One thing I want to start doing more is blogging on eating raw vegan in different parts of the world. The reason being, whenever I travel somewhere new I’m always doing a ton of research on how to eat healthy there, how I can access fruit, what kinds of restaurants I might be able to eat at, what areas are the most vegan-friendly, food safety conditions, and any other useful info that I might need to know. This takes a lot of time and often there is just no real info out there from raw vegan travelers. Vegan travelers, yes. But raw vegans who are traveling the world……. almost non-existent!
I want to know, with my specialized fruit-centric diet, how well will I be able to source food and be healthy in other countries. I don’t just want to travel… I want to travel while feeling and eating my best. So I’ve decided to start creating a resource here for fellow raw vegan travelers and health nuts who are looking for the same. And my first post is on Belize where I’m currently backpacking!
I haven’t been to all that many areas in Belize, so I will only be writing on what I’ve seen so far and my experience with eating healthy there. So far, I’ve been to Belize City, Ladyville, Orange Walk, and Placencia. Out of all these spots, Placencia is where I’ve spent the bulk of my time. It’s really beautiful here and fairly easy to eat raw!
A few of my favourite pics:
Being a tropical country, Belize of course has plenty of delicious, ripe fruit and it’s quite cheap compared to produce in the states (though not quite as cheap as some fruit in Southeast Asia). I have purchased bananas 7 for $1 USD; whole papayas and pineapple for between $1-2 each; and 12-17lb watermelons ranging between $4 – $7 each. When I calculate how much fruit I eat on average in one day (which is mostly what I’m living on here) it comes to around $8 USD. Not bad! I am really packing in the fruit here:)
The thing I like about buying produce in Belize is that I don’t seem to get ripped off as much as some other places. I got very used to this happening in Southeast Asia where the price of most things is regularly inflated for anyone who looks like a tourist. It’s still cheap, much cheaper than anything I’m used to paying back home, but just a little annoying that two different prices exist in the first place. For whatever reason I haven’t experienced this in Belize… at least to my knowledge!😂
In wintertime here, I’m finding lots of ripe watermelon, papaya, bananas, and OMG… pineapple! Let me just say… I rarely ever eat pineapple in the states because after a few bites it starts tasting way too acidic and burns my tongue and throat. Pineapple is usually one of my least favourite fruits. But in Belize the pineapple is out of this world!! The flesh is deep yellow, like the colour of grass-fed butter. It’s super sweet and juicy and so perfectly ripened from the warm sun that it practically melts in your mouth when you eat it. I think this is what good pineapple actually tastes like but it’s just so hard to find ones like this in the states.
If you go to Belize, please eat the pineapple!
Overall I have not found any strictly vegan restaurants in Belize except for a small food stand in the city, but if your main goal is to simply eat vegan here you won’t have much trouble. Rice, beans and plantains are standard and you can always ask for veggie tacos and things like that. For me, I am pretty much relying on the fruit markets, which thankfully there are plenty of! So far, everywhere I’ve been, even Ladyville which feels pretty sparse and residential to me, has fruit markets. When you travel you’re almost always going to be eating non-organic, so I usually go for the fruits that have a non-edible peel – this way you’re eating less pesticides and chemicals. You also don’t have to deal with the awkward situation of washing your fruit in tap water that’s unsafe to drink.
I’m pretty much living off my four faves here – bananas, papaya, pineapple and watermelon. I’m already used to eating fruit for the majority of the day and the fruit here is just so sweet and satisfying… I feel totally content with my breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Truthfully I’d like a little something else for dinner – maybe because I’m used to eating more variety at dinner but also because vegetables are important in a healthy diet! I don’t usually eat salads or raw food from restaurants unless I really trust them, so I’ve been having a few simple cooked foods for dinner. (Maybe I should write a post on this in the future on why it’s a good idea to mostly avoid restaurant raw food. I will get back to this topic!).
Here’s a quick rundown of what’s available in each of the areas I’ve been to and what I’ve gotten:
Orange Walk – I stayed right in the middle of town here and it was such a great decision. There’s a nice sized fruit market with several vendors open during the day (I believe it closes at 5pm) and I found the fruit here to be priced much lower than in the more touristy Placencia. I also found THE best pineapple here in addition to fresh coconut water and coconut meat. As far as restaurants go, I became totally infatuated with Nahil Mayab which serves baked potatoes and a really simple, non-oily vegan chickpea vegetable soup. So good!
Ladyville – A quiet residential area where you will definitely need a car or taxi to get to any food markets or restaurants. I didn’t come with a car so for me this was not a great area to stay in but it is close to the airport and a safer area to stay in over Belize City. I asked my taxi driver to take me to a fruit stand and found a nice one in Ladyville that had everything I was looking for, plus avocados! I did a lot of searching but there are really no good health-friendly restaurants here whatsoever – mainly pizza and chinese food.
Belize City – I didn’t spent a ton of time in this area because truthfully many spots here are not the safest. The Celebrity Restaurant and Riverside Tavern both have vegan-friendly options. There’s an outdoor food stand called Vegan Bites that I chose not to try as it didn’t seem to have anything I could eat… very grain and soy meat-based. But it might be worth checking out if you’re nearby. There are some nice fruit markets scattered about here though and also several grocery stores.
Placencia – My happy place 🙂 A laidback beachy area that has a few fruit markets and a smoothie spot. One of the fruit markets right in town is especially nice with a large selection of fruits, even some imported ones like apples, grapes, kiwi, etc. There’s a cafe on the beach called The Shak which has a huge selection of fruit smoothies including some seaweed ones. And in case you’re wondering, the smoothies don’t have any added sugar or juices.. just fruit and ice. The best smoothie there, in my opinion, is the guava one. I am totally obsessed and would happily drink this all day (but I won’t)! There are a few restaurants that have vegan-friendly options. The Shak actually has a vegan curry that I haven’t tried but was tempted to.
The restaurant I’ve been returning back to again and again in Placencia is Dawn’s Grill. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this place! Not only is veganism understood there by the servers (on their menu they have a side-note that says to ask about vegan options) but they were super accommodating. As always, I just wanted something very simple… they have baked potatoes on their menu and I asked if they might be able to make me a plate with a couple of those plus some steamed veggies. No problem! They even offered to put some cajun seasoning and garlic on the veggies which was an incredibly sweet gesture. If you are a high-carb vegan or anyone who likes to eat simple, I can’t recommend Dawn’s Grill enough – vegan and health-friendly!
I was supposed to go to Caye Caulker but changed my travel plans at the last minute – my newsletter peeps know about what happened with that 😉 so unfortunately I don’t have a food review for the island. I do hear that there are vegan options though, as well as fruit stands and some small grocery stores.
Overall, it’s fairly easy to eat raw/vegan in Belize, as long as you’re not wanting a huge variety of different raw foods or anything gourmet raw. I think I’d be going a little crazy if I wasn’t mixing things up at dinner by incorporating a bit of cooked food for variety and nutrients. As well as taking my daily spirulina supplements! I do also have a big bag of dates that I’ve been snacking on daily from the states.. they were a pain to carry in my backpack at the time but I’m so grateful to have them on hand now! Dates = a raw vegan traveler’s best friend 🙂
Have you backpacked to Belize before or anywhere in Central America as a vegan or raw foodist? What was your experience like? I’d love to know! :)) I plan to do a lot more posts like this and of course I will be writing on raw vegan travel in Southeast Asia soon… there is much to say!