A Vegetarian’s Guide to Medellín

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Govinda’s
Set lunch at the Govinda’s restaurant for only 8,500 pesos!
Verdeo
The colorful entrance to Verdeo (photo: David Lee)

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Floor, a Nutrition student at the University of Applied Sciences Amsterdam.

Life as a vegetarian might seem hard in Medellín or Colombia in general.

There are not that many places where they love their meat as much as they do in Medellín. It’s not just that Bandeja Paisa (a plate that contains up to five different types of meat) is the typical dish of Antioquia, but also that a steak will most likely be cheaper in the supermarket than a few carrots.

But if you choose your products right and know where to eat, Medellín might surprise you. 

How to maintain a well-balanced vegetarian diet when using typical Colombian ingredients

Want to eat out but cheaply? Most typical Colombian restaurants will offer el plato del dia (plate of the day) for a fixed and cheap price.

It’s normally a big and filling meal existing of a soup and a plate filled with rice, beans, plantain, salad, meat and sometimes a piece of avocado.

By ordering this plate without the meat, you will still consume a lot of the vitamins and minerals you need to maintain a healthy body. Los frijoles (beans) for example contain loads of iron and protein.

The only thing that might not be sufficient will be the veggies. The salad is mostly small and doesn’t contain much more than some lettuce and a piece of tomato, so you need to work on them in another moment of the day.

When cooking a plate like this at home, you can replace the meat for products such as tofu or a vegetarian burger.

Instead of using normal white rice you can prepare whole grain rice. Whole grain rice or brown rice contains more vitamins, minerals and fiber than white rice does.

Add some vegetables such as spinach, beetroot or broccoli and you have made yourself a well-balanced, healthy and nutritional Colombian meal.

Other products which are widely available in the Colombian supermarkets and which help you to balance out a healthy vegetarian diet are: whole grain products like bread, rice, tortillas, cereals, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green leaf vegetables, legumes as beans, chickpeas and lentils, soya products, tofu, nuts and seeds, eggs, cow milk, soya milk and cheese. 

Vitamin C considerably helps your body to absorb the iron out of your foods. Luckily, Medellín offers an extremely big variety of all different types of delicious fruits and fruit juices. So drink some juice while enjoying your meals!

Fango Veggie BBQ in Manila
Fango Veggie BBQ in Manila

Where to Eat

Restaurants in Poblado

Most popular vegetarian restaurant in Medellin (and for a reason)…

For a quick and healthy bite…

Pizza
Caramelized onion pizza at Café Zorba (photo: David Lee)

Great pizza and live music on Wednesdays…

Fine dining…

Delicious Indian food and nice atmosphere…

Restaurants in Centro

Hindu restaurant and cultural center…

Govinda’s
Set lunch at the Govinda’s restaurant for only 8,500 pesos!

Restaurants in Laureles

Best bread in town…

Restaurants in Suramericana

Small, casual restaurant right near Plaza Suramericana, focusing on house-made vegetarian fare. Many items contain ghee. Ask for vegan options.

  • Place: El Árbol de la Vida
  • Address: Carrera 64C #48-188, Local 1

Restaurants in Belén

Vegetarian Shops

Centro

  • Place: Tienda Naturista y Restaurante Vegetariano Vida Natural
  • Address: Cr. 50 48-53 L-9930

Itagüí

  • Place: Tienda cocina vegetariana el Palo
  • Address: Cr45 52-63 , Mayorista
The products of Hojaral
The products of Hojaral

Products Available in the Supermarkets

Hojaral

  • Vegetal Burger (hamburger made of lentils, wheat and soy protein)
  • Vegetal Chorizo (sausages made of beans, wheat and soy protein)
  • Cruji vegetal (crunchy soy based croutons, goes well in soups, beans and salads)

You can find Hojaral in the following supermarkets: Euro, Consumo and the Exito del Este, and the ones in Poblado and Envigado.

There is one other brand that is selling vegetarian products in supermarkets:

  • Alves 

In nature shops, you will find products from the following brands:

  • Sabyi
  • Lenteja Express
  • La Senda
  • Vegeta

If you have a recommendation to add to this list, share it in the comments below. Be sure to include an address or website so readers can find it. 

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About the Author: Floor is a Nutrition student at the University of Applied Sciences Amsterdam, now doing her internship in Medellín. She loves to travel, cook and discover different food cultures.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. I want to know how you find the veggie burgers in the market. I can’t seem to find them in any market in Bogota. Which market are you going to?

    Being vegetarian, I fell in love with colombia for its year round produce. It is amazing how much great fresh fruits and vegetables you can get. It is like heaven for vegetarians, at least those who can cook. If not you are stuck to the meat heavy menus 😉

    • Hi Erick,

      I completly agree with you. Have never seen such a diversity of available and local produced fruits and vegetables!

      In Bogota you can find our products in Bio Plaza, Zukini, La esquina vegetariana y Fractales.

      Hope you enjoy them!

    • Just ate at Prana after having seen this recommendation. For the sake of future readers, if you are looking for a totally vegetarian restaurant, you should know that Prana also serves chicken and other “animal protein”. Their menu option is vegetarian and they have plenty of veggie options. They are also planning on having a local organic farmer come and sell produce Saturdays out front (starting soon I was told… but not sure of the hours).

  2. Being a vegetarian from the San Francisco Bay Area (supposedly a hotbed for vegetarianism), I was surprised at the sheer quantity of veggie restaurants in Medellin. I find it extremely easy to be vegetarian here with the more than 10 veggie restaurant options, the great variety of veggies (as previously mentioned in the article), and the juices and salpicon everywhere.
    Here’s a restaurant not mentioned in your article but very tasty and excellently priced.

    MATI – Chinese vegan buffet owned by a delightful couple from Taiwan.
    Mon-Sat 10:00am-7:00pm
    Located in the Monterey shopping center in El Poblado
    Carrera 48, Unit 10-45, Local 234b (Calle 10)
    Medellin, Colombia
    Link to HappyCow write-up http://www.happycow.net/reviews/mati-comida-saludable-medellin-42882

  3. Hey Floor, nice work!

    You mentioned sweet potatoes – the only thing close I’ve found is called “ñame” and has a skin like tree bark. Can you recommend where to find a good variety of sweet potatoes?

    • Hey Joe,

      Thanks!
      To be honest I shouldn’t have mentioned it in the list of easy available products in Colombia. It might be hard to find them.
      I found some sweet potatoes (batata/ camote) in La Plaza Minorista.
      It’s close to ´la Universidad de Antioquia´

      Hope you will get to find them.

  4. There is also a new vegetarian buffet near Exito de Colombia. Very tasty!
    Flor de Loto
    Mon-Sat 11:00am-3:00pm
    Address::calle49 ‪#‎65A‬-38
    tel:4364894 (Medellin)

  5. Hi Dave, thanks for your page!
    There’s a new place in downtown, is very near from Govinda’s (hare krishna restaurant), its a VEGAN restaurant called LOS ROBOTS, the place is really interesting in many ways, and the food is delicious and the most important: vegan!!
    Here is the adress: Carrera 52 (Carabobo) # 51 – 42 | Centro Comercial Veracruz – Zona de Comidas – piso 3, Medellín.
    http://restaurantelosrobots.com.co/about-us/

    GO VEG!

  6. I didn’t go because it was only open 12-5 but there’s a place in a belen called el vegano andante. There’s also Mundoverde in the unicentro