Here are 17 vegetarian versions of traditional Colombian food that you must try. These recipes can also be adapted for vegan diets.
Are You Wondering If You Would Find Vegetarian Food in Colombia? I’ve Got You Covered!
Colombian cuisine is mainly centered around animal protein, which can make it challenging for vegetarians to find options. However, being a vegetarian in Colombia is beautiful, because it has an abundant selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, delicious corn-based dishes, and a wide variety of artisanal cheeses.
You see, living in Colombia as a vegetarian is possible!
Vegetarian Food In Colombia
Let’s start off with the most delicious and mind-blowing vegetarian ingredients that Colombia has to offer: fruits. In Colombia, whether you are in Cartagena or Medellin, you will always have access to a wide range of fresh fruit options, whether you’re shopping at a grocery store or market, or simply walking down the street.
As a vegetarian, you’ll have a wide range of fruit options to choose from, including common fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas, as well as unique tropical fruits like yellow dragon fruit (pitaya), granadilla, Spanish limes (mamoncillos), soursop (guanábana), cape gooseberries (uchuvas), and naranjillas (lulos).
Colombia boasts a diverse range of vegetables, including common options like potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, onions, lettuce, and carrots, as well as heritage squashes, various types of tubers – such as the increasingly popular yakón – and delicious avocados that rank among the best I’ve ever tasted.
Compared to veggies available in other regions, Colombian vegetables are quite affordable and are readily available throughout the country.
If you enjoy cheese, there are plenty of options available. You can choose from a variety of local cheeses or mainstream cheese varieties that are sold by artisans or at supermarkets across the country.
You can even find good tofu in Barranquilla. It can be found in grocery stores labeled as “Queso de Soya” in the deli section, but the tastiest option is sold in Clorofila (a vegetarian restaurant) or in EcoSiente, which is an organic produce and local products store in the city.
17 Vegetarian Colombian Dishes
As we just learned, Colombian cuisine is as diverse and delicious as its people, and it has something to offer even for vegetarians. You’ll find a range of vegetarian Colombian dishes that are perfect for any meal. From hearty stews to light salads, these recipes can be adapted to suit vegan diets too.
So, without further ado, here are 17 delicious vegetarian Colombian dishes that you must try:
Patacones are fried discs of green plantain, served as an appetizer or side dish. The plantains are peeled and cut into thick slices, then deep-fried twice until they’re golden brown.
Patacones are usually served with a variety of sauces, such as ají (a spicy sauce made from red chili peppers), hogao (a mild tomato-based sauce), or you can just eat it with cheese and avocado. They’re a delicious and crunchy snack, perfect for any occasion!
Arepas are a traditional Colombian dish made with ground maize flour that is shaped into small discs or patties and then either stuffed or topped with cheese, vegetables, or meat.
As a vegetarian, you can enjoy arepas filled with avocado or topped with fresh tomatoes, onions, cheese, and avocado.
Quinoa is a popular grain in Colombia and it can be used as an alternative to rice or couscous. This superfood is packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
There are several ways to prepare quinoa in Colombian cuisine, such as making salads with fresh vegetables or adding it to soups for some extra flavor. Quinoa can also be cooked with vegetables and spices to make a hearty vegetarian-friendly meal.
To add more flavor, quinoa can be cooked with coconut milk and served as a side dish or even combined with other ingredients for a delicious vegan main course. Quinoa is definitely a great option for anyone looking to enjoy traditional Colombian cuisine in a healthier and vegetarian way!
Sancocho is a traditional soup that is usually made with chicken but can also be prepared with vegetarian ingredients. It typically features herbs and vegetables like potatoes, yuca, carrots, onions, garlic, and cilantro simmered in a flavorful broth.
Vegetarians can easily ask for a vegan sancocho by swapping out the chicken for mushrooms or beans to give it more protein. The soup is usually served with a side of avocado, corn tortillas, and lime wedges for extra flavor.
Tamales are a popular Colombian dish made with corn dough and filled with a variety of ingredients.
Traditional tamales are usually filled with meat, but vegetarians can enjoy them just as much by swapping out the meat for plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, or tofu. The dough is then steamed in banana leaves until it is light and fluffy.
6. Arroz con Vegetales or Coco
Arroz con Vegetales or Coco is a classic Colombian dish made with rice, vegetables, and coconut milk. This hearty vegan meal is a great way to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals without compromising on flavor.
The combination of vegetables, and tender grains of rice cooked in flavorful coconut milk creates an incredibly tasty dish that will satisfy all your taste buds.
7. Vegetarian Empanadas
Colombian empanadas are a popular street food snack that can also be made into vegan or vegetarian versions.
They are made with dough and filled with a variety of ingredients, including vegetables and spices like onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika, cilantro, peppers, and potatoes. The dough is then deep-fried or baked until it is golden brown and crispy.
The best part is that they are easy to make and can be adapted to suit any dietary restrictions!
8. Frijoles (Colombian Beans)
Frijoles are a staple of Colombian cuisine, made with black beans and cooked in a flavorful broth. This traditional dish is usually served as an accompaniment to rice or arepas, but it can also be enjoyed on its own.
The beans are simmered with aromatics like onions, garlic, and cumin, as well as tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes.
