Three tips for vegans visiting Cuba
By Meagan Patroni
Beans, rice and organic fruit and vegetables, Cuba could be a vegan’s dream destination. Unfortunately with chronic food insecurity, it can be a little tricky for vegans visiting Cuba. When meat is available, Cubans will use all of it, making meat-free dishes a little hard to find. Here’s three tips to help.
Explain that you’re vegan
It helps to inform and support future vegan travellers and Cubans. When I visited Cuba in February 2018, I got a lot of strange looks when I said I was vegan. Just a year later there are more vegan options – as clever Cubans cash in on the green dollar.
Simply say; “Soy vegano” – and you can clarify you don’t eat any animal products; “Yo no comer producto animal” – “sin quesso, sin leche, sin carne, sin pescado, sin huevos – nada product de animal gracias.”
Take your own food, and shop and cook whenever you can
You will be able to find the most amazing tropical fruits (mangoes are in season from March until October, and in stores you will likely find rice, garbanzo (chick peas), red beans, black beans.
Tomatoes, carrot, cabbage are year round. You will enjoy the most incredible avocados from around May/June until October.
You can often find pumpkin and root vegetables. These can be hard to cook unless you have access to a pressure cooker … so check with your casa particular owner before you buy.
If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort – you will have plenty of choice for beans, salad, bread and rice – but check with the chef if they have used pork in the black bean soup or black bean rice.
If you can’t cook for yourself, your casa hosts will likely make you an incredible bean soup
Just be sure to give them plenty of notice that you would like your meals in the casa and clarify – “sin carne, por favor.” You could also fill up on fried banana – way better than chips, especially with tomato sauce.
Have fun vegan friends – and take your own spices and sauces because Cuban food can be pretty bland.
Do you have any tips for vegans visiting Cuba? Want more tips on visiting Cuba in 2019? Click here.