Though Peru has enjoyed its rank as the top international culinary destination for over a decade, only in the past few years has vegetarian food in Peru become part of an accepted and understood lifestyle. Vegetarian and even vegan Peruvian food can be found in major cities such as Cusco and Lima, and the bounty of local ingredients can easily be catered to specific diets when cooking at home.
In the following expert guide on where to eat vegetarian food in Peru, we’ve included not only restaurants but also useful phrases to help communicate your dietary needs and restrictions.
SAM Corporations can accommodate a vegetarian food on any tour or trek we offer!
A culinary tour in Peru is one of the most popular experiences to be had while visiting the Andean nation as it has become a gastronomic powerhouse. It has been nearly consecutively ranked by the World Travel Awards as the Leading Culinary Destination since 2012 (losing out to only one other country, Italy, in 2020). With famed traditional dishes such as lomo saltado (stir fried beef), ceviche (classically fish-based), and aji de gallina (a creamy yet slightly spicy shredded chicken) however, what is there to celebrate for vegetarians and vegans living in or traveling to Peru?
Peru in general has become quite conscious of alternative lifestyles and diets, with new generations of chefs and business owners catering to vegetarian and vegan diets. There is a large community of vegetarians and vegans in the country and an equal amount of restaurants willing to accommodate. It’s not to say that you will find a plant based restaurant on every corner nor are they easy to find in rural areas, however, major cities like Lima and Cusco are showing the rest of the country that cooking without meat or animal products is not only possible but popular.
Not to mention, Peru is home to countless superfoods that appeal to plant based diets. A rainbow of some of the healthiest foods is grown along the coast, jungle, and highlands of Peru, including blueberries, avocados, purple corn, and goldenberries. Don’t forget protein-rich pseudo-grains like quinoa and kiwicha, the Inca nut Sacha Inchi and energizing roots like maca.
If dining out in a restaurant that is not strictly vegetarian or vegan, be sure to confirm with the waiter that your dietary restrictions are being met. We’ve included a few useful phrases at the end of this article to help you avoid jeopardizing your health or lifestyle.
Fortunately, the major tourist destinations in Peru have become more and more familiar with vegetarianism and veganism, and restaurants that cater to those who don’t eat animals and animal products have sprung up all over, especially in the capital city, Lima, and Cusco. Not to mention, Sam Corporations has devised a unique list of characteristic vegetarian and vegan restaurants throughout Peru that one can enjoy during their custom Peru luxury tour. Below are a few examples of restaurants and local markets:
As the metropolitan capital of Peru, Lima has numerous restaurants that cater specifically to vegetarian and vegan diets. One of the pioneering plant based restaurants in Peru, Raw Cafe has become a stylish spot for vegan Peruvian food (it even has a variety of raw vegan plates!). From breakfast to dinner, you can fill up with colorful and nutrient-dense bowls, wraps, and smoothies. Raw Cafe is located in Miraflores.
Located in the heart of Miraflores, Veda Restaurant is a dream come true for foodies who avoid animal products, gluten, and added sugars. Vegan paella, tofu stir fry, mushroom ceviche, and causa (a veganized Peruvian potato dish) are standouts, just be sure to leave room for the moist chocolate cake! As opposed to Raw Cafe, Veda is slightly more upscale.
Eating Vegetarian in Top Ranked Restaurants in Lima
Lima is home to numerous world ranked restaurants, such as Central, Kjolle, and Maido. Sam Corporations can help you request a tasting menu that best suits your dietary preferences so that you can still enjoy an exceptional culinary experience.
In Cusco, there are now several restaurants that cater to vegans and vegetarians, including Greens from the outstanding local chain of Cusco Restaurant. A two minute walk from the Plaza de Armas, the organic restaurant welcomes guests into its wood clad dining room from breakfast to dinner. Plant based soups, stir-fries, and curries are also available with animal protein, making Greens an ideal option for mixed-diet travel groups.
For vegan Peruvian food, Green Point is a superb option. Located in the San Blas neighborhood, you can enjoy a plantbased menu in a cozy atmosphere (including outdoor seating). Start your day with a plate of banana pancakes and passion fruit juice or stop by for lunch and fill up with a hearty vegan tacu tacu (a traditional Peruvian dish of rice and beans). The on site shop also offers a variety of other healthy products that include nut butters, organic coconut oil, seedy breads, and all types of smoothies and fruit juices.
The open air markets throughout Peru, like Cusco’s San Pedro Market or Lima’s Surquillo Market, offer a plethora of exotic fruits, veggies, and juice stands. Tantalize your taste buds with produce from all regions of Peru, including lúcuma, cherimoya, aguaymanto, and camu camu, to name just a few. Many of us are aware that the potato originated in Peru, but what may not be common knowledge is that there are over 4000 varieties of this tuber. With a diversity of colors, textures, and flavors, potatoes appear in numerous Peruvian dishes, including vegetarian and vegan Peruvian food.
In Lima, weekend farmers and artisan food markets known as bioferias take place every Saturday and Sunday in neighborhoods like Magdalena del Mar, Surquillo, Miraflores, San Isidro, and Barranco. In addition to organic produce, one can find goat cheese and butter, vegan snacks and desserts, milk and yogurt from “happy” cows, organic chocolate, and heritage Peruvian grains like quinoa, kiwicha, and a large variety of potatoes.
Tip: All major cities and even towns have their local market or a major local market for that matter close to its main square. For one to immerse and see how locals go about buying their ingredients and even for one to learn more about Peru’s grand diversity of products, it is highly recommended to check out these markets as a part of a customized culinary tour in Peru.
Nowadays, vegetarians and vegans shouldn’t have too much trouble finding their way around during their personalized tour in Peru. Below is a list of some helpful phrases to use when you find yourself at a restaurant that does not cater strictly to vegetarians – vegans:
Yo soy vegano/a (I’m a vegan)
Yo soy vegetariano/a (I’m a vegetarian)
Por favor ¿Han preparado este caldo con pollo? (Please, was this broth prepared with chicken?)
Por favor, no puedo comer nada de carne, chancho, pollo, pescado, leche, ni huevo -nada que venga de un animal Please, I can’t eat anything with beef, pork, chicken, fish, milk, or eggs- nothing that comes from an animal…
Looking to travel to Peru and a bit worried about what to eat during your travels? Vegetarian food in Peru and even plant based meals can easily be found, especially with the help of your Sam Corporations expert. Whether you want to take a culinary tour in Peru or dine at top-ranked restaurants, we’ll be by your side to make sure your diet needs are met.
When visiting a culinary powerhouse like Peru, you can still get the most out of its gastronomic wonders without sacrificing your lifestyle or health needs!