9. Papas Rellenas
Papas Rellenas are a popular Colombian dish made with potatoes and filled with vegetables and spices. The mashed potatoes are shaped into balls, then stuffed with a mixture of vegetables like onions, garlic, bell peppers, mushrooms, and cilantro.
The potato croquettes are then deep-fried until they’re golden brown and crispy on the outside while still being soft and fluffy on the inside.
These delicious potato balls are usually served with a side of sour cream, guacamole, or ají. They’re the perfect snack to share with family and friends or enjoy as an appetizer before your meal.
Cayeye is a Colombian dish made from boiled green plantains, then mashed and fried. It’s usually served with cheese, hogao (a tomato sauce), or avocado as toppings.
The plantain mash is slightly sweet in flavor and has a soft yet crunchy texture. Cayeye can be enjoyed on its own as a snack or side dish, or it can be filled with vegetables, cheese, or beans for a heartier meal.
The versatility of this dish makes it perfect for vegetarians who want to experience traditional Colombian cuisine without compromising on taste and flavor.
Changua is a comforting Colombian breakfast dish made with milk, eggs, and scallions. The ingredients are simmered in a pot until the milk thickens and coats the eggs and scallions. It’s typically served with warm bread or arepas to make a complete meal.
This traditional Colombian dish can be enjoyed by vegetarians as well by substituting eggs for tofu and adding vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
Changua also has several regional variations, such as adding potatoes or cheese to the dish. It’s a delicious way to start your day, whether you’re vegan or vegetarian!
Aborrajados are a great option for vegetarians, as they provide a good source of energy and fiber. Aborrajados are a type of fried plantain dish, popular in Colombia. The plantains are cut into thick slices and then deep-fried until they’re golden brown and crispy on the outside. They can be eaten alone as a snack or side dish, but they’re often served with cheese, hogao (a tomato sauce), and avocado.
Carimanola is a traditional Colombian dish made with boiled yuca stuffed with beef, pork, or chicken. The filling is then wrapped in the yuca and fried until it’s golden brown and crispy on the outside.
Vegetarians can enjoy this delicious dish just as much by substituting meat for vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and garlic. The result is a flavorful and hearty meal that can be served as an appetizer or main course.
The carimanola is usually served with a tangy sauce like salsa, made from tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and other ingredients for extra flavor. It’s the perfect way to enjoy traditional Colombian cuisine without compromising on taste!
Ajiaco is a traditional Colombian soup made with chicken, potatoes, corn on the cob, and cream. It’s a comforting dish that gives you a warm hug in a bowl!
Vegetarians can enjoy this delicious soup by swapping out the chicken for mushrooms or beans to give it more flavor and texture. The potatoes, corn, and cream all combine to create a thick and creamy soup base that is full of flavor.
Ajiaco is typically served with white rice, avocado slices, capers, and a slice of lime for an extra kick of acidity. This hearty vegan dish is perfect for a cold winter day!
15. Jackfruit Lechona
Lechona is a popular Colombian dish made with jackfruit, pork, and spices. It’s usually served as an appetizer or main dish accompanied by rice. This vegetarian version of the traditional lechona uses jackfruit as the meat substitute and is topped with crispy peas for an extra crunchy texture.
The combination of herbs and spices gives this dish its unique flavor, while the jackfruit and peas provide a hearty and satisfying meal.
16. Sudado de Berenjena (Eggplant Stew)
Sudado de Berenjena is a vegetarian-friendly Colombian dish that features eggplant, tomatoes, and onions cooked together in a flavorful broth.
This stew is full of vibrant flavors and textures – the smoky eggplant, sweet tomatoes, and savory onions combine to create an incredibly delicious meal. It’s savory, filling, and perfect for vegetarians!
The dish is traditionally served hot with a side of white rice, but it’s also great as a cold salad.
17. Bandeja Paisa
Bandeja Paisa is a traditional Colombian dish from the Antioquia region. It’s made up of a generous portion of white rice, red kidney beans, sautéed plantains, fried egg (or tofu for vegans), avocado slices, and a variety of other vegetables.
This hearty vegan meal has all the flavors and textures you need to fill you up!
The plantains are fried in a savory combination of onions, garlic, and cumin that give the dish its distinct flavor. The sautéed vegetables provide an extra layer of texture as well as nutrients.
The rice helps to balance out the flavors and round out the meal. To top it off, the creamy avocado slices provide a delicious contrast to the rest of the ingredients!
It’s sure to become a favorite for any vegetarian and vegan looking to enjoy traditional Colombian cuisine.
Wrap-Up: Vegetarian Colombian Food
And there you have it – some of my favorite Colombian vegetarian dishes that are sure to tantalize your taste buds!
Whether you’re looking for something to snack on or a full-blown meal in the richest cities of Colombia, this vegetarian Colombian food will definitely satisfy you.
So dig in and enjoy the amazing flavors Colombia has to offer!
Giorgy, the founder of G-Extreme Travel, is a quirky and adventurous person who aims to inspire others to step out of their comfort zones. She is currently in Colombia, traveling incognito as a tourist, and continuing her mission to empower people.
She assists more than 100,000 individuals each month in planning their trips and excursions in Cartagena.