February 7, 2016 ·

Being Vegetarian in Buenos Aires Argentina


frozen vegetables

Argentina is known as the land of steak and wine, but many foreigners and tourists who travel to this amazing country find themselves in a predicament if they are vegetarians.  Based on Italian, Spanish, and indigenous cuisine, the main staple of any diet in Argentina is beef.  Buenos Aires is slowly becoming for vegetarian-friendly in recent years, and there are a few restaurants that cater specifically to vegetarians.  It’s even possible you’ll run into the rare native vegetarian, though unlikely.  Here are some tips to maneuvering your way through Argentine gastronomy and surviving as a veggie!


#1- Carne, meat, means beef in Argentina.  When you ask what options you have without meat, sin carne, you will likely get options that include chicken, fish and ham.  Often, food without beef is considered to be vegetarian, even if it contains chicken, ham or fish.

#2- Make sure to double check that your order will come without ham, beef, chicken, or if you don’t eat it, fish.  Say, “This doesn’t contain any type of beef, ham, chicken or fish, right?”  “No contiene ningún tipo de carne, jamón, pollo o pescado, verdad?” This is also useful when asking what foods have no meats in them, because there are so many different cuts and kinds of meat that it’s hard to keep track of them!  If the food description includes a word you don’t know, be sure to ask if it is a kind of meat!


#3- When in doubt, always double check.  This is a country where everything, from salads, to burgers to sandwiches often include ham and cheese.  It is a default ingredient that many waiters won’t even mention.  Caprese empanadas, salads or sandwiches, which would normally include tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, may just as well include ham without any noticeable mention of it.  The same goes for anything else you’d assume may be meatless.

#4- Reliable vegetarian empanada options include: verdura, vegetable, which normally is made of alcega, swiss chard, and white sauce; choclo or humita, which is made of corn with white sauce; and queso y cebolla, cheese and onion.  Other options include caprese, tomato, basil and cheese, Roquefort, blue cheese, celery and walnut, and champignon queso y jerez, mushroom, cheese and red wine.  However, any of the last three might include the default ham, so be sure to double check that they don’t.


#5 – Other tasty vegetarian options can often be found on the “Light” menu that many restaurants offer.  A popular light option is milanesa de soja, a soy version of the classic thinly sliced breaded and fried cutlets of beef, pork or chicken.

Also Read: Eating Healthy In Buenos Aires

You can also almost always rely on pasta:  fideos (spaghetti), sorrentinos or ravioles (both are ravioli), or caneloni with verdura (normally it’s acelga, swiss chard) or ricotta cheese.  Reliable sauces are fileto, basic plain tomato sauce with no meat, crema, basic white sauce, or rosa, is a mix of the two.  However, sometimes ravioli made of ricotta and ham are simply referred to as ricotta, so double check, and be sure to also double check about the fileto sauce—sometimes a restaurant will substitute bolognese, a meat and tomato sauce, for fileto, assuming it won’t matter.


And of course, salads are great, but again, they often include ham and cheese, chicken or tuna.  Ask if you can switch out the meat or fish for boiled eggs (huevos duros), beets (remolacha), arrugala (rúcula) or another iron or protein rich food like beans (porotos).

#6- For a cheap, great vegetarian option in Buenos Aires, hit one of the numerous vegetarian take-out places where you can load up on purely vegetarian food and pay by the kilo.  Try Spring, on Borges and Charcas in Palermo, Sabo at Juramento and Cramer in Belgrano, or Lotus on Cordoba and Parana in the Center.  There are lots of these kinds of restaurants throughout the city.  For a luxury treat, visit Bio, the organic, sustainable, local-food restaurant on Humbolt and Costa Rica in Palermo Hollywood.  Their unbelievable salads, curries, veggie burgers, and unique desserts are worth the splurge at least once during your stay here.


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