As in other cities around the world, vegan consumption is growing in several cities in Bolivia. If you had visited La Paz a few years ago, it would have been very hard for you to find vegan options to eat. But nowadays, you can spot someone offering a vegan option almost anywhere in the city, nestled in the Andes Mountains. (La Paz is the highest-elevation capital city in the world.)
One can find fast food, national food, street food, healthy food, or even gourmet food that is not made with animal products. This is happening because of many factors, like the recognition of animals as sentient beings; the local culture that understands the environment as mother nature; the return of ancient foods (that don’t include animals), or the recent pandemic that is making people eat more vegetables and less meat.
La Paz is the third-largest city in Bolivia, where the vegan movement is growing nonstop. Here, people have a rule about purchases: it has to be “Bueno, bonito, barato” (good, beautiful, cheap). Let´s take a look at some of the vegan offers that one can find:
Lupito is one of the most beloved restaurants in the city. It has a very homey vibe, with their recycled furniture, and animal love messages all over the walls. It is a house located in sopocachi, a hectic neighborhood where most of the population of La Paz is concentrated. Their whole menu is vegan and changes every day, offering two dishes, several desserts, and fresh juices. For only 25 Bs (3,5 US$) you can get a soup, a main dish, and a dessert. Besides, on Saturdays, they offer traditional dishes full of flavor and in very big portions. You will never leave Lupito unsatisfied. It is so popular that even non-vegans are major clients. They donate part of their income to dog and cat rescue.
If you are craving something sweet, Lecker Brot is the bakery that will save you. It opened almost 20 years ago, and when the daughter of the owner took over in 2019, she decided to offer vegan sweets, like cakes, brownies, cinnamon rolls, cookies, caramel cookies, croissants, and more. They combine German and Bolivian flavors, are continuously experimenting and launching new items, so it is always a nice surprise to visit their shops in the city’s family neighborhoods.
This is the best-located vegan and vegetarian dinner, because it is in El Prado, the busiest avenue of the city, where energy is flowing all day and all night long. It is almost hidden between two buildings, but it manages to attract many clients with its varied food. Every day they offer a new menu, and with 20 Bs. (almost 3 US$) you get soup and a main dish. Besides, they offer vegan pizzas, hamburgers, cakes, brownies, and cinnamon cookies. Don´t forget to ask for the vegan options!
Aguacate started as a small business that sold vegan food in street fairs, and now it is one of the most popular vegan restaurants in La Paz. They are driven by the concept of conscious food, offering seasonal products, which make their menu very dynamic. Think: quesadillas with tarwi cheese (tarwi is an Andean nutritious grain that has more calcium than cow’s milk) or pizza with yuca cheese (yuca is a tuber that grows in the tropics of Bolivia). They never stop wowing their clients by veganizing the most popular national and international dishes.
This is one of the most accessible restaurants of the city: it has a fast-food menu from noon to late night from Monday to Sunday and has two shops: one downtown and one in a more laid-back neighborhood. Their design is very casual, with rock music in the background and pictures of vegan celebrities like Lisa Simpson. They offer burgers, nuggets, paninis, and salads, plus a full lunch at noon and national dishes on weekends. There was a time when vegans didn’t have anything to eat out, but they are long gone since restaurants like these open. Don´t forget to ask about their burger of the month!
La Olla Rebelde
This is a vegan punk project that organizes street fairs and events to sell food in collaboration with other artists. They change locations, so it is not unusual to see them at concerts, book presentations and art galleries, offering tasty food. On June 23, Bolivia celebrates a holiday called San Juan where it is a tradition to eat hotdogs. La Olla Rebelde made these awesome vegan versions.
La Huerta is a healthy market that offers ecological products, including vegan options. It is located in two of the busiest neighborhoods of La Paz, which is very convenient if you are in a hurry to buy something to cook at home. You can find proteins, like sausages, hamburgers, and tempeh; plant milks, cheese, vegan Nutella made with Amazonian nuts, chocolate bars, cookies, and brownie batter. They even sell cosmetic products, such as face creams, hair treatment serum, and lip balms.
These are just some of the vegan offers that La Paz city has to offer, but there are many more, like traditional markets that sold vegan food way long it was a popular phenomenon, or up and coming businesses that sell their products through social networks or in street fairs. The offer is so wide, that people can find products from all range prices, showing that vegan food isn´t supposed to be expensive and exclusive, especially in a country where most of the local and popular protein fountains are grains like quinoa and lentils.
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Photo: Wikipedia; respective brands