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Bogotá: Latin America’s Vegetarian Paradise

By Jasmine Stephenson

From Argentina’s carne asada to Ecuador’s cuy (guinea pig) to Colombia’s sancocho, Latin America isn’t exactly known for its vegetarian fare. Asking for a meatless lunch at any local eatery will likely be met with blank stares or offers of chicken.

Not all hope is lost. The capital of Colombia, Bogotá, is home to a booming vegetarian movement, and around 50 strictly vegetarian restaurants have sprung up across the city to meet the demand. Choices aren’t limited to just beans and rice either. The selection is surprisingly varied, ranging from Indian-style dishes at Hare Krishna buffets to funky fusion dishes that put a vegetarian twist on international cuisine.

The city’s vegetarians are as diverse as its restaurant options. University students can be found sitting on pillows and chowing down on gluten burritos at trendy Maha (Carrera 7 #46-42; 323-2448) between classes. In La Candelaria, co-workers in suits dine on vegetarian lasagna over lunch hour at Loto Azul (Carrera 5A #14-00; 334-2346). Sabyi, located in Bogotá’s upscale Polo Club, is a popular weekend lunch spot whose diners include families, young couples and older folks treating themselves to comprehensive prix fixe menu lunches and stocking up on meatless ham, tofu and soy milk (Carrera 24 #86A-40; 256-8828).

So herbivores, rejoice! Vegetarians can be choosers in this Latin American metropolis.

Photo by Lorna Philips