Why You Shouldn’t Be Worried About Visiting the Caribbean If You’re Vegan.

Plant-based food sales have been increasing throughout the United States for years. Sales for vegan foods grew nearly three times faster than total food sales from 2018 to 2020 according to sentimentmedia.org. Vegan fare is so delicious that now even non-vegans are opting for plant-based Italian sausage pizza and ice cream made with gum-free coconut milk, oat milk, or cashew milk.

While veganism has gone mainstream, many islands in the Caribbean and beyond have long partaken in vegan life. Although sometimes it can take a little extra research, you’re sure to find somewhere that can give you the best experience as a vegan. People in this part of the world eat a lot of fruit, rice, and beans, making it easy to find ingredients for a meal if you’re vegan. And you can find fresh coconuts at the side of the roads for less than a dollar on most islands. Another perk for vegans is that the Caribbean climate is tropical, and a wide variety of exotic fruits and vegetables grow all throughout the year.

Veganism is on trend in the Caribbean

Vegan life is quite common in the islands. From vegan Turks and Caicos resorts to vegan-themed Aruba vacation packages, resorts and hotels can accommodate a vegan diet with easy crossover dishes incorporating their national fare. A vegetable dish with roots in West Africa, callaloo (like spinach), was brought to the Caribbean by slaves and is still a vital part of diets for Jamaicans, Dominicans, and Trinidadians. Seasoned with island flair, these nutrient-rich leafy greens are the perfect addition to any vegan meal.

Jamaica's Ital Diet

The island of Jamaica, best known for reggae, beautiful beaches, Usain Bolt, and Sandals Resorts, is a top island for vegan eats, and in fact, the Rastafari way of life encourages a roots or ital diet. Adventures in Jamaica abound—as do the vegan offerings here. To find vegan options, one can seek refuge in Rastafarian eateries that serve primarily plant-based cuisine, locally known as ital. Plantain chips and yam croquettes served with guacamole are vegan favorites. But what you might not know about Jamaica is that many popular Jamaican restaurants also serve up specialty dishes made with fresh jackfruit and vegan pasta topped with cashew cheese and accompanied by savory dipping sauces. Chefs even get creative here with vegan twists on national favorites like Jamaica’s beloved national dish, Ackee and Saltfish (substituting the saltfish with heart of palms).

Aruba's Vegan Connoisseur

There is possibly no better vacation for a vegan than a resort or bed and breakfast that promotes its product as vegan-friendly, and there is plenty of this happening on Aruba. Some even call this Dutch Caribbean-island a “vegan oasis” as a wave of vegan-friendly Aruba all-inclusive resorts and restaurants have created full vegan menus to cater to the growing vegan craving from locals as well as the tourist population. From vegan crab cakes, cashew cheese tacos, and cauliflower wings, to signature pink pancakes rolled up with a vegan coconut filling and drizzled with dark chocolate, vegan options abound.

Cuba's Herbivorous Delights

For Cuba, flavorful rice and beans are national accompaniments and various veggie-vegan pastas and sandwiches, humus, salads, and fruit juices can be found all over the island. Most cocktails too in Cuba are vegan, including the classics: mojitos, daiquiris, and caipirinhas. Neighboring Dominican Republic is also veganized, offering special vacation packages focused on health and well-being, and get this, they also offer vegan retreats! Among this Caribbean island nation’s offerings, vegans can generally find a plant-based cuisine all-inclusive retreat, and Dominican Republic tourism accommodates the vegan lifestyle.

Trinidad and Tobago's Vegan Street Food

Trinidad and Tobago’s doubles are a delicious vegan treat—inherently vegan food sold on the streets by vendors. This national dish, which demonstrates the large Indian influence on Trinidadian cooking, incorporates bara (flatbreads) and curried chickpea filling. It’s all about the sauce for this beloved dish that is best accompanied by a lime cucumber chutney or a local sauce like a Trinidadian yellow habanero hot sauce (if you can take the heat!). Other street foods like the Trinidad Corn Soup—a smorgasbord of veggies, pumpkin, potatoes, and herbs and spices—is also vegan.

All in all, with the vastness of the places you can visit, if you’re a vegan and want to visit the Caribbean, the good news is that you can find plenty of restaurants, resorts, hotels, and getaways that will cater to your needs.

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