Being a Vegetarian in Cartagena, Colombia

South America isn’t exactly known for its vast plethora of vegetarian options, and Cartagena, Colombia is no exception.

That being said, I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years, and I managed to find plenty to eat during the eight days I spent in Cartagena (and various beaches nearby).

As long as you like corn-based foods and melted cheese, you’ll be good to go.

That’s essentially what two of the most popular foods in Cartagena are–both an arepa and an empañada are basically cornmeal dumplings filled with cheese and/or vegetables, egg, etc. They can also be filled with meat, but those are as common as ones with just cheese, and they’re all completely delicious.

Although sold in restaurants all around Cartagena, arepas and empañadas are also commonly sold in street food carts, which are everywhere and super cheap.

The carts are also a good place to grab late night munchies after you stumble out of the club at 4 a.m., since many of them also sell kebabs. I got corn on the cob from a cart a couple times, and once the dude even put a bunch of potatoes with salsa on a stick for me, which was way better than I’m making it sound.

Colombia is also home to a zillion different kinds of fruit, which I realize isn’t exactly the most filling. But go to a nearby supermarket, pick up a few fruits, buy some yogurt (you can get a pack of six yogurt cups for 6 copa, which is the equivalent of $2 USD), hack those bad boys up, chuck them in a yogurt cup and you’re in business.

As with anywhere, don’t let the lack of a bunch of vegetarian options scare you into not going. Cartagena is beautiful, cheap, and to be fair, I was still craving arepas a week after I left.

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