an egg). This works most of the time. 

Another thing that´s a bit difficult are bakeries. Most of the time, the bread and pastries are made with milk and/or eggs. I haven’t really found a solution here, but eating it or preparing my own. Sometimes they have baguette which should be without animal products. If in doubt, you could always ask the vendors about the ingredients. 

For me, it has not been a problem to maintain my vegan/vegetarian diet in Ecuador. Especially in Quito and other bigger cities there are more and more options available. Enjoy the (vegetarian) culinary side of Ecuador! 🙂

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