Peru has been named a top destination for gastronomy by some of the biggest names in the culinary world. Peruvian cuisine has increased in popularity in recent years with influences from all corners of the world, local ingredients of high quality and a capital with two Michelin star restaurants. Eating well will be part of your whole travel experience around Peru, even if you are a vegetarian.
The Peruvian cuisine is the perfect example of fusion, with traditional meals dating back to Inca times, ingredients from Spanish cuisine, and recent influences from Asian cuisine. The local specialities are a mix of tastes, smells and cultures. Anyone opening a menu card in Peru will have many options, from meat and fish to vegetarian dishes.
Tradition of Superfoods
Peru is the ideal destination for someone who eats consciously. Peru has long been miles ahead of the recent western hype around superfoods. Nowadays you can no longer browse through a recipe book without finding quinoa, avocado or sweet potato dishes. Yet these rich plant-based foods have been used in the local cuisine for centuries, made from plants traditionally grown in Peru, such as the maca plant and cacao tree.
Even though meat and fish dominate the Peruvian food menus, you can still enjoy the local specialities as a vegetarian. Most of the time, the meals can be prepared without meat, including the most popular dishes. Be aware when you ask for a meal ‘sin carne’ (without meat), because this won’t always be understood as we understand it. You could easily get a plate with chicken. Always specify that you want to eat without meat, chicken and fish, and that you just want vegetables. In many of these meals you can replace the meat with ingredients, such as avocado or egg.
Eating in Peru: Vegetarian Dishes
What classic dishes can you order as a vegetarian? Potatoes are always a safe bet! In the Peruvian kitchen they have no less than 3000 different kinds of potatoes. So there is no lack of potato dishes. For example, choose Papa a la Huancaina – boiled potatoes served with lettuce, egg and a creamy sauce. Or Escribano Arequipeno – a salad made of mashed potatoes, tomato and sweet peppers. Soups are also extremely popular in Peru and many of them do not contain meat, but rather ingredients such as quinoa, potato and pumpkin.
If you speak some Spanish, you should be able to communicate if you want a meat dish in vegetarian form. For example, the popular dish Causa can just as easily be prepared without fish or meat. Causa consists of layers of mashed potatoes and avocado with tuna salad, crab or chicken in between the layers. In many restaurants this can also be replaced by vegetables upon request. The same applies to the popular dish of Rocoto Relleno. These stuffed sweet peppers are normally served with a filling of beef, but can also be ordered with only cheese and vegetables. Traditionally, the Rocoto Relleno is also served with a small potato gratin, which is also vegetarian.
Vegetarian food in peru: Fish?
Fish is an indispensable main ingredient in Peruvian cuisine. If you do not eat meat, but you do eat fish, then you have a wide selection to choose from in Peru. A speciality that you should not miss out on during your trip in Peru is the national dish: ceviche. This raw fish meal, cooked in a lime juice marinade, is the pride of Peruvians. All along the coast, you can look forward to beautiful dishes full of shrimp and shellfish!
Vegetarian food in Peru: Go on a food tour in Lima
We recommend doing a food tour upon arrival in Lima for the perfect first impressions of the local cuisine of Peru. Tell your travel expert in Peru, Guido, that you are vegetarian so that he can take this into account during the tour. This way you will immediately learn which dishes you can eat as a vegetarian and how to ask for adjustments in a restaurant. Lima is also a truly culinary destination where you can enjoy local markets, cheap eateries and decadent Michelin-starred restaurants.
The local cuisine as part of you Peru travels
Peru is the ideal destination for combining travelling with enjoying the local cuisine. You can find delicious food everywhere you go, as our travel expert Agnes can surely tell you. Born in Lima but raised in between the Peruvian coast and the jungle, she knows the ins and outs of the country. Before departure you will receive your personal restaurant tips for different cities and for every budget category. Do you have specific wishes, such as visiting a local market with a guide, a cooking course or a food tour? Share it with Agnes and she will include it in the travel proposal.