Going to Argentina but you don’t eat meat? No problem! Contrary to popular belief, and what many bloggers have written about my country, it is possible to survive an entire trip without eating just salad. There has been a cultural shift and travellers can find vegetarian and even vegan restaurants in big cities like Buenos Aires. And although they don’t spell it out, many restaurants provide vegetarian-friendly options. Vegetables, grains and cereals have played an important role in Argentinean cuisine and some traditional dishes do not contain even a whiff of animal protein (with the exception of eggs and cheese.)
So let’s get stuck in!
Pizza, pasta and empanadas
These are the obvious and easiest choices, especially for those who do not speak enough Spanish. Let’s get them out of the way first Don’t get me wrong, I love all three of them dearly but it can get boring after a while. Anyway, in case you’re tempted by pizza, these are some of my favourites in Buenos Aires: Los Inmortales, El Cuartito, Kentucky. Meat-free empanada fillings include choclo (sweet corn), queso y cebolla (cheese and onion), espinaca (spinach with bechamel sauce), or Caprese (tomato and cheese).
Tartas and pasteles (quiches and savoury pies)
Quiche and a side salad is a very popular lunch combo among office workers. It’s quick, healthy, affordable, and tasty. We eat a lot of quiches. I regularly make them at home. Be aware that most contain cheese and/or eggs. One of the best-known pies is tarta pascualina, a savoury spinach or Swiss chard (acelga) pie traditionally eaten around Easter time but we enjoy it all year round. See recipe here. Some popular tarta fillings include choclo (we do love sweet corn in everything!), acelga (Swiss chard), queso y cebolla, puerros (leeks), berenjena (eggplant), and tricolor (butternut squash, spinach, and ricotta cheese).
Rice-, grain- and pulse-based dishes
Risottos and other rice dishes are relatively common. Humita is a creamy dish made with grated fresh corn, onion, and spices. Humita en chala consists of humita and cheese wrapped in corn husks and boiled. The pastel de zapallo, choclo y miel is a warming and filling winter dish made with butternut squash, sweet corn and honey. There are different variations of this dish, and they are all delicious. Guiso de lentejas (lentil stew) is very tasty but make sure it doesn’t contain chorizo or other meats. Spanish and Italian restaurants offer rice and pasta based dishes that are vegetarian as well.
Some restaurants offer dishes and side dishes that are health- and weight-conscious, like panaché de verduras, an array of boiled vegetables and sometimes pulses like garbanzo beans. Similarly, you can order vegetales grillados, grilled veggies. Tortillas (Spanish omelets) are also ubiquitous: tortilla de papa (egg and potato), tortilla de acelga, tortilla de alcauciles (artichokes) are some of the most popular.
These dishes can be found in most cities and towns and are more or less generic. However, each region has its own cuisine, which includes vegetarian dishes.