I came to Mexico primarily because of Danny Kroll’s New Life Retreat. With some participants I then added a good week. In the article Vegan on Yucatan I tell you about my experiences with vegan food in Mexico. I’ll also give you tips for grocery shopping, because the food market here is structured very differently than in Central Europe.
So much in advance, the Yucatan is very touristy and therefore the restaurateurs also adapt to the needs of the guests. While it’s relatively difficult to find vegan products in supermarkets apart from unprocessed foods, it’s much easier to find in restaurants and cafes. I will tell more about supermarkets at the end. That Mexicans consume a lot of sugar can be seen everywhere. There are a lot of overweight people. Mexico is the country with the highest per capita consumption of cola (around 170 liters per year). And many Mexicans eat mainly tacos, tortillas and tortas – that is, sandwiches.
This is the first place on our culinary journey Vegan on Yucatan. This is where we had the New Life Retreat. A mega transformative event that I can recommend to anyone who wants to take their life to the next level.
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Of course, you can also rent the Paledora Eco-Resort for other purposes. As far as I know, a wedding took place there right after our stay. The resort consists of several residential buildings with different room categories. Most houses have a common room with sofas, coffee table, hammock, dining table and a full kitchen with fridge freezer and a large gas stove.
We didn’t have to worry about food during our stay. The ladies in the kitchen took care of it lovingly and were super sweet. They mainly cooked vegan/vegetarian food for us, but are basically open to everything. The food was very delicious.
What did we get to eat at Paledora Eco-Resort?
There was always plenty of fresh fruit for breakfast. In addition, often chia pudding – everyone thought it was very delicious – or quinoa with cocoa. The pancakes were also very tasty and incredibly popular. It’s not easy to say what I liked best. At the top you can see a photo of a breakfast buffet and the video below also shows a breakfast buffet – even a butterfly came to visit there.
A highlight was usually the fresh juice from different fruits. A soothing refreshment in the hot climate of Mexico.
The lunchtime snack was of course much more extensive than it sounds. For example, in the photo below you can see empanadas (stuffed dumplings), guacamole, boiled carrots, green salad with mango and not forgetting the obligatory tortilla chips.
After the retreat I traveled to Tulum with some others. That was the next big city. I have to say I didn’t really understand how this city works until now. You have to imagine that there is a main street that goes through the middle of town. It is the main commercial and north-south link, heading north to Playa del Carmen and Cancun, where the airport is located.
North of the main street, the city is relatively densely populated. There are grown residential areas, shops and so on. I got the feeling that mostly the locals live here.
South of the main road, the area loosens up relatively quickly. Almost all hotels are located here. The streets are only partially paved. Many are more like a dirt road and have deep potholes. Nevertheless, there are often very chic hotels there – practically in the middle of nowhere. Apparently everything is still in the making.
The beach is not in walking distance from the center. It is off the beaten track in the southeast, a good 6 kilometers from the center. Restaurants, clubs and holiday resorts are lined up there. The beach is beautiful and has the white sand typical of the Caribbean. Only the rampant seaweed bothers a bit. Supposedly, this comes from excessive use of fertilizers in Africa, which are transported here by sea currents and lead to strong growth. Tulum Beach is like the Ibiza of the Yucatan. Some of the beach clubs are very expensive, with minimum consumption etc., but of course you can really have a good time and party. When we were there, Oliver Koletzki, a Berlin DJ, happened to be DJing at the Mia Beach Club.
Vegan on Yucatan – Eating out in Tulum
Tourism is booming in Tulum and there are restaurants for every taste. You can even find purely vegan restaurants. Most of them are in the touristy part south of the main street.
La Hoja Verde
Practically in the center of Tulum is the vegan-vegetarian restaurant La Hoja Verde (in English: The Green Leaf). It’s down a side street just around the corner from the main street. The restaurant is open to the street. Most of the tables are on a terrace that is protected from wind and weather by a thatched roof.
The food at La Hoja Verde
Breakfast is from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. With the exception of the Mexican classic Huevos Rancheros and omelette, everything is vegan. But there is also a vegan version of omelets, as well as quesadillas.
