Vegetarian Dinner in the Caribbean
For vegetarians, dining out presents many challenges; Finding vegan options can be even more frustrating. Add travel to the mix and you have a potential recipe for disaster. While the abundance of Caribbean seafood will suit pescetarians, discovering true vegetarian meals takes a bit more work. Fortunately, a little research before you go will help you find dining options that are not only suitable but also delicious.
If you plan to cruise, you are in luck. Several cruise lines offer vegetarian options, a full vegetarian menu, or can prepare special dishes for you upon request. Celebrity Cruises has received rave reviews for its excellent gourmet vegetarian cuisine, tailoring meals to diners’ needs. NCL and Royal Caribbean also rank high among vegetarian passengers. Carnival Cruise Lines, on the other hand, may be one to avoid. Although they offer one vegetarian item per menu and claim they can accommodate vegetarian requests, they do not have a dietitian on board so their ability to make changes is limited. For vegans, this can be a big problem. A vegan reports that before the cruise she was assured that her diet would not be a problem; however, all he could eat was bread, lettuce, and occasionally a baked potato. When you book a cruise with any company, tell them you are vegetarian or vegan and ask any questions you may have about the menu offerings.
Lovers of the land may find that the easiest way to ensure a variety of vegetarian options is to stay at a resort with several restaurants. The Sandals chain, for example, includes up to eleven restaurants at each location. Their menus usually include at least one vegetarian option in each category. While that may seem limiting, resort menus tend to change frequently, often nightly. Resorts also often have a buffet, so you can pick and choose. Sample menus are usually posted on a resort’s website, so logging in online can be a way to do a bit of research work. Still, it’s a good idea to check with the resort before booking to find out how vegetarian-friendly they are.
High-end resorts are often more conscientious about serving healthy food, including vegetarian dishes. Some of them use organic and / or locally grown produce in their kitchen. Even if you can’t afford to stay there, you might be able to eat at their restaurants. For example, the Sugar Mill restaurant at the Sugar Mill Hotel (British Virgin Islands) is a local delicacy worth the trip. Voted “Best Restaurant in the Caribbean” by Caribbean Travel & Life readers, the ever-changing menu at this gourmet restaurant always offers various vegetarian dishes and its atmosphere makes it a great place for a special evening.
Meatless travelers interested in visiting the Dominican Republic should consider Sirenis Hotels, which have a fully vegetarian restaurant at their Punta Cana resort. Comprised of Sirenis Cocotal Beach Resort and Sirenis Tropical Suites, the vegetarian restaurant appears to be on the plan. Tropical Suites all inclusive but not Cocotal Beach Resort. If you prefer to stay in Cocotal, check with them to see if you can eat in the vegetarian restaurant.
When it comes to specific countries, Jamaica is vegetarian heaven. Because Rastafarians are vegetarians, options abound. The key word to remember is “Ital”, derived from “vital”. Italian cuisine uses pure organic ingredients and is essentially vegan. However, some dishes may contain honey, so if you don’t eat honey, be sure to ask for it. In fact, Ital is a good word to look up anywhere, as Ital food can be found in other countries as well.
Puerto Rico also has a number of cafes and restaurants that are fully vegetarian or vegan. If you’re having a hard time finding a place, keep an eye out for the Pollo Tropical fast food chain, which doesn’t put meat on their rice and beans.
Of course, ethnic restaurants are good waiting places anywhere. The ethnic population of an island will partially determine what is available. For example, Trinidad has several Chinese and Indian restaurants because immigrants came from those countries before the 20th century.
For casual or take-out meals, look for health food supermarkets, which sometimes have delis with vegetarian items. Nature’s Way in Road Town in the British Virgin Islands is one such place.
The short list of dining options below will help you get started. Some are not exclusively vegetarian, but all include at least some vegetarian options on their menus. Vegans and suitable for vegans are indicated with a V.
Ancient: Kalabashe, St. John’s West. V
Barbados: Back to eden Speightstown. V
Cancun: 100% natural. V
Cayman Islands: Vegetarian delicacies, Georgetown. V
Dominican Republic: Lotos Restaurant, Santo Domingo. V
Nevis: Natural life, Newcastle village. V
Puerto Rico: So yes, Cabo Rojo. V
San Martin: Top carrot Simpson Bay.
Trinity: Mother Nature, Port of Spain.
Tobago: Kariwak Village Restaurant, Crown Point.
US Virgin Islands: Vegetarian Soul, Christiansted. V
Some good online resources are www.HappyCow.net, www.VegDining.com, and www.VegSource.com. Unlike the first two, VegSource doesn’t have a directory, but their forum does have some threads about restaurants in the Caribbean, and you can always post your own question. Also take a look at the international yellow pages online. Just remember that businesses have to pay money to be listed, so not all restaurants will be represented.
When on your trip, if you want to try a restaurant that is out of the way, call first as the listings may be out of date. With a little preparation, you’ll spend less time worrying about where you’re going to eat and more time enjoying your travels.