More and more people are beginning to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet today and even more people are deciding to incorporate more plant-based meals into their diets. No matter where you are on this spectrum of eating less meat and more foods from plants, you may be wondering if Peru is vegan friendly. From a wide variety of fresh produce and plant-based protein options, not to mention the evolving culinary scene, Peru is becoming a go-to destination for vegan and vegetarian travelers.
There is no place better to experiment with eating more vegetarian or vegan meals or lifestyle than in Peru, largely for the following reasons.
Visiting local markets on a regular basis is great inspiration and one of the best ways to experience a culture. Walking through the market and seeing all the fresh vegetables, fruits and even dried goods is inspiring, making you think of all the delicious possibilities you can create from the available beans, grains, fruits and vegetables. The variety is astounding.
In addition, the local markets and bioferias give you the opportunity to meet locals who are selling the products and to learn more about different fruits and vegetables available, including what’s in season and when to buy.
When visiting or living in a new country, there are always new ingredients to try, and visiting Peru is no different. Favorite everyday ingredients such as habas verde (fava beans), yellow squash (more often than not referred to as pumpkin in Peru), varieties of ajis, camote (sweet potato), potatoes and fresh peas are available virtually year around here. Many of these ingredients appear in classic Peruvian dishes, such as those found in in Solterito Arequipeño (habas verdes, aji and rocoto).
There are also grains such as trigo (a form of wheat similar to wheat berries) and a variety of legumes, such as canary beans, pallares and tarwi. And while some of these may be available outside of Peru they likely aren’t utilized as commonly in other places as they are here.
The fruit in Peru is unbelievable. Even fruits that are accessible back home in the United States, such as mangoes or pineapple, don’t taste as good as they do here. Likely it’s because many of the fruits in Peru are grown locally rather than transported long distances as they are done in the U.S., making them fresher and tastier when consumed closer to harvest.
Also, there are tons of fruits unavailable in widespread amounts in other countries: pitaya (dragon fruit), granadilla, maracuya (passion fruit), different varieties of bananas, tuna (prickly pear or cactus fruit) to name a few.
Some of the fruits such as carambola (starfruit) and camu camu are actually better juiced and consumed as a drink rather than eaten. Peruvians love juicing fruits and creating amazing flavor combinations which you can sample in many markets and jugerias. Or pick up your own fruit combination in the market and make your own.
Many of the foods that originated or are cultivated here in Peru (thanks to the climate) have tremendous nutritional value. And while these ingredients may be available elsewhere beyond the so-called culinary destination of the world, they are often more accessible and less expensive in Peru.
Historically, meat has been front and center in much of Peruvian cuisine. However, as more people (including Peruvians, expats and foreigners) are embracing a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, more meatless options are appearing in the market. It may be more challenging in more remote areas and towns with smaller populations, but restaurants in Lima specializing in this cuisine are readily available.
If you lead a plant-based lifestyle and are wondering if Peru is vegan friendly, consider eating at one of these restaurants to calm your concern.
A great option if you are wanting to try some vegan Peruvian food. The menu includes vegan Peruvian favorites such as ceviche, causa and papa a la huancaina.
Address/Phone: Calle Schell 630, Miraflores Lima, Perú / (01) 719 4174
This small restaurant in Miraflores is run by Chef Santiago Santolalla, who also runs the Plant Based Institute, where you can take vegan cooking classes usually taught in Spanish. The menu includes some of my favorite native ingredients such as tarwi and quinoa and offers authentic vegan Peruvian favorites.
Address/Phone: Calle Grimaldo del Solar 168, Miraflores, Lima, Perú / (01) 747 1827
This chain of cafés is a great place for breakfast, light lunch, snack and even dessert. They have multiple locations around Lima including Miraflores, Santiago de Surco and La Molina.
Address/Phone: Calle Independencia 596, Miraflores Lima Peru/ +51 694 2421; Calle Mariano Odicio 432,Miraflores Lima Peru / 2417696; Calle Los Sauces 511, La Molina, Lima Peru / 3652318; Av. Primavera 1821, Monterrico Surco, Lima Peru / 3447987; Av. Mariscal La Mar 1034, Miraflores, Lima Peru / +5117327636
Peru is a great destination for vegetarians, vegans or anyone who is interested in experimenting with eating less meat. The options for new and exciting ingredients do not disappoint and I am sure you will discover new flavors and foods along the way.
All photos courtesy of Lyn Croyle/CookEatLiveLove