For those of you who don’t know, I have been vegetarian for 7 years, bordering vegan for the last six months. I am vegetarian because of my convictions, pseudo-vegan because of my food sensitivities. Based on my travels in Central America, I was not expecting to have that difficult of a time finding food that had substance and was vegan. For the first 3 days in Lima, I was wrong.
During the first half of the trip, many of the restaurants we went to did not have vegetarian options. On the first day, we ate a little bodega and I ordered a vegetable tortilla; I did not realize until my food came that South American tortillas are like omelettes. When I travel, I am relatively flexible when it comes to eating, as I know how hard it is to accommodate all of my food restrictions. I ate my tortilla, but because I have an egg sensitivity, I was sick the rest of the day. The next meals consisted of salad and white rice or appetizers that were very heavy with fast-burning carbs, such as bread. I could not order meals that had cheese, as I am lactose intolerant, so I was very limited in most restaurants. I was starving for what felt like 3 days straight.
This changed about half-way through the trip. On Tuesday night, I was walking from the convention center in Miraflores, Lima (I was in Peru for a conference), and happened to walk past a vegetarian restaurant called El Jardín de Jazmín. I made note that I was going to go to that restaurant during Wednesday’s lunch break, even if I had to go by myself. On Wednesday, I announced to my friends that I was headed to this vegetarian restaurant and that they were welcome to join me if they’d like. They all did, and we ended up discovering a hidden gem.
The entire menu is vegetarian, with many of the options being vegan. For lunch, I tried mushroom ceviche and split a black bean burger with a friend. The menu also offers a wide variety of homemade lemonades, teas, and craft beers. The lunch menu is extensive, offering a large number of veggie burgers, tacos, appetizers, and salads. All of my non-veggie friends enjoyed their meals and commented that they would be willing to return to the restaurant later in the week. For the first time in 3 days, I felt full and my energy had returned.
My options seemed to improve at non-vegetarian restaurants throughout the week, where I ate vegetable fajitas, or other vegetable-based rice dishes. However, we did return to El Jardín one more night for dinner. This time, I ordered a garbanzo bean burger that was as delicious as the meal I had earlier in the week. I was so happy to have found a restaurant with unlimited menu options, as that is not common for vegetarians to find when they go out to eat.
Despite eating at El Jardín twice during my travels, it was not the only vegetarian restaurant that I found. In the Miraflores district, I found three other vegetarian/vegan restaurants. They are: BioLeben (located on Alcanflores), La Chakra (Located on Avenida Juan Pardo), and Bircher Benner (Located on Avenida Larco). I did not have time to try these restaurants, as I was limited by conference activities, but they all have good reviews on TripAdvisor. La Chakra and Bircher Benner are located near the Pariwana Hostel, a popular hostel in Miraflores. All of these restaurants are within a 15 minute walk from Parque Kennedy in the Miraflores district, so are convenient if you are staying in that area!