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A week eating in Quintana Roo Mexico as a vegan

by Christy Morgan

Quintana Roo is a popular part of Mexico situated in the Southeast corner of the country. It’s home to Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Akumal, Bacalar, and many beautiful and ancient Mayan ruins. I spent 5 days in December at an all-inclusive resort in Cozumel, then did my own thing road-tripping around QR in March. I discovered, as I always do, that it isn’t hard to be vegan. Some places are more challenging than others, but I never starve!

Cancun and Cozumel are touristy and full of large all-inclusive retreats. I couldn’t do a post about this area of Mexico with touching a little on my experience at Sunscape Sabor. This all-inclusive resort is pretty affordable if you go at non-peak times and has great free activities like SUP boards, kayaking, snorkel gear, fitness classes, yoga, and wind-sailing. However, our food options were pretty dismal. We made it work like vegans do! Even though I contacted them weeks before and they assured me vegan options were available, none of them