Eating Veg in Lima, Peru

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.

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Garbanzo burger with herbed potatoes

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!