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Puerto Vallarta – From Healthy Eating to Vegan

Traveling to unfamiliar cultural regions with vegan or specific dietary restrictions can be very intimidating, especially with a language barrier. While I am not a vegan, I am an infrequent meat eater. While in Mexico, I thought it would be interesting to see how easy or difficult it would be to adhere to a vegan or vegetarian diet. Turns out, Puerto Vallarta makes it easy to eat healthily or avoid meat with a diversity of restaurants to choose from.

Puerto vallarta vegan restaurants

Helpful Spanish Phrases for the Vegetarian and Vegan Eater

During the course of my food journeys, I picked up a few key phrases important to making sure dietary restrictions are being met. While the general concept of veganism was known, there seemed to be a lot of misunderstandings about which ingredients are allowed. Chefs and servers were always more than happy to accommodate very specific requests and modifications. I found it incredibly important to double-check all ingredients. I tend to have the same common issues with miscommunication back home, too.

  • sin queso – without cheese
  • sin grasa – without fat/lard/grease
  • solamente – only
  • solamente frutas – only fruit
  • solamente vegetales – only vegetables
  • vegetariana/o – vegetarian
  • vegana/o – vegan
  • sin leche – without milk
  • leche de almendras – almond milk
  • leche de vaca – cow’s milk
Puerto vallarta vegan burger

Finding Healthy Food Options

As a food mecca, Puerto Vallarta is a haven for many different cuisines and cultures. There is something out there for whatever your palate is craving. That said, avocados tend to be a staple with every meal (and I’m not complaining).

Puerto vallarta botanical gardens vegan salad
Puerto vallarta healthy food

Vegan Restaurants and Food Carts

If you are seeking a pure L.A.-type vegan food “experience” in Puerto Vallarta, you might be hard-pressed to find one. However, there are plenty of vegan/vegetarian restaurants to choose from, as well as restaurants that have specific vegan options. Even if there were no vegan or vegetarian dishes on the menu, every restaurant I visited was able to modify them as necessary.

Puerto vallarta vegan restaurant modified

Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants

This list includes restaurants in and around Puerto Vallarta which are vegan or vegetarian only.

Food Carts

I had amazing success in finding vegan food from popup stands and taco carts. The search was surprisingly easier and more prolific than querying restaurants. The place to go is the local farmer’s markets. There will most likely be at least two food vendors with vegan dishes. Whether you are the type of vegan who prefers fresh and raw produce, or if you enjoy your food cooked and sauced, you will find tons of unique flavors and spices everywhere.

Puerto vallarta vegan plate soy

If you find yourself at a taco cart, utilize the phrases above and get a taco (or 4) with “solamente” beans, rice, cabbage, grilled onion, cilantro, and of course salsa and hot sauce.

Puerto vallarta vegan food truck

You’ll also find yourself walking by many carts selling coconuts. You can choose how green versus ripe you want your coconut for varying levels of sweetness. Depending on how strict of a vegan you are, hot sauce and chili options allow you to spice up the tasty snack.

Puerto vallarta coconut cart

Markets

Puerto vallarta vegan farmers market
Puerto vallarta vegan food cart shining sprouts

Neighborhood Stores and Mom & Pop Corner Markets

For food to take with you on the go, these small markets are full of tasty surprises. You can find various packaged snacks made by local vendors. They will almost always have ingredients listed in Spanish, so you will need a translating app or be very proficient in Spanish. I picked up a couple of bags of dried bananas for a hike.

When asking around for these small stores, here is some lingo to help you navigate to the correct type:

  • La Tiendita or Tienda de Abarrotes – General corner store
  • Frutas y Legumbres or Verdurería – Fresh fruit and vegetables store
  • Tortillería – Fresh tortillas store
  • Panadería – Bakery for fresh bread
Puerto vallarta la tiendita dried bananas

Tours and Adventures

Most reputable tour companies that you plan on joining will likely have a vegan or other dietary plate. That said, I’ve found they do require advanced notice – more than a day – to make sure they are properly stocked and prepared. This is a typical vegan plate from Vallarta Adventures:

Puerto vallarta vegan plate vallarta adventures

The Journey is Never Over

Having found a seemingly infinite number of healthy food choices, whether vegan or not, in Puerto Vallarta, I found myself quite spoiled. It was so easy to navigate food options during the entire trip. The food is vibrant, delicious, and has introduced me to many new flavors. Of course, being able to enjoy amazing food on the beach may have made me a bit biased.

Puerto vallarta vegan mexican food

To read more about my adventures in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, check out these other posts:

Behind the Mustache at Eva’s Brickhouse

Behind the mustache at eva's brickhouse

Finding the Best Coffee in Puerto Vallarta

Finding the best coffee in puerto vallarta
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14 thoughts on “Puerto Vallarta – From Healthy Eating to Vegan”

  1. This such an awesome guide! I’m saving this because every time I travel I’m always looking for recommendations for healthy eating spots that are also delicious, and they can be so hard to find. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. This is such an amazing and helpful guide for navigating the food scene! Food trucks seem to do a really good job of providing unique vegan/vegetarian dishes.

    Reply
  3. I find that really impressive that you were able to find so many vegan options! I went plant based around the new year & finding food while traveling is definitely something I’m worried about. I have a gluten allergy as well, so that’s another thing to add to the list, lol! But I’m totally ready for the challenge! Thanks for sharing your experience!
    -madi | http://www.everydaywithmadirae.com

    Reply
  4. Nice article. I eat oil free plant based whole foods. I live in Nuevo Vallarta and a few of my favorites are Burrito Mio in Paradise Plaza that makes a great vegetarian ceviche and an even better vegetable burrito. You have to ask for no sauce and no cheese. Panchos Takos in Valle Dorado does not have a vegan option on the menu but makes a great vegetarian taco plate if you ask. They also have a roasted avocado with mushrooms. There is a new OrganiK opening near 3.14. Adelitas in Fluvial makes a great vegetarian taco (sin queso) but is cooked on the grill with the meat. I love Playa Detox, but you have to ask about oil. Niksan has a few vegetable rolls and the miso soup is only miso, onion and seaweed. It’s delicious. Really great article Mike.

    Reply
  5. as a vegan traveling to puerto vallarta soon i LOVE the keys phrases you shared and so great to know the number of options that will be available. thanks!

    Reply
  6. Great post! Everything sounds so delicious. I may need to add Mexico to my “list”! I don’t know if I told you, I am currently working on a vegan Mexican menu. Wanna taste test?

    Reply
  7. As a Californian who spends three months a year in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, I can personally vouch for the accuracy of this valuable information for vegan options. The Mexican diet is full of fresh vegetables and healthy meal options. Puerto Vallarta is known as Mexico’s #1 beach destination for gastronomy and one-of-a-kind culinary experiences!

    Reply

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