eating vegan in costa rica


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


The ultimate road trip food, in my opinion.


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…


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.


Exactly what it sounds like.



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.


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.


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.

so this is me starting a travel blog, and saying hi


Hey hey. I’m really bad at introductions. Whenever I have to introduce myself anywhere, I usually say something like “my name’s Debbie and I’ve lived many lives” (true) or “I’m from Florida” (absolutely blatantly untrue but the real answer to “where are you from?” usually warrants a conversation, and sometimes I don’t feel like having such a conversation, particularly while in Ubers…).

So hello to everybody who is not reading this blog (because why would you be reading this blog?): my name is Debbie, I’m in my mid-twenties, I’ve lived many lives (it’s not as interesting as it sounds), and I’m most definitely not from Florida. At all.


Today my friend asked me, “What are you gonna do with your tax refund?” (I promise we talk about way more interesting things than tax refunds…in fact, this is the first time we’ve ever talked about tax refunds ever), to which I said, “Travel!”

Because, duh.

Then I decided I should start a blog about my travels, which I’ve been meaning to do for over two years now (I was in the middle of a super awesome backpacking trip through the Mediterranean then, and I scribbled all these great ideas for blog posts on a napkin, and then the stewardess said, “Any trash I can take from you?” and like the moron that I am I gave her the napkin, so that blog never happened). But right now I’m stuck at the Denver airport with three years to kill (just kidding, three hours), and there’s no better time than the present, right?

I love to travel. I’ve traveled since I was a kid (in fact, I boarded my first plane at about a month old or so…from Costa Rica, where I was born, to Israel, where my parents lived at the time). Depending on who I’m talking to, I’ve traveled lots of places, or I’ve traveled nowhere at all, really (because some people–most people–are way cooler than me). I’m really lucky to have been to all the places I’ve been, though, and I’m also really, really lucky that I have the opportunity to continue to travel, and I plan on doing it for the rest of my life.

So. Yeah.

A little bit more about me: I’m currently an MFA in Creative Writing student at the University of San Francisco, I’ve lived in quite a few places (San Francisco being my favorite, thus far, at least in the U.S., despite the astronomical rent), I have a really expensive hobby–silversmithing (that means I make jewelry), trampoline parks are my happy place (former gymnast here…that’s one of my past lives…the other one is when I was a Soviet spy…just kidding, that one never happened, although I did have a dream about it when I was like six, which makes me think it totally happened in a past life, because what the hell would a six-year-old know about Soviet spies?), my boyfriend’s hair is currently longer than mine, I have a tattoo of an elephant on my thigh (I have three tattoos, but that one’s my favorite), I’m obsessed with turquoise (the stone, not the color, but I also like the color), I’ve written two novels to date and I dream of having one published someday, I’m intolerant to lettuce (really), I try my hardest to eat a plant-based diet but sometimes when I travel I break that rule, and my dog Simba is my raison d’etre.


Every time I travel without him, I spend the first two to three days crying about Simba. Then I sort of get over it but every time I see a dog, like it doesn’t matter if it’s a giant dog like a Saint Bernard, I’m all like, OHMYGAHD look at that SIMBA! (Simba’s like eight pounds, guys). And then I hear crickets from everyone else because Simba looks nothing like a Saint Bernard.

Wow, this was the longest “about” page ever. To wrap it up: my name’s Debbie, I like to travel, and I’m obsessed with my dog Simba.

The end.