will find many delicious snacks in Ecuador,
but may need
Vegetarian Food in
food is available in Ecuador, but be cautious. Vegetarianism
is still a fairly new concept in Ecuador, outside of the few
restaurants in tourist areas, and vegans are even more unusual.
A vegetarian dish is
understood to mean without red meat, so you may be given chicken
soups are made with meat or chicken stock, and/or milk - ask if
not sure. Eggs may be fried in
lard if you do not make your vegetarian requirements very clear.
However, with creativity and a bit of Spanish vocabulary,
vegetarians and vegans can eat very well in Ecuador.
vegan dishes in Ecuador include "menestra" -
stewed lentils (lenteja) or
beans (frijol), though you'll have to explain that you
want the beef they are invariably served with, or donate it to a fellow
diner. Menestra is usually also served with rice
and fried plantain, so its a reasonably balanced vegetarian meal.
(huevos) can be
found even in
tiny villages and
can be fried (fritos) or scrambled (revueltos) and served
with rice (arroz) or potato (papa). Add an avocado (aguacate)
tomato (tomate), with
some chilli sauce to cheer it
up, and you have a nutritious vegetarian meal (though probably one you
will eat so many times that you get bored with it, if you spend much
time in small villages in Ecuador).
vegetarian meal rather
high in fat,
but very tasty, is patacones (fried chunks of plantain) with
and salad - a great combination, if you can persuade the restaurant
that you want
them all at the same time. For vegetarian variety, in the
costa you may be able to get "yuca frita" (fried yuca, a bit like
chips) instead of the patacones, or in the sierra, "choclo" (corn on
the cob). In the highlands, one of the best of Ecuador's traditional
dishes, llapingachos (cheesy
potato cakes) make a great vegetarian
you'll find in almost every town will probably do fried rice
(chaulafán) or noodles (tallerines) with vegetables
(verduras), though you need to make it clear you don't want
or prawns as well. They might even have some more
imaginative vegetarian options
if you are
lucky. Tofu is sometimes available in large supermarkets in
cities, and so some Chinese restaurants do serve it, but vegetarians
should not rely on being able to find it.
formal meals can be an effective strategy for vegetarians and vegans,
too prone to stomach problems.
on the cob) with chunks of fresh cheese (queso) is nutritious and often
on buses or on the street in the highlands. Maduro con queso
plantain filled with cheese) is a delicious and filling vegetarian
snack in the
costa. Empanadas (a type of pasty) with cheese or
vegetable fillings are good, though you will want to avoid empanadas de
pollo (chicken). Chochos are soaked and boiled lupin seeds
usually sold with tostado (toasted maize) to eat as
a snack -
packed with protein and minerals, they are very nutritious and a great
standby for vegetarians and vegans.
have a wide variety
roasted and salted peanuts (maní), broad beans (haba), maize
(tostado) and other grains and pulses, such as soy beans or chickpeas.
Carry a penknife, a spoon and a bottle
of water for washing fruit and veg. to open up a variety of healthy and
cheap vegetarian picnic options. Local markets are full of
fruit and vegetables. Avocados are filling and very
nutritious - just cut in half, sprinkle with salt and eat with a spoon.
Top up your vitamin levels with washed and/or peeled
radishes, carrots, tomatoes and cucumber as well as tropical fruit.
Bakeries often sell yoghurt which is handy source of protein.
(It's usually very runny, as it's
intended to be drunk rather than spooned).
lunches (almuerzos) are almost never vegetarian so you will need to
budget more for
food if you are eating out as a vegetarian. Tourist areas in
major cities might have a vegetarian restaurant. Pricey
foreign restaurants (e.g. Thai, Middle Eastern) usually have vegetarian
options though you're likely to be paying $10 or $15 a head.
Indian restauarants can be relied on to have a range of
vegetarian and vegan dishes at more reasonable prices (perhaps $6 to
$8), although there are very few of them in Ecuador - try the Great
India Restaurant on Calama y Juan Leon Mera, in Quito's Mariscal
district, and don't miss the malai kofta.
vegans might find it more
for accommodation with cooking facilities if staying in one place for a
while, especially if travelling in a group. Note that while a
variety of grains and pulses are grown in Ecuador, there is little or
nothing in the way of processed substitutes for meat or dairy.
So, while you will have no problem finding ingredients such as
quinoa, chickpeas (garbanzo), or oats, you are probably on a hiding to
nothing looking for items such as quorn pieces, nut milks or dairy-free
restaurants off the main tourist trail, it is often more productive to
suggest some easy vegetarian meals or simple vegan lunches, rather than
panic them by asking what veggie
you are lucky enough
to stay with a
local family, you'll probably try some of the wide range of
Coladas are comforting hot drinks, usually but not always
sweet and cinnamon-infused,
which are often served in the evening with bread or empanadas.
They can be made
with oats ("avena", runny porridge), quinoa, "morocho" (a kind of
corn), or various different types of flour (e.g. barley
("máchica", or "pinol" when sweetened and
spiced), plantain, pea or
the last being frankly pretty boring). Most coladas contain
shouldn't have too
many diet problems in the Galapagos
Islands as eggs and dairy
are easily available. Do get a written sample menu from your
cruise boat in advance though, as you will be stuck on it with few
may face more of a
the Galapagos and should note that there are many restrictions about
what foods you can take onto the islands - these may include
the nutritious snacks you might have been planning to survive
on. If you are able to find a Galapagos
cruise catering for
vegans, get a
full written description in advance of how they will meet your
nutritional needs and check that their understanding of a vegan diet is
the same as yours.
and can remain fairly chilled about the odd bit of meat having sat next
to their lentils, or chicken stock in the soup, will find eating out in
Ecuador easy, enjoyable and relatively cheap. Stricter
Spanish to a certain extent and
invest some effort to stick
to their vegetarian diet, and their vegetarianism may cost a little
more, but there are plenty of tasty veggie options out there and even a
few vegetarian restaurants in the bigger cities.
vegans are going
to have a
fairly difficult time avoiding malnutrition in Ecuador if
they wish to eat out in company, but it should be possible.
need fairly fluent Spanish to get the concept across.
A homestay is probably more
than hotel restaurants for a vegan diet. Self catering will
resolve the problem completely as you can then enjoy the huge range of
beans, seeds, pulses, grains and vegetables - perhaps even more vegan
than you get at home.
(Bon appetit!) Enjoy your vegan or vegetarian food in Ecuador!
Food in Ecuador
vegetarian restaurants, finding vegetarian dishes in
Ecuador, veggie food
snacks and surviving as a vegetarian or vegan in Ecuador and the