If there’s one thing difficult to cater for in Peru, it’s veganism. There’s no doubt that vegan restaurants are few and far between no matter where you go in the country. Even vegetarian food can be a little tough to find at times.
Peruvians certainly do like their meat. The average Peruvian diet is fairly heavy, rich in grilled or fried meats and carbs. Popular peruvian dishes generally include at least one type of meat; usually being beef, chicken or pork. Some popular dishes are Chicharonnes (pork rinds), Anticuchos (skewered and grilled beef hearts), and spit roast chicken, to name a few.
Alongside your entree dish, you can expect to be served not just one large serving of carbs, but at least two. Generally, you can expect your main dish to be served with a large portion of rice, AND either fried potatoes or fries. Talk about carb overload!
This food is mouth-watering and delicious. However, anything resembling a side of veg is usually only some boiled cancha, and maybe some strips of onion marinated in lime juice. So, you can very well imagine how eating light, and arguably healthy, in Peru can get a little tricky when travelling here for an extended period. Being a vegan or a vegetarian on top of this, can add an extra level of difficulty in attempting to find a good place to eat. Vegetarian friends of mine were at pains in most restaurants, often settling for a bowl of fries and a side salad.
After journeying from Lima to Cusco via the 22 hour bus through the mountains, and after drinking several rich and hoppy beers upon arrival…well at least the non-vegans of the crew (Cusco’s very own Cholo Craft Beer), AND gorging on the amazing desserts at The Meeting Place, my friends and I were desperate to find something healthy to eat.
It turns out Cusco was a pretty great spot to find some tasty, fresh food. There are actually a couple places to choose from. Being the tourist centre of Peru, it seems Cusco has made a real effort to cater to the large backpacking community who arrive in their droves every day from every corner of the globe.
We chose to go to Green Point on Carmen Bajo, which claims to be the only 100% vegan restaurant in Cusco. I can assure you, it was a fabulous choice.
Green Point Restaurant
Green Point, now boasting two locations in the city, is a bustling little hub containing both a restaurant and a shop. They claim their primary objectives are to “change the common perspective of vegan food and show that it can be exciting, delicious and healthy” while bringing about “peace and compassion to the world we live in.” You can’t really argue with that. To me, this sounded like an ideal spot.
The inside of the restaurant reminded me of a busy Italian café. They sell cookies, cakes and vegan ice cream at the door, to catch you when you leave. We were lead through to the garden area, which was laid out a bit like a Spanish-style courtyard. Tables and chairs lined a narrow patio with aligning verandas for upstairs dining. Spanish windows and vines could be seen creeping up the walls.
During lunch times the restaurant serves a three course meal for only 12 soles, with the daily specials altering daily. Naturally, we jumped at the chance of having a large, healthy AND cheap meal all wound into one.
We started ourselves off with their delightful salad buffet, containing light and airy ingredients and homemade breads and dressings. We were then presented with a light miso soup that had a mini spring roll floating in the middle. There is something about miso soup that makes me feel instantly regenerated! It was a great way to start and left plenty of room for the main course.
For our entrees we chose red pepper infused veggie burgers in fresh baked French bread, and spicy wedges with homemade ketchup and mayo. Ok, it wasn’t the healthiest vegan option, but regardless, it was absolutely delicious. Our pallets were overwhelmed by the combination of fresh, organic ingredients crammed into the burger patty!
We finished the meal with one of the vegan cookies from their small shop in the lobby of the restaurant. Like I mentioned before, it was pretty tough to walk through there without purchasing something!
So, if you’re vegan or vegetarian and find yourself in Cusco on Evolve Tour’s ‘Peru School Trip,’ Green Point is a must visit. Not only is it fantastic value for money, but it’s got to be some of the most delicious food in the city!
Alanna Byrne is a writer and NGO coordinator currently living in deepest, darkest Peru. Originally from London, UK, she has traveled from a young age and lived for two years in Toronto. She’s about to embark on more backpacking adventures, first across South America and then onto New Zealand and Australia. When she’s not racing around the world, she can usually be found reading in a quiet corner somewhere or in a crowd listening to loud music. Follow her adventures here: www.awritetoroam.com.
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