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From the Field, General, Travel & Culture

A Vegan’s Guide to Volunteering in Peru

November 12th 2021

Tagged: Food, Sustainable Travel, tourism, Travel, Volunteering Abroad

With its diverse landscape and rich history, it’s not hard to see why many people choose to volunteer in Peru. Another appealing aspect is the mouthwatering cuisine. However, many staple Peruvian dishes often contain animal products. So, what should you do if you’re considering volunteering in Peru as a vegan?

Picarones peruvian dessertVolunteer in Peru | WorkingAbroad

Traditional Vegan Peruvian Dishes

Although animal products are central in many Peruvian dishes, luckily, so are vegan ingredients such as corn, potatoes, quinoa, beans and rice. These staple ingredients in Peruvian cuisine are not only vegan but also some of the healthiest foods on the planet. For example, the Peruvian dish Sopa de Habas is a bean soup with onions, garlic and often tomato and yellow potatoes. This delicious dish is incredibly nutritious and packed with protein. Although the staple ingredients are vegan, always make sure to double-check when dining out as sometimes eggs, meat or chicken stock may be added.

Another typical Peruvian vegan recipe called Tacu-Tacu was originally created to use up leftover rice and beans in a rather creative way. The rice and cooked beans are mixed together and fried in a frying pan in order to create a patty. However, this dish is often served with other non-vegan leftovers such as meat or eggs. Therefore, as with the previous dish, when dining out make sure to check with your server. If meat or eggs are served, you could always ask your server to make the dish without the animal products.

Although, there may be a language barrier if you do not speak Spanish. To ask if the dish contains animal products you could say, for example, “La sopa de habas contiene productos animales?”. To tell the server that you are vegan you can say, “Yo soy vegano/a”. Finally, to ask for the dish without the animal products, after explaining that you are vegan you could ask, “Es posible hacer este plato sin los productos animales?”.

Peru even offers vegan sweet treats such as Picarones. These are Peruvian doughnuts in which the key ingredients are pumpkin and sweet potato.

Weekly dinner with studentsVolunteer Peru | Learn Spanish | Working AbroadVegan Restaurants

Still, struggling to find a vegan option on the menu in Peru? No need to worry! There are also plenty of vegan restaurants in Peru, in particular in the city of Cusco. First up, we have Green Point who create delicious vegan Peruvian food and have a bakery in which you can find a selection of vegan desserts and snacks. They even offer vegan cooking classes!

Next up, we have The Vegan Temple which offers something a bit different as it serves a mixture of cuisines from pizza to tofu dishes, burgers to brownies. It also offers free delivery to anyone in Cusco’s historic centre.

Although not a 100% vegan restaurant, Organika is also a great option for both vegans and vegetarians. As the name suggests, this is an organic restaurant that uses natural, homegrown ingredients. This is a great option if you are looking for some healthy vegan food while you are travelling.

HappyCow is an excellent app to use when looking for vegan food abroad, you can head over to the website to discover more vegan restaurants all over Peru.

Travelling Prepared

Another tip for eating well as a vegan when travelling Peru is to come prepared and bring snacks with you from home if you can. Some good snacks to bring which should fill you up and can easily be taken on the plane are vegan protein bars, nuts, dried fruit and seeds. Whenever I am travelling, for example, I usually try to take a packet of vegan protein bars with me, some dried apricots, almonds and dark chocolate. Although, of course, this depends on how much luggage you are able to take with you and what space you have to bring extras.

Another option, is to stock up on vegan Peruvian snacks once you arrive, of which there are plenty! Firstly, a great snack that you can find in any country that is guaranteed to be vegan is fruit.

Plaza de Armas CuscoVolunteer Peru | Learn Spanish | Working Abroad

Here are some typical Peruvian fruits to look out for. Aguaje is a rainforest fruit known to taste similar to a carrot. Camu Camu is famous for containing the highest concentration of vitamin C of any known food source on earth. Therefore, it is excellent for vegans to consume after eating any dishes high in iron such as bean dishes. Iron absorption can be more difficult for vegans and eating foods high in vitamin c helps aid iron absorption. Granadilla is also a delicious fruit to try when in Peru, it has a similar taste to passion fruit. A great place to try the many unique, fresh fruits Peru has to offer is Mercado Central de San Pedro in Cusco.

Moreover, many Peruvian side dishes and snacks are naturally 100% vegan such as patacones (fried plantains), cancha salada (a special corn variety roasted in oil and salted) and habas saladas (broad beans fried in oil and salted)

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you can see that volunteering abroad in Peru as a vegan may be easier than you thought! WorkingAbroad offers the opportunity to volunteer in Peru ethically and responsibly in the ancient city of Cusco through our Community Development Volunteer Project. During this project, volunteers can help to contribute to important community initiatives and conservation projects whilst also improving their Spanish skills and exploring the city in the evenings and weekends.

Written by WorkingAbroad Blogger, Sam McMurray

About the Author

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