Aruba Updates The Menu Again To Tempt Vegan Tastebuds
Foodies' heaven Aruba is cooking up a new reputation as the perfect destination for healthy eaters.
Now it is also embracing the growing trend for vegan and vegetarian diets and despite a deeply-rooted food culture that favours meat, fish and barbecues, there are more and more options to eat healthier.
With the recent launch of www.veganaruba.com it is easier than ever to stay up to date with where to eat, shop and meet up with the vegan community at fun events. Even the popular Pastechi House in downtown Oranjestad, the island's capital – a mecca for the iconic savoury-filled pastry snack, pastechi – has launched a vegan version.
Other initiatives are regularly popping up: Happy Buddha Aruba, an established yoga centre, has launched Vegan Nights, a social gathering providing information on nutrition, vegan food options and even vegan wine.
Meanwhile, in second city San Nicolas, in the south of the island, 25-year-old Tristan Nedd, forced by injury to give up professional baseball, has opened Mundi Health Café, with its vegetarian/vegan menu, in an abandoned 1940s former store owned by his family.
This growing trend means vegetarians and vegans can fully enjoy Aruba's annual Eat Local event, which runs throughout October and highlights authentic Aruban cuisine. Restaurants' prix-fixe meals allow visitors to enjoy local cuisine for a very reasonable price, with lunches costing $15 (approx. £11.50) and dinners $30 - $40 (£23 - £30).
No passes, tickets or vouchers are required— attending diners can simply visit their favourite participating restaurants throughout the programme dates to enjoy the special menu offerings. More than 65 restaurants sign up for this culinary event and incorporate authentic local dishes in their menu. Reservations are always recommended!
With dozens of vegan and vegetarian restaurants to choose from in Aruba, where does the hungry visitor start? The following five are highly rated by locals:
Fishes & More is a popular seafood restaurant in Palm Beach, close to popular hotels, and has recently launched a new sea-inspired vegan menu. Calamari vegani is a vegan version of a traditional dish made with hearts of palm and enoki mushrooms.
For those who have never tasted vegan cheese, Elements is the place to go. It is reputed to have the most extensive vegan menu on the island, with a variety of plant-based options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their smoked vegan choose is home-made and melted inside three soft tortillas with black beans and sautéed vegetables. The restaurant is located beachfront at the Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort.
A relatively recent addition to the list of vegan restaurant is Las Ramblas, nearby also on Eagle Beach. Dishes include an aubergine rollatini, made with vegan cheese, and tamarind tofu.
Meanwhile in downtown Oranjestad, Cuba's Cookin' has a vegan version of a classic favourite, BBQ ribs. These are made from thick slice of Portobello mushrooms and pared with tostones, black beans, rice and mixed vegetables. Cuba's Cookin' is located at Renaissance Marketplace.
A three-course vegan tasting menu is available at Ike's Bistro, based at Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa on Eagle Beach. From creamy butternut squash soup to cauliflower steak, the menu offers a full gourmet vegan experience.