The lunch and dinner menu offers a wide range of mostly vegan dishes, from Mexican classics to burgers and Budda Bowls. For example, you can get guacamole, hummus and corn soup as a starter. The main dishes are really varied – usually not a good sign for me – but manageable. I chose the bowl mexicano from the Buddha Bowls section. There are also tacos, pita and burgers to eat with your hands, specials like the Hoja Verde plate, stir-fried vegetables and risotto made from quinoa and brown rice, pizzas and pastas. Postres – meaning desserts – are of course also available. I chose the Brownie aka Bounty bar. I can highly recommend.
La Hoja Verde’s selection of drinks
A whole page of the menu is dedicated to healthy drinks. The jugos de vida (life juices) are fruit and vegetable juice mixtures, often with celery or ginger. Aguas Medicinales (healing waters) range from simple water to lemon-mint-ginger water (my choice) to kombucha. And last but not least, there are a number of smoothies and super smoothies.
But don’t worry, you can get your favorite unhealthy drinks too. Coffee and alcoholic drinks – especially mezcal, which is organic – as well as beer, vermouth and cocktails.
La Hoja Verde is a very nice restaurant with friendly service. The bowl mexicano didn’t knock my socks off, but it was good. My highlight was the brownie.
I would definitely go there again and enjoy eating myself through the menu. In terms of price, La Hoja Verde is still among the cheaper restaurants. Starters cost around 5 euros, main courses are around 8 euros (as of April 2022).
Info – La Hoja Verde
Address: Beta Sur S/N, Tulum Centro, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
We went to Humo on our last night in Tulum. It’s right off the main road though well screened. As with many restaurants in Mexico, everything here takes place outdoors. Basically, the restaurant is like a large courtyard. There is a covered and an uncovered area. The former is on a slightly raised wooden deck and gravel everywhere in the outdoor area. Trees provide shade during the day and form a natural barrier to the road and also to the toilet (see photo).
The Humo is not a purely vegan restaurant. The non-vegan dishes predominate. According to their own statement, the cuisine is “Mexican grilled fusion & mixology” or contemporary Mexican cuisine. Everything is beautifully arranged and served in crockery that matches the rustic decor. In addition to a number of vegetarian and a few vegan dishes, there are mainly fish dishes but also some with octopus, chicken and pork.
What did we eat at Humo?
Funnily enough, most of us opted for guacamole as an appetizer. It is of course served with tortilla chips. Grilled cauliflower dominated the main course. And here are the photos.
The Humo is a very cool restaurant. Due to the spaciousness you have a lot of space and are totally undisturbed. The dishes are all well prepared and beautifully presented. An additional vegan main course or two would be nice.
After dark there was a fire show. That was the icing on the cake of the wonderful evening at Humo. A clear recommendation.
Our next location was Playa del Carmen. For me and most of the others, this was also the last stage before we started our journey back to Europe.
Playa del Carmen differs from Tulum in many ways. PDC, as they also say for short, is located directly at the sea. It is a grown city and has a large center. The main street in the center, 5th Avenue, is mostly pedestrianized. Of course, the latter makes strolling much more pleasant. The shops, restaurants, bars and cafés are correspondingly densely packed in the pedestrian area.
I pick out two restaurants again that I particularly liked.
Although this is actually more of a diner than a restaurant, Falafel Nessya is a must at the article Vegan on Yucatan. This little place with about six tables was a recommendation. Friends had discovered it and found it to be good. When the whole horde invaded the place, all but two of the tables were occupied.
What is there to eat at Falafel Nessya?
As the name suggests, there is primarily falafel. In addition, you will only find Israeli salad and hummus. In the photo you can see the complete menu. Hopefully the decision wouldn’t be too difficult for you. A good place for falafel lovers, if you hate them go elsewhere.
In our group, too, the decision was easy for most of us. The majority opted for the full plate. As you can see in the picture, this one consists of 7 falafel, fries, salad and hummus. By the way, there are free refills of the bread basket with flatbread if you don’t get along with the initial load.
Falafel Nessya is a small but fine restaurant in Playa del Carmen. Good oriental-Israeli dishes at an equally good price.
Info – Falafel Nessya
Address: Calle 6 Norte entre avenida 10 y 15, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
Our accommodation in Playa del Carmen was conveniently located at 48 Calle on the corner of 5th Avenue. The Pitted Date was less than 5 minutes walk away. We ate our last breakfast there. Yes, finally breakfast.
