Thursday, January 14, 2010


Being vegan isn't hard. Never really has been.

The first couple of weeks were a little difficult, while I was still trying to figure out what I could eat and what I couldn't, but ever since then it's been a walk in the park.

Eating vegan in Peru? That seems like it might be a little bit tricky.

I'm going on a ten day trip to Peru in May. We're backpacking for a few days and heading to Machu Pichu. I've never been out of the country before (except for one amazing visit to Tijuana, Mexico) so I'm pretty excited. The only problem is that I have no clue how I'm going to eat for those two weeks.

Clint found a Peruvian restaurant in Bountiful that—either on their website or through word of mouth—was apparently vegan friendly. Casey wanted us to all kind of get used to eating Peruvian food, so we decided to cross the border going north and check it out.

Nathan and I are the only two of the 8 people going that are vegan, so at least I won't be alone in struggling to eat. But we were both pretty excited to try vegan Peruvian food. When we walked through the front door of MIA, we thought it was closed. There wasn't a single person visible inside and the only semblance of life was a TV in the corner showing a scrambled soap opera.

Two women poked their heads from the back and looked genuinely shocked to see the six of us. I'm not sure if the shock was to seeing customers in general or to seeing six heavily tattooed guys (well, 5 and me) walking through the front door. My guess is the former. It doesn't look like that place does too much business at all.

We sat down at the table and one of the women handed us menus. They were paper to-go menu's that doubled as a 10% off coupon. On the back of the menu was a whole section labeled "Vegan & Vegetarian" which excited both Nathan and I. We weren't going to have to worry about much. They also offered a vegan empanada that was buried inside the first page. It was a pretty good variety, too.

When the woman came over to take our order, she started with Nathan.
"I'll get the vegan Stir Fry and Chickpeas," he said.
The woman looked at him as though he'd just asked her to slaughter a cat and serve it to him. She said nothing.
Nathan pointed to the menu, which she immediately grabbed from his hand and walked away.
We all looked at each other in silence. A few seconds later, she came back.
"Okay," she said. And looked at me.
"I'll have the Broccoli with Chickpeas," I said.
Same look as before for a second or two before grabbing the menu and walking to the kitchen again.
She came back to the table and said, "We don't have broccoli."
Then I'll get the same thing that he got, and pointed to Nathan.
Everyone else ordered and Nathan tried to add one more thing.
"Can I get one of the vegan empanada's?"
A confused look while Nathan points to the menu.
"Oh. Chicken or beef?" she asked.
"No, the vegan one."
"Right. Chicken or beef?"

Now, I'm not one of those people that thinks every single restaurant should have a vegan option. I'm perfectly happy going to the places that already offer those and don't mind fending for myself when I'm the odd man out on vacations or trips.

That said, why would you even offer a vegan option if you have no plans of following through with actually keeping them on hand? Don't lure me places with the promise of delicious vegan options only to give me a "Oh, we don't actually have those. It's merely a formality." attitude. That bothers me.

Anyway, back to the story. Chickpeas are delicious and, while I was skeptical, I was actually looking forward to what I ordered. Then it came. She brought out both plates and set them down in front of Nathan and I and said, "Looks good?"
We both looked at her and agreed.
Then she walked away and we looked at each other and laughed.
What we had in front of us was a plate of spaghetti noodles and few thawed out and warmed up carrots and regular peas. Not a chickpea in sight.

Of course we ate it (Nathan more than me) but that doesn't mean we enjoyed it. Everyone else loved what they ordered (especially the ceviche) and counted the place as a success. Nathan and I spent most of the drive back discussing how we should probably ship as much ready-to-eat food to the hotel we're staying in the first night.

Because if we don't, I have a feeling we'll starve to death before the trip is over.

1 comment:

  1. i went to machu pichu in 2005 and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. i had a pretty easy time finding vegetarian-friendly food, but i have no idea about vegan friendly! sorry i cant be of more help. have so much fun- it will be amazing!