Hey guys! We hope you’re not following our blog only because we’re cyclists (we’re not, just happen to travel by bikes) but because you like us, you like our journey and you like our message. And our message is not only about letting off fear of going into the unknown but also letting off cruelty.
Travelling if you’re vegan or conscious about your food choices can be intimidating. It’s one of the most common questions we get when we drop that info that we’re vegan (you know, in the first sentence usually). Recently one of our new friends we met on this journey, stopped being vegan because she wanted to experience local culture and street food. She also stated she still doesn’t support mass meat production. This is contradictory unfortunately as guess from where the cheapest meat on the street comes from. And we firmly believe that culture has got different aspects and even though a lot of it happens around food, you still can keep your beliefs and have very authentic local experience.
So we’ve decided to start this new series. We will go through the countries we’ve travelled through on this journey and bring you all the info we’ve gained while being in the country. You may know we enjoy food so much and we don’t have any regrets we keep this journey vegan. For us knowing the local culture can certainly be possible without animal cruelty.
We’ll start with Ecuador that surprised us positively with the vegan choices, not only in local cuisine but also in the supermarkets and we’ve found here a restaurant in Cuenca that overcame every vegan meal we’ve ever eaten.
Vegan in Ecuador – local cuisine
For tasting local cuisine it’s good if you speak some Spanish because apart from big cities, people don’t know what it means. You will need to explain it.
“Yo no como nada de animales – no carne, no pollo, no pescado (for latin Americans, chicken and fish is not meat), no leche, no huevos, no queso.”
Be precise! You can’t expect them to know, the vegan movement is only starting here. Ecuadorian cuisine is very (and I mean very) rich in meet, eggs and diary. But if people truly want to sell you their food, they will be flexible, just be nice and explain again and again
So what can you eat in Ecuador from local cuisine?
- chocho – lupin beans – very nutritious and tasty
- chocolo – special type of corn
- platanos – grilled plantains (type of bananas, green platains are more like potatoes) – yummy snack
- soups! – Ecuadorians can make awesome soups, just specify that you want caldo de vegetales (vegetable broth) and no queso (no cheese)
- menestra de lentejas o frijoles – stew from lentils or beans with arroz (rice)
- and in emergency – papas fritas – french fries
Vegan in Ecuador – home cooking
If you’re staying at the same place longer, we recommend booking an airbnb with kitchen or staying in a hostel that has got one.
If you’re new to airbnb, use our code to save 25£ off your first booking!
Here in Latin America, hostels are not always equipped with kitchen, they are more like guesthouses, so check it before booking.
Your best go to place when planning for home cooking is the local market. Everything is much cheaper than in the supermarket and you can get fresh produce, dried legumes, rice, pasta, quinoa, oats, sugar, nuts, seeds, dried fruit for a bargain… Very cool thing you can buy in Ecuador is pasta de maní – paste made of peanuts, cheap alternative for imported peanut butter in the shops. The other very local thing is machica– flour from toasted barley Ecuadorians use for milk shake kind of drink but we used it in our porridge or we even made French toasts with it. Or for a energy super-snack look for bocadillo – chewy peanut snack glued together by panela (raw cane sugar).
If you’re looking for vegan specific items, we have been pleasantly surprised by the offer in Supermaxi supermarkets. You can find them in all bigger cities and the offer includes several types of tofu, diary free milks and yoghurts, processed meat resembling items that don’t hurt from time to time (and trust me, here you can’t get your hands on them every day), diary free chocolate spread, dehydrated soya. You can’t imagine that celebration when we first came across this in Quito.
Vegan in Ecuador – restaurants
We stayed in Ecuador’s capital for 9 days and very important part of it was food and our comfy airbnb with fully equipped kitchen and friendly owner. We have some tips for you that will make you super satisfied and happy even if you’re not vegan in Ecuador.
Non-profit fully plant based project that supports Ecuadorian animal charity Libera Ecuador. Their Sunday brunch that you should book in advance is the best. You will be served two salty and one sweet plate and with that comes all you can eat buffet with several kinds of bread, sweet and salty spreads, fruit, juice and coffee. All for 14$. The other days we went for a la carte and never were disappointed. Pizza or calzone with vegan cheese, falafel, sushi, bruschettas and mindblowing deserts. Plus their location at Mirador de Guapulo with a view you’ll never forget!
A shop which includes cafeteria where we got really nice vegan sandwiches and juices. You can find it in Quito and Cumbaya.
7 Campanarios Cafe del Ecuador
Coffee place at the main plaza downtown where you can get coffee with diary free milk as well as a selection of vegan cakes. Both kinds we tried were delicious. You can also buy specialty coffee here, ground or beans.
Seriously one of best coffees we tried in Latin America. They have diary free milk and offer coffee tastings paired with Pacari chocolate.
Galeria Ecuador Pacari
There’s a cafe as well but the main reason to come here is to taste best chocolate in Ecuador. The selection of options for vegans is never-ending. They’ve got really nice range of dark chocolate (very creamy) paired with local Andean herbs and fruits. Try Andean rose or cedrón. We’ve never tasted better chocolate and we’re both choco and coffee freaks.
Cima Café Bistro
Every day at 11am you can get fresh sourdough bread here. You can also order it in advance to be sure you won’t miss out.
Te Quiero Verde
Bulk goods shop, natural cosmetics, snacks, juices… Stock up on some specialty nuts and fruit you can’t get at regular mercado.
This city in southern Ecuador stole our hearts forever and ever. If there was one city to pick in Latin America, this would be it. We’re still considering it in a longterm ;). European architecture, positive vibes, I got tattoed here, tea room and best restaurant we’ve been to in our “vegan career”.
To truly understand the genius of Paúl and his team we recommend you to try the tasting menu. This is not only great tasting plant based cuisine but it looks like in Michelin star restaurant and it’s based on local tradition. Like ceviche with tomato and passionfruit juice. We truly admire what Paul has created here and he’s been our greatest inspiration in our vegan cooking. If you have time to visit only one place in Cuenca, this is it!
Cute place, fully vegan. Salty and sweet waffles, breakfasts, sandwiches and awesome ice-cream.
One of the two Indian restaurants we went to in Cuenca and this is the winner. In three people we tried 5 dishes accompanied by garlic naan and it was all fantastic.
Cafe de Nucallacta
Coffee place where you buy specialty coffee, they have diary free milk, pumpkin spice latte!! and we came also for breakfast. Really tasty.
Tosta Gastro Pub
Very good sourdough bread, I got this tip from my tattoo artist as it’s his sister and didn’t regret going there!
Télicioso tea room
Real tearoom, we felt like back in England. Good quality loose tea, specialty coffee and they make their own oats milk.
Vilcabamba – United Falafel Org
Really tasy falafel and hoummus.
Salinas – Pizzeria next to Hostal La Minga
Very good pizza – dough and topping but they unfortunately didn’t understand that parmesan is cheese too. We asked for pizza without cheese and it came sprinkled with parmesan.
We hope you’ve found this article how to be vegan in Ecuador interesting and helpful. And if you’re vegan and worry about travels, always remind yourself what your reason was to stop eating animal products. It will help you get back on the track!