Vegetarian cuisine in Medellin has taken off, offering locals and tourists alike healthy, fresh, meat-free options at reasonable prices.
It may seem difficult to be a vegetarian in a country where the traditional lunch is a hearty plate full of grilled meat, pork sausages and shredded beef. However, anyone willing to look a bit deeper will discover that a vibrant vegetarian scene has taken root in Colombia’s big cities.
In Medellin alone, there are currently more than 10 vegetarian restaurants. The city’s first vegetarian restaurant was Govinda’s, a buffet style restaurant run by Hare Krishna followers. It opened over 20 years ago, and has since grown to become one of the city’s most loved lunch spots.
The buffet menu offers soup, vegetables, dessert, salad and juice for only COP6,500 ($3.50).
The manager at Govinda’s, Gopal, said in an interview with Colombia Reports that years ago it was a lot more difficult to get Colombians to change their mindset and try vegetarian food, but today many youth and students are interested in experimenting with new ideas and different food.
Situated just a few blocks away from Govindas is a second vegetarian restaurant, aptly named Vegetus, which was the first restaurant in Medellin to offer purely vegan food on its extensive menu. The restaurant, which will celebrate its 3rd birthday next week, aims to teach locals that they can enjoy tasty and healthy meals without consuming animal protein.
Owner Maria Zapata told CR, “The restaurant doesn’t cater only to vegans, but to anyone who wants to eat something different. Everyday more and more people are becoming vegetarians.”
Zapata also believes that vegetarianism is gaining popularity among young people, the restaurant’s main clientele.
Vegetus has an extensive juice bar that caters to specific health problems such as diabetes, indigestion, uric acid and obesity. Zapata personally believes in the health benefits of grapes. She went through a cancer scare years ago and after drinking grape juice for 20 days, she was cured.
They also make a range of home-made ice cream, using rice, oats and soy instead of milk products to create Colombia’s only dairy-free line of ice cream.
Another great downtown option is the Cocina Vegetariana, which offers an inventive menu of the day that includes vegetable dishes resembling meat, soup, salad, fruit and cookies all for only COP8,300 ($4.50).
For more details on vegetarian restaurants in Colombia visit the Happy Cow website.