The original cuisine is one of most interesting and long lasting experiences from a new culture. However, if you have several limits which block you to try many options, the journey cannot be as exciting as it is to others who can fully enjoy all types of food from the traveling destination. Likewise, numerous vegetarian travelers to Ecuador have difficulties to find proper meals because most cuisine cannot be an option for those vegetarians. Even some travelers say that they did not know what to have because all dishes that restaurants offer especially for the almuerzo are served with either beef or chicken. However, I would like to inform you about some vegetarian options in Ecuadorian cuisine.

1. Llapingachos

Llapingachos are an Ecuadorian style of stuffed potatoes or thick potato pancakes with cheese. They are usually served as a side dish with various main dish such as baked pork, chorizo style sausages or fried eggs. Ironically, it is served with meat which cannot be an option for vegetarians, but people enjoy llapingachos with the salad or avocado slices as well. If you order the vegetarian version of the plate, you can fully enjoy the meal based on your taste!

2. Patacones

Patacones are fried plantains in a flat form. Like llapingachos, patacones are also usually served as a side dish of the main menu. In most cases, patacones come with fish which is also not an option for vegetarians. However, patacones are also good with salad and rice which can be enjoyed by vegetarian eaters.

3. Mote Pillo

Mote pillo is a traditional Ecuadorian dish of hominy corn with scrambled eggs. It is the perfect breakfast or brunch dish, but can also be served as main meal for lunch or a side dish for grilled or roasted meat dishes. Mote pillo is very easy and quick to make: the mote or hominy is sautéed with onions, garlic, achiote, eggs, milk, chives and cilantro or parsley.

4. Locro soup

Locro de papa, a type of a potato soup, is a classic Ecuadorian potato and cheese soup. Soups are very popular in Ecuador and usually served with most meals. As locro soup is based on potatoes, it can also be enjoyed by vegetarian visitors. Sometimes the soup includes other ingredients so be careful not to straightly think that every ´locro´soup only contains potatoes.

5. Bolón de Verde

It is common breakfast menu near the coastal part of Ecuador. It is basically a cluster of cheese and green plantain. Although sometimes bolones can include some pork but usually it can be only the potatos, platano and cheese. Just one portion of it is enough for breakfast. To be honest, it is quite heavy for the breakfast but good and handy local food for lunch and a picnic.

I often encounter people who ask about how vegetarians can enjoy some Ecuadorian cuisine. Yes. It is true that it is not easy to find “without meat” dish in South America compared to Northern America countries or European countries. However, travelers should keep in mind that they can always ask for vegetarian option in restaurants and even some traditional cuisine is also available for vegetarian travelers. Plus, there are various fruits which welcome vegetarians to have some light meals!

Written by: Jin