Vegan in Costa Rica: Survival Guide

Vegan in Costa Rica: Survival Guide

Hello Vegan World, My name is Oheri Otobo. I have been Vegan for four years now, which is funny because I was only supposed to be “trying it out” for a month. I recently went on an adventure to Costa Rica and learned a thing or two about surviving as a vegan in Costa Rica. I decided to document my whole experience in a rather unorthodox manner, and call it A Vegan Abroad on my YouTube channel.

My journey to becoming vegan started out with no particular interest in changing the way I ate. If you asked anyone before I became vegan what I thought of food, they would attest to my love of all food. I was not overweight—in fact, I lived a very active lifestyle—I just loved and still love food.

Since my story is rather long and requires a significant amount of detail I will skip it for the sake of time and topic; however, I would like to highlight that one of my main interests in becoming vegan was making sure my body would become more alkaline and ward of as much acidity as possible. Reading about a plant-based diet, I found fruits and vegetables were the main leaders in creating a healthy alkaline body, and Costa Rica has many fruits and vegetables.

Fast forward four years later to a more seasoned vegan version of myself, and living a plant-based lifestyle has become second nature. However, I was always nervous about traveling. I feared either not having anything to eat, or being forced to cook. As much as I enjoy cooking, which was another great skill I found I had, it’s not the first thing I think of doing when I go on vacation.

Like most people, I would rather just go out to eat and have a good time, and not have to worry about what I am going to make for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Since becoming vegan, I have traveled the globe on several occasions, though everywhere I’ve visited, I knew there would be vegan options awaiting. Recently, I challenge myself further and decided to go where few vegans had gone before—or so I thought; Costa Rica. For starters, Costa Rica is a tropical haven, rich with all sorts of vegetation. I knew at the very least I would be able to survive off of fruits for the nine days I was there. It would be a tough nine days, I imagined, but I would survive.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to resort to survival mode at all! Here are a few tips and trick I picked up while visiting Costa Rica.

TRICK: CUSTOMIZE

If you go into any restaurant you have the option of making a meal vegan either by creating a dish from all the sides they have to offer, or by simply asking to take out all the things that would make an entrée non-vegan (i.e, meat and dairy products). The thing I like the most about this trick is that you can still get the chance to taste authentic flavors, because let’s face it foodies, one of the many pleasures about traveling is getting to take dishes indigenous to the country you are visiting. This trick allows that with minimal compromise.

TIP: GO LOCAL

Head to local markets. Local markets are cheaper than generic supermarkets and you can stock up on fresh exotic fruits. We got the chance to taste Caimito, Nispero and fresh Soursop. I had never tried Caimito or Nispero before visiting Costa Rica, and the Soursop I had tasted typically came out of a can. The locals were so friendly and allowed us to sample the smaller fruits before deciding to purchase a bunch of them. They were delectable, my taste buds were grateful.

TIP & TRICK: SUPPORT ON THE GO

Visiting a foreign country as a vegan, finding food spots may not always be so easy, but once you do find a place that has actual vegan options here are two things to keep in mind: 1. make that your go-to place if you can, as you search for other places 2. remember to take food to go.

Again, no one wants to cook while they are on vacation—unless you do, then there is nothing wrong with that. The way I see it, we eat a lot of the same things over and over again, so the idea of either getting the same thing or eating at the same place is nothing to be put off by.

TIP: JUNK FOOD JUNKIE

This is a tip that I reluctantly put up here, but at the end of the day, we all have a junk-food-junkie in us. On this trip, before we got the chance to visit a decent restaurant, we were forced to eat at Denny’s, this was when survival mode kicked in. The only thing I was able to eat were fries.

When all else fails, sides are your best friend, even if they are not healthy, it’s better to have something in your stomach than to not eat or even worse, use that as an excuse to eat meat.

TRICK: NUT FOR NOTHNG

One of my favorite go-to snacks, even when I’m not abroad, are nuts. Nuts are filling, packed with good fats and keep you feeling full, and nut-to-mention your body has a good energy source to work off of. The beautiful thing about nuts is that even though they contain fats, they won’t have you packing on the pounds. You can eat pretty much to your heart’s content and still maintain that beach body you’ve been working so hard to keep, or at the very least, just not starve. You can find nuts at any convenient store, gas station or any market. Having these essential snacks will always keep you one step ahead of the hunger pangs.

OHERI OTOBO is a voice actor, model, and vegan athlete. Four years ago Oheri decided to choose a plant-based lifestyle to lead a better, healthier life. “One of the first things I noticed was I no longer had any phlegm build in my throat after a run, which would typically happen, followed by chronic coughing. Once I noticed that, how could I possibly look back?”

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