But before that, briefly to the style of the restaurant. The interior is furnished in an industrial style with lots of metal and dark wood. The counter is cast in concrete and faced with wooden boards on the front. There is a spacious, covered outdoor area in front of the restaurant. On both sides of the terrace are long, padded benches. The tables and chairs are made of wood.
What is there to eat at The Pitted Date?
The Pitted Date is a vegan restaurant. But that doesn’t prevent anyone from offering all the breakfast classics of Mexican and international cuisine. And breakfast also seems to be the most important thing at The Pitted Date, because firstly it takes up half the menu and secondly breakfast is served all day. By the way, most of the dishes are also gluten-free.
Since we were a total of 10 people who met for breakfast, you will also see a lot of things the menu has to offer on the photos. There is the “omelettes” category, all topped with fresh spinach, cashew cream and vegan parmesan and served with home-style potatoes. The “sandwiches” range from burrito to bagel and panini to croissants. “Viva la vida loca” includes an acai bowl, oatmeal, chia pudding and banana sushi. The “must try chef’s specials” are huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, savory crepes and croque monsieur. The “Carbolicious Obsession” category includes sweet foods like waffles and sweet crepes. If you are only a little bit hungry, there are bagels with different fillings.
The lunch and dinner menus are almost pushed into the background. However, if you can’t stand it in your head to eat breakfast in the evening, you’ll get a lot on offer. Some salads like the Ceasar or Buddha. The latter is also available as a bowl in an Indian, a Thai and a Vietnamese version. There are three different soups and in small and large. Also recommended by the chef is the Beyond Meat Burger and the house specials (tacos, falafel in pita, and Jack of all trades burgers). Last but not least, there are classic grilled paninis.
And this is what we chose:
The Pitted Date was great. We really feasted and without a guilty conscience, because everything there is vegan. The price of the restaurant is also in the normal range. Most breakfast dishes are between 5 and 10 euros. I think we can all recommend The Pitted Date.
While writing the article I found out that there is probably a branch in Tulum as well. So feel free to check that out.
Info – The Pitted Date
Address: Avenida CTM Mz 174 Lote 1,2 y 3 Local 6, Zazil-ha, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
In Tulum we lived on the outskirts. Since we were a total of 13 people, we had accommodation that consisted of 4 houses, each with 2 bedrooms and a shared pool. Of course we made breakfast there and, in order not to always have to go to the restaurant, we also cooked dinner once.
The only supermarket nearby was an organic market, which was basically fine with us. More on that later. As you can see from the photos, we were fortunate to have someone with us who is trained as a chef. The presentation of the breakfast fruits was very appealing. Right?
Grocery shopping in Mexico
The influence of the USA can be felt strongly. On the one hand, this affects the grocery stores that are known from the USA, such as 7-Eleven, and on the other hand, the range and presentation of the goods in the supermarkets.
Small grocery stores or general stores
The most common grocery stores in both Tulum and Playa del Carmen are Oxxo, Circle K and 7-Eleven, but there are countless other often owner-managed shops. These are usually very small, but offer everything you need from groceries and cosmetics to batteries and other useful things, such as a SIM card. Very often these markets also have an area where you can make coffee and cold and warm snacks (but these are usually not vegan).
The larger supermarkets are Super Willys, Super Aki and Walmart. In addition to fresh fruit and vegetables, you can also get fish, meat and baked goods there. Of course, you will also find a lot of processed foods in these stores. We also got plant milk almost everywhere (e.g. in the Super Aki). Vegetable spreads such as hummus or guacamole, on the other hand, are in short supply. I think that’s what the Mexicans do themselves at home. After all, the Super Willys had bean paste without additives (see photo). I also took a small pack with me on the return flight – just in case.
A special tip
What you can find everywhere and I can highly recommend are fruit shops (Fruterias) (see video). There you usually have a large selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. Fresh juices are often on offer there as well.
As mentioned before, in Tulum we had an organic supermarket nearby called Gypsea Market. It was well sorted. The prices were sometimes beyond good and bad. If I remember correctly, they wanted around 10 euros for a pack of tofu, which in Germany you get for around 2-3 euros. Local fruit and vegetables were cheap there. Organic markets are not widespread, but can be found in every major city. However, the prices were very high in all organic shops that we visited.
How are your experiences?
Share your experiences of eating out and shopping vegan in Mexico with us! Feel free to write it in the comments!
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