Vegan Food in Costa Rica
Primary staples of the Costa Rican diet are rice, beans, and plantains, often mixed with a side of chicken or beef – this is commonly referred to as a casero. Good news for vegans, you can order the meal fairly easily without beef or chicken or egg (if breakfast time). See the Spanish Guide for the Travelling Veggie on how to do that.
Outside of the caseros – I’d give Costa Rica 6/10 on the veggie friendly scale. There are plenty of vegetables, but they aren’t quite as cheap (avocados – I’m looking at you), and there haven’t been as many alternative products as I thought. See below for vegan food options I’ve found in the local supermarkets.
- Carne de Soya – aka Textured Vegetable Protein
- Here I’ve seen it as Carne de Soya in health food stores, and then also this brand below has been the main one I’ve seen – Soya Texturizada.
- There hasn’t been a country yet in Latin America that doesn’t have Carne de Soya in the majority of it’s grocery stores. I’ve seen it everywhere except 1 store in Costa Rica.
- Watch out – it’s always in a weird spot. They don’t consider it the same type of food we do, so it’s often in the breakfast food areas near the granola and oats.
- Other Protein Options
- Beans & Lentils – Super Common
- Plenty of beans & lentils are available in almost all the grocery stores. The beans and lentils can be dried, and then I’ve seen refried black and pinto beans in bags that are pre-prepared and great for wraps or traveling. There also are cans of garbanzo available pre-prepared.
- Most have English and Spanish ingredients listed, so pick it up and check it out. I haven’t found one that isn’t vegan yet.
- Quinoa/Couscous, etc – Pretty rare
- Haven’t found this a ton. Think I’ve seen each once and it was pretty expensive. Check out the “health” section near the carne de soya in the breakfast aisles, or the rice/bean areas.
- Tofu – Haven’t seen yet
- Probably in specialty stores, but haven’t checked those out too much yet.
- Beans & Lentils – Super Common
- Alternative Milks
- Soy/Almond Milk has been available, but only in American imported brands = Expensive
- I’ve seen local brands before in South America that were reasonably priced, but haven’t seen anything in super markets yet for Soymilk from around here.
- Costa Rica isn’t exactly cheap, so I guess relatively it’s not terrible since a lot of prices are fairly close to the US. Silk Soy Milk has been the cheapest, and then there has been some almond milk I’ve seen.
- It’s always in the dry food sections, more likely than not in the breakfast area as well.
- Alternative Meats – Rare
- I have found some alternative meats, mainly American brand – Tofurky. I haven’t seen a ton of it (only found it once in the frozen section). In general, the frozen sections are very small and only have animal meat. It doesn’t hurt to look though, and if you find specialty stores, as listed on Happy Cow or Lonely Planet, they’ll likely have some other options.
Few Special Call Outs –
- Monteverde & Santa Elena: Vegan Ice Cream, Vegan alternative meat products, and Vegan Follow Your Heart Egg Replacer in Monteverde/Santa Elena.
- Coconut Bliss pints & bars, on top of the most vegan meats I’ve seen (mainly Tofurky), and then the weirdest vegan product I’ve seen in Costa Rica so far – Follow Your Heart Egg Replacer product. This store is a regular grocery store, it’s not one of the specialty health food stores, or anything like that. This is weird times 100. Not sure what’s going on, but I’m not against it by any means. Only odd thing going on here is there is no Carne De Soya, mainly because they don’t see it as a vegan product I suppose.
- To find it – it’s right around the corner from the main street near TacoTaco. You can’t miss it.
- Santa Teresa – Vegan Cheese, Vegan Alternative Meat Products, all the alternative milks
- Santa Teresa, aka surf retreat, as most hippy surfer towns do, does have a pretty good vegan scene going on. Lots of alternative milks and options in the cafes, along with a full veggie restaurant -the grocery stores also carry a lot of good products. The Super Ronny has tofu (canned/boxed) off of the main street in Santa Teresa, and the grocery store at the far North side of town has vegan cheese (Follow Your Heart Mozarella is what I saw) and a few meat products in a little fridge in the back near the milks.