South Peru is best known as being the basecamp for those visiting Machu Picchu or embarking on a trek on the infamous Inca Trail. For the veggie traveller who dreams of seeing these sacred ruins up close and personal, there is no need to go hungry. Cusco is an incredibly veggie-friendly city with many of its restaurants offering vegetarian set menus (a daily meal that often comes with a soup, entrée, juice and dessert at an affordable price). There are also a number of restaurants that are exclusively or mostly vegetarian with dishes that offer gastronomical delight to sustain the traveller between treks and other adventures.
Best selection: Green Point
This vegan restaurant run by a couple from Lima is a favourite among vegan and non-vegan foodies. They offer a daily set menu as well as a number of innovative and gourmet dishes and desserts, such as vegan risotto and an amazing green apple and balsamic salad topped with raw brazil nut cheese. You can also pick up vegan chocolate and raw nut milks here.
Most fun: Hare Krishna temple
Visit for the weekly Kirtan and follow up your vegetarian dinner by singing and dancing into the night with other revellers. Be warned that you will likely be singing the Hare Krishna songs for days to come. The temple also offers a daily lunch on the cheap. The head chef is a vegan, but the meals sometimes include dairy or eggs – ask to confirm.
Splurge: Greens Organic
A chic, contemporary restaurant in the heart of Cusco, Greens Organic offers beautiful dishes made from fresh, organic ingredients. While not everything on the menu is vegan-friendly, there is definitely a wide and varied selection of items that are. For a fashionable date night with friends or that special someone, eat dinner here before visiting the nearby pisco museum for after-dinner drinks. Try the mango raviolis (above) stuffed with apple and smothered in a passion fruit coulis for dessert.
Baked goods: Natural Yogurt
Looking for vegan brownies or muffins for a sweet pick me up when away from home? Look no further than Natural Yogurt. They also stock vegan burgers and homemade soy yogurt.
Vegetarian Kitchen: Healing House
Looking for a place to stay where you don’t need to worry about a fridge full of meat? Healing House is a non-profit hostel set in a lovely home in the centre of the artistic San Blas neighbourhood. Also a centre for yoga classes, meditation, and a variety of holistic healing treatments, Healing House offers a fully equipped vegetarian kitchen for guests to use.
Honourable mention: Prasada
Tucked away on a stairwell next to Healing House, this restaurant is run by a laid-back chef who offers his tasty dishes with a happy “Pura Vida.” Not to be confused with the Prasada on the street below, this sit-down restaurant has a variety of deliciously satisfying burgers, tacos and salads.
Don’t worry about going meatless in Cusco. There are plenty of options for the herbivore travellers out there!
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