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Vegetarian Survival Guide to Bolivia

Posted on | May 24, 2010 | Comments Off on Vegetarian Survival Guide to Bolivia

Article by Melissa Reichwage

Cuisine is an important part of culture that you will not want to miss during a trip to Bolivia. When you imagine the beautiful nation, you probably don’t think of a veg-friendly destination. As with all of South America, you can eat well as a vegetarian, but it does take some research and searching.

There will be mountains full of fruit and vegetables in markets, and there are even a few vegetarian restaurants. If you want to make fresh foods yourself, there will be an abundance of corn, pumpkin, onion, lettuce, melon, and fresh herbs.

As for eating out, ask about ingredients to make sure there is no meat. Aside from mentioning you’re vegetarian, you may want to specify that you don’t eat meat, chicken, ham, fish, etc. This will be much easier if you speak some Spanish. Most Bolivian restaurants have a long menu, with some vegetarian options. One of the easiest places to find vegetarian food in Bolivia is touristy restaurants where you can always get pizza or pasta.

Even Bolivian street food can be vegetarian and vegan if you know what to look for. Street food is hot, cheap, and ready to eat. Try tortas fritas, a delicious wad of deep fried dough. Empanadas are all over the place in Bolivia, often they are made with meat but there are some with just cheese. They are a bit harder to find, but there are vegan empanadas around. For example, carrot and potato empanadas are delicious. Look out for humintas, tasty corn cakes. They are sometimes made with cheese and butter, so beware vegans. Easy snacks such as nuts, raisins, beans, plantain chips, and peanut bars are all over Bolivia in various sizes.

Natural juices and smoothies are very popular in Bolivia, long rows of juice vendors are usually near all the major markets in Bolivia and restaurants also have many juices on their menu. Many women are willing to blend you any combination of fruit, but make sure they use bottled water. A few veg-friendly dishes to look for include:1) Papas Rellenas: mashed potato formed into a ball and stuffed with cheese (or egg or meat) and fried in batter and served with a spicy sauce.2) Humintas: mashed corn and cheese steamed or baked in a corn husk3) Sonso: mashed yucca and cheese served on a stick and cooked over coals4) Masaco: mashed banana and cheese5) Empanadas: pastry with a filling, although meat fillings are common, it is possible to find cheese and onion versions

For other vegetarian dining options look at: