Depending on where you plan to stay in Colombia, finding vegan food can either be easy or challenging. Veganism is a relatively new concept in the country, although Colombia's first vegan event was hosted in Bogota in 2017. However, it varies by region whether you will be able to find vegan options or not. In some areas, people may not understand what you mean when you ask for a vegan meal. You may encounter blank stares and questions like, "but fish is okay, right?"
When visiting Cali, it can be difficult to find vegan options, so it's best to stick with rice, beans, plantains, and a small salad. You can also enjoy the abundance of fresh local fruits and veggies, like avocado. Avoid buying pre-cut fruits as they may be rinsed with tap water, which can cause stomach issues. Instead, opt for unopened water bottles or bring a water purifier to avoid buying plastic. Unlike in Mexico, Colombians don't typically cook their beans with meat, and they use oil instead of butter when cooking rice. They use vegetable oil to make tasty plantains, which can be prepared in many delicious ways.
Although we weren't able to explore all of the vegan options in Cali due to staying with family, we did have the chance to eat out a few times. Below are the places we enjoyed, but using Happy Cow is a great resource for finding vegan options in Cali.
El Buen Alimento, located in San Antonio, serves a delicious lentil burger with fries and a variety of fresh juices. However, the only downside was that the meal didn't have much sauce.
If you’re going to Cali, Colombia, chances are that you will want to make your way to this part of town since it’s the most popular. Here you will find the largest area with hostels, booking tours, and a variety of cuisines from around the world. San Antonio has a beautiful hill where you can overlook the city with local hippies selling their art and handmade goods.
If you’re checking out the mall, Unicentro Cali, here are the two restaurants with vegan options. Butacos is a chipotle-style Mexican restaurant with all vegan rice and beans and you can even get fried plantain inside ine burrito as well. At La Patacona, they serve tostada-style plantains with vegetables on top.
Veganos is an all vegan restaurant that has a menu consisting of two lunch options. It comes with soup, rice, plantain, dessert, and your choice of “tuna” or soy protein. This place had the best vegan tuna ever I have ever tried. It was zesty and had a great texture. The meal also always comes with a drink as well.
We hope you enjoyed this little article to give you some ideas on what you can eat while you’re visiting Cali. This area is primarily known for the plethora of meat and cheese options you can find at every corner. So if you’re not vegan, finding food will be no problem! But if you’re vegan, then it’s probably a good idea to brush up on your Spanish so you can say “no queso” at least. 🙂