As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been coming to Puerto Rico to visit my family for years. Although the island is known for not being vegetarian-friendly, I’ve found ways to keep my diet–even when I’m surrounded by meat eaters! Here’s how I do it.
Keep Your Eyes Out for Health Food Stores
Surprisingly, there are tons of health food stores in Puerto Rico. If you’re staying in Dorado, I can recommend three that exist within a 10 mile radius, including Verde Natura, Essential Organics, and Armonia. They tend to be tucked away, however, so you need to keep your eyes peeled. My favorite health food store in Puerto Rico is Dora’s in Manati–although I know this is a bit far for most who visit and stay in San Juan. If you’re staying in San Juan, however, check out Superfoods in Condado or La Buena Mesa de Oscar in Rio Piedras, which also has a vegetarian cafe right next to it!
Stock up on These Puerto Rican Treats
Plantains: Sorry, I’m not talking about fried plantains or plantain chips (that’s not to say I didn’t have one during my trip…uh oh!) I’m talking about boiled plantains with no grease added. Plantains not only help with digestion, they also are high in calcium and have been proven to help improve brain functioning. Try blending some into Abuela’s plantain soup!
Avocados: Avocados in Puerto Rico are so delicious. They tend to be bigger and juicier than the avocados you find in the States. Not only that, you can find them anywhere. My aunt has a tree full of avocados that has been growing for years—talk about local! They’re also sold at about every fruit stand that you can find. This made eating very easy for me. Whenever my family planned to go to a place that I knew wasn’t vegetarian-friendly, I would always sneak in an avocado to add to a bed of lettuce and tomatoes. And with all the essential fatty acids, half an avocado was just enough to make me feel full and satisfied.
Cold Coconuts (Cocos Frios): It’s not rare in Puerto Rico to see a coconut stand while driving on the local roads. These are as fresh as they can get! Open one up and you’ll get a great dose of coconut water to keep you hydrated on a hot caribbean day.
Check out Places with Vegetarian Options
Casa Lola, Condado: Being that I have the most awesome family in the world, my cousin picked this place out with me in mind when he invited my family out to dinner. In addition to the normal Puerto Rican foods (fritters, pork, seafood, etc.) this restaurant offered some great salads and vegetarian options. I started my meal off with a salad and had a vegetarian platter with chard, asparagus, mushrooms, and vegetarian beans. Yum!
Café Berlin, Old San Juan: Although a little bit tofu-heavy for my taste, this little gem in Old San Juan has a full vegetarian menu with gluten-free options along with fish and meat options. I had the vegan “meatloaf” (made with rice, beans, and vegetables) and a house salad. Perfect for ending a night of strolling the cobble stone streets of the historic neighborhood.
There are so many places to get your sweat on in Puerto Rico. I definitely recommend taking classes atIt’s Yoga Puerto Rico in Condado. The studio is better than any New York studio I’ve been to and is just a walk away from the beach! You can also experience the beautiful scenery of the island either by running or hiking outside. On the days where I didn’t practice yoga, I would either hike or run in the nearby neighborhood, where I would frequently see reptiles, coquis, and beautiful greenery. Some great places to go hiking include el Yunque Rainforest and El Torro Negro State Forest.
I hope this helps you on your next trip to La Isla del Encanto!
Smelling the flowers at el Torro Negro. Such beautiful greenery!