« Pura Vida » is Costa Rica’s unofficial national motto. You can say “la Pura Vida” to say hello, goodbye, or even thank you. This shows you just how important the clean, good life is to Costa Ricans. Fitness as well as a healthy lifestyle have become central to many. As a consequence, the vegan community has also been growing by leaps and bounds in the last 5 years.
But one has to acknowledge that Costa Rica did not have far to go to get healthy. Its traditional cuisine (see LOCAL FOOD page) rests on thevegan pillars of rice and beans, which can be eaten in
different forms at any time of day. In fact, you will most likely start your breakfast with Gallo Pinto, a layering of beans over rice with a tortilla and vegetables of your choice. You might have rice and beans again for lunch, this time under the name of a Casado Vegetariano, surrounded by fried plantains and a salad or some stir-fried vegetables.
Brown rice is uncommon, unless you get lucky at a vegan restaurant. But try your luck by asking the (usually English speaking, if not see VEGAN WORDS page) restaurant staff to veganize some of the dishes on the menu. It works very well and unlike some of the other countries in Latin America, you should not be surprised by pieces of meat in your veggies. People often understand what vegano means, and all understand that when you say “sin carne, pescado, leche y huevos”, you mean it.
You might think that you’d get bored of rice and beans after a while but the magic thing is that not one of these medleys tastes the same and different veggies will be served with it, for a nice variety. Make sure you try the avocados, among some of the best in Central America. Ah, and the fresh fruit juices at least once a day!
Don’t forget to go to the open markets, usually open all week except Sundays. Though as far as proteins are concerned, you should be eating enough rice and beans to fulfill your daily quota. Enjoy La Vida Pura! As a vegan you should have it easy here.
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