Vegan in Ecuador – a travelling guide

Vegan in Ecuador – a travelling guide

posted in: Tips and guides | 6

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

These are lupins that produce delicious beans – chochos

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.

TandanaEl Restaurante Activista

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!

Superfoods Ecuador

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”.

Café Libre

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!

Zatua Miski

Cute place, fully vegan. Salty and sweet waffles, breakfasts, sandwiches and awesome ice-cream.

Namaste Indian

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.

It's easy in Cuenca to be vegan in Ecuador. Girl sitting in front of the tea room with her two dogs and tea.

Other towns

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.

How did we start this journey? Vegans or not?

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!

Vegan in Ecuador. Pig slaughter happening in the background.
Pig slaughter that started 4am next to the community centre we were sleeping at, if you weren’t vegan yet, you would be after his horrible screaming
Follow Luba Lapsanska:

Older woman, 33 years old, experienced. She stopped being a doctor and started being a traveller. She likes animals more than people because they don't lie. She also likes looking at the the world through the viewfinder of her camera.

6 Responses

  1. Wow sounds like we missed a few good restaurants in Ecuador. As you know I also started eating animal products again on this trip after more than ten years as a vegetarian and six eating vegan food. I really do think that I would miss an essential part of my trip by not tasting some of the local cooking and it has been as difficult finding even interesting vegetarian dishes as I imagined. You’re right that this is contradictory but I have always felt that my choices concerning animal products have been contradictory to some degree since I kept wearing old leather shoes and bought wool products and never cared about the type of glue that sticks the labels to my beer. Everyone draws the line somewhere as long as cruelty free products aren’t a general consensus. On the other hand animal production really is fundamentally different from Europe in many of the countries we passed through. Here in Peru I felt more pain when I discovered a stamp on the eggs we bought in a tiny village than when I tried a Llama steak high in the Puna after we’d been cycling through free-ranging Llama herds for days and I had talked to a herder. So I do think it’s a different choice to make. I still have a lot of respect for you guys keeping it straight!

    • Luba Lapsanska

      Hola Felix! If you missed Cafe Libre in Cuenca, I’d suggest turning your bikes right now and going back :D. On the more serious note. I don’t think still using your old leather shoes is contradictory, I think it’s the most natural thing to do in regards to the environmental consciousness, why would you throw them out if they’re still good? When they fall apart, then there’s a new decision to be made and it’s hard to discuss what’s better for the planet, if synthetic shoes or leather shoes, I still haven’t made up my mind around this, even though I bought synthetic in Costa Rica. To research what kind of glue is used on your beer sticker – is this even possible to find out? Definitely not here and I think to take it to these extremes, it’s not the purpose of the article. The purpose of the article is to show the people the choices we actually did have in Ecuador while keeping it cruelty free. To show them you CAN enjoy yourself without causing harm. Let’s talk about local cooking. Old grandma in a small house in Peru where we asked about camping invited us for potato soup, coffee and bread. There was no single bite of meat, we didn’t have to explain anything, it came automatically like this. I find this local cooking enough, definitely better than any lomo saltado in the restaurant. Same things happened to us in Colombia. I don’t think tasting a steak from a llama does make any huge harm to the animals overall or environment. You tasted it, you saw the llamas free and you’re happy with your choice. Let’s say it’s one time occasion. BUT! What’s more common is boring pollo with rice and salad, tasteless and bland as we know from other travellers who, after we cooked for them, concluded they finally ate something good in Peru. I think forgetting your previous life just because you’re travelling, ESPECIALLY as you’re travelling and you see things, raw and uncovered, from your bike, is minimally strange. Don’t tell me the pigs tied on a short rope do have any life. They are not in factories? and so what? they still can’t move, they’re grilling all day in the sun and people consider them a commodity, not alive being. This is the same here as in “western countries” but on different scale. The only ones who may have a better life are the chickens who run around. But do you think it’s enough chickens for the pollerias that sell tens of chickens per day. Where do you think they get them? The cows are grazing in national park, wtf? National park covered with cow shit because that’s what matters to them. Profit, not nature protection and definitely not animal lives. This I find even worse than in Europe where there are at least some rules. So let’s not fantasize about these countries, from animal life perspective. The principle is the same. Animals are hurt and they are killed and abused in the same way but maybe not in thousands at a time but tens or hundreds. Your experience with stamped eggs in a tiny village perfectly sums it up actually. Is that really a different choice to make? PS: I completely respect your decision but would like better arguments :))) We can continue here or privately if you want 😉

  2. I met you in San Miguel De Allende 2 winters ago. Just ran into a piece of paper with your blog on it. So glad to see you are still bike traveling. What an awesome adventure. Thank you for saving the little kitten too !!!

  3. Thanks for this awesome blog! In Tena, there’s a restaurant called Tuna Bistro that is vegetarian, but their almuerzo is usually vegan (and they have other options that are vegan). Tena is small and very meat-heavy, unfortunately, but this place is 10/10 — even if you’re not vegan 🙂

  4. I am Ecuatorian, who was living ing in Canada from almost ten years,, my husband and I came back to Ecuador, for the weather and the beach ocean, we are planning to stay . We are here in a small community Santa Marianita south of Manta, for almost a month.
    Is almost 7 am, and today I woke up suddenly at 4;30 am in a horrendous way, Screamming very loud, my two cats were scare, and I realized it was a pig, I could see the fire and smoke nearby, it was a pig slaughter, the most horrendous sound, it was so sad. I am still trying to calm down. I found myself crying deeply and saying loud on the balcony at around 4;30 am “Don’t kill the pig” don’t kill him please” fI was shaking, or sure my voice could be heard everywhere. My husband came to me to hold me and bring me in. it was a nightmare believe me . After that I try to do a meditation, to center myself again. I am still sad, and want to get out of this town right now. I already paid the Airbnb for two more weeks, but I wouldn’t mind to loose that money. But to find a place to go.
    I want to find a civilized place to stay , warm weather, ocean and beach, but with a community who love and respect animals, cruelty free. And mostly where this barbarious episode doesn’t repeat.
    I just found this blog, when I was typing “vegan places in Ecuador” Where to go.
    Is this place out there ?a peaceful place where everywhere lives in harmony?

    • Luba Lapsanska

      Dear Denisse, I’m very sorry about this experience. It totally brought me back to our last morning in Ecuador (south of Vilcabamba) when we also woke up to the screaming of a pig being slaughtered. I guess, it happens everywhere but it’s behind the closed doors of slaughterhouses whereas in small communities in South America, we are (unwillingly) present. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful in finding a peaceful place to live, we’re on the same journey in this… I’d try searching for vegan communities, sanctuaries for animals etc… Sending you a big hug! Luba

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