The Best VEG Food in Colombia

Between its delicious street snacks and exquisite 5-star restaurants, Colombia’s got what it takes to satisfy your vegetarian/vegan palate. I had never experienced such delicious and unique tropical flavors. I spent 8 days in Colombia and really enjoyed the local cuisine, from deep-fried arepas to mysterious fruits fresh-off-the-tree.

Veggie people– don’t be deterred! Though Latin cuisine is often associated with pork, the gastronomy of Colombia is vast and you won’t have issues finding great meat-free foods.

I’m asked all the time ‘how’ I travel as a vegetarian, by veg and non-veg people alike — this is how!

Breakfast: 

Traditional breakfast in Colombia is made from the same ingredients as lunch but slightly sweeter. A hearty breakfast is the best way to start your day! (Vegans, all of these dishes can be easily made without cheese or egg, as it often the last ingredient added to the top.).

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Calentado, a traditional breakfast: beans and rice mixed with sweet plantains and a fried egg.
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Cayeye, made from mashed plantains and tomatoes
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Deep fried Arepas, stuffed with cheese or egg, served with yucca fries and sweet pepper jelly
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A sapote fruit– something in between a mango and a pumpkin!

There are a lot of really interesting tropical fruits in Colombia, which I highly recommend!

Lunch: 

I generally prefer to eat street food for lunch that way I maximize the daylight. There’s no shortage of vegetarian and vegan snacks, just follow your nose down any calle in the old city of Cartagena or Bogota.

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Fried plantains with a guacamole-type filling
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Doditos “Little Fingers” can be stuffed with just about anything, usually cheese.
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Carimanoles: Yucca fritters stuffed with cheese
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A typical light lunch in the Rosario islands: coconut rice and platanos
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Vegetarian tapas sampler: Spanish Tortilla (eggs and potatoes), various tostadas and grilled vegetables

 

Dinner: 

There are some really incredible restaurants in Colombia. My personal favorite was Leo, where I had one of the best meals of my life hands-down; an 11-course vegetarian tasting menu made only from locally-sourced ingredients. Most nights though, I opted for something a little more casual!

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The most beautiful salad I have ever consumed (at Leo)
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Vegetable Paella- rice, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and of course, limes.
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Amazing quinoa salad with papaya, blueberries, and kale
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Vegetable rice with fried plantains
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A leaf stuffed with cornmeal, with wild mushroom gravy (at Leo)

Dessert:

Colombia has a wide array of sweets, and they are all worth sampling! Many are coconut, sugar, fruit or nut-based and vegan. Many are flavored with natural herbs and spices. It was really interesting trying each one, you really never know what you’re going to get!

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A variety of local coconut and sugar-based sweets
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Can’t go wrong with churros!
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Fruity sweets and pralines at a Bogota confectionary
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Grandma’s traditional comfort food: Hot Chocolate and Cheese

I really didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know anything about Colombian food. I was really happily surprised by the cuisine, and service everywhere was great. Cities like Bogota and Cartagena also have a large international food scene if you get sick of the traditional food– but I have a feeling you won’t!

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