eating vegan in costa rica

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Wow. Holy shit. It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog (oops). In my defense, a lot has happened since December–I went home (Costa Rica) for the holidays, panicked about a number of things, finally decided to fully commit to veganism (basically I had an existential crisis for a good month or two after watching Cowspiracy, but I can save this story for another day, if I ever feel like writing such a post), we adopted a second dog (Wall-E!) who is now Simba’s BFFL (sorry Poncho…), I got worms (it was pretty revolting), lost said worms (phew), school started back up, I invested in my best friend’s business (this feels very grown up to say), etc. However, not in my defense–I honestly haven’t written much because I’m so self-conscious about my writing. It’s bad (you know, considering my number one dream in life–beyond health and happiness and owning 73 dogs and all that–is to have a novel published someday).

ANYWAY.

So I thought, since this is something that’s been on my mind so much lately, I’d write up a post on what to eat in Costa Rica (and probably any other Central American country, actually) as a vegan. I think it’s amazing that you can still partake in the local culture, customs, and cuisine without having to compromise your values (if, you know, one of your values is veganism). Granted, Costa Rica is not quite a “travel” destination for me as that is where I lived for most of my life, but I know it’s quite a popular spot for other travelers, backpackers, yogis, vegans, etc. So hopefully this is helpful!

Also, p.s., “vegan” does not mean “healthy.” A lot of this shit is fried. But you should eat it anyway, because it’s delicious, and dammit you’re on vacation.

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#1 FRUIT!!!

The thing I miss the most when I’m away from home (other than my family, obviously) is Costa Rican tropical fruit. Oh my God. Fresh mangoes, watermelon, pineapple, and papaya (!!), especially. Mostly because papaya is like a digestive miracle. And it’s delicious.

#2 GALLO PINTO

Lucky for me the most Costa Rican staple meal of all staple meals, gallo pinto (Costa Rican rice and beans) is delicious and vegan. The other day I was craving it so bad that I even looked up a recipe. Unfortunately the stupid recipe suggested I use vegetarian Worcestershire sauce instead of Salsa Lizano, which, no. Everybody knows gallo pinto isn’t gallo pinto without Salsa Lizano.

Also, I looked in my pantry and I was out of black beans, so…no gallo pinto for me.

#3 JUICE

Tamarindo juice (according to my very not-extensive Wikipedia research, tamarind is apparently a legume? Huh, who knew), cas juice (cas guava?), mango juice, strawberry batidos (if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant or avoiding dairy for whatever reason, make sure it’s “en agua” and not “en leche”…by the way the strawberries on the way up/down from the Poas volcano are bomb), etc.

#4 PATACONES

Also known as tostones in some other countries. These are fried plantain patties. Often dipped in refried black beans (mmm). Or guacamole. Which I can’t have because I am allergic to avocado.

#5 YUCCA FRIES

Yucca root is similar to potatoes, I guess. These are hands-down my favorite kind of fries, ever. I love them even more than sweet potato fries and that’s saying a whole lot.

#6 PLANTAIN CHIPS AND YUCCA CHIPS

The ultimate road trip food, in my opinion.

#7 REFRIED BLACK BEANS

Whyyyyyyy does no one seem to believe in refried BLACK beans in the US? They’re so good. So good. I guess I could make my own but that sounds like a pain in the ass at the moment…

#8 PEJIBAYES

Apparently it’s a fruit (who knew, I thought they were a vegetable). Apparently it’s called peach palm in English. Apparently you obviously really need to try it if you ever find yourself in Costa Rica.

#9 BLACK BEAN SOUP

Exactly what it sounds like.

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#10 AGUA DE PIPA/COCONUT WATER

Like from an actual coconut. It’s the best. Any beach you go to, odds are there’ll be a guy with a cart selling agua de pipa.

#11 CASADO VEGETARIANO

Like gallo pinto, pretty much every traditional Costa Rica restaurant will serve casados. Just ask for the vegetarian casado (“casado vegetariano”) and either set the cheese and natilla (custard) on the side or ask them to withhold these. In any case, casados are served like a bunch of side dishes in a big plate, so you can literally eat around any food you don’t want.

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Um, so there you have it. Woohoo. I’m blogging again. This is kind of exciting. I’ll try to keep at it. Maybe my new goal will be to post once a week. That sounds doable. Should I do that? I guess I will do that.