Being vegan, or even vegetarian, is fairly rare in the Dominican Republic. Animal products, particularly meat and eggs, are dietary staples in the vast majority of families. People who are exposed to world-wide media tend to see veganism and vegetarianism more as passing fads than anything else, though veganism is growing in the circles of those who travel and have access to the latest information about healthy lifestyles.
If you are staying in a hotel, you’ll be fine if they serve buffet meals as you will find fruits, salads, corn, rice and other grains there. There are a handful of vegetarian friendly resorts worth checking out.In larger towns, vegan options or vegetarian options (that can be made vegan) are frequent in mainstream restaurants (see LOCAL FOOD page). Otherwise the local cuisine in the villages or countryside will almost always include animal products. Beware, the word “meat” is often used as synonym for “red meat”, hence specifying that you don’t eat poultry or fish is essential. There is also a “secret ingredient” frequently used in the local cuisine, which is concentrated chicken broth (known as “caldito”). Most Dominicans won’t categorize this as an animal product but more as a taste enhancer. You should specifically ask if the food is prepared with “caldito” to make sure your food is vegan.
Don’t forget to enjoy the fruits, either as juices or on plates, especially the passion-fruit and pineapple when in season. If you are staying longer and have your own kitchen, large supermarkets will carry a good number of vegan products such as plant-based milks. Buy your veggies in the open markets whenever possible, though neither there nor in the supermarkets will you find a wide variety of leafy-greens. You will easily find corn, tomatoes, cabbage, okra, red peppers, plantains and mostly anything you need to be a healthy, happy vegan in the Dominican Republic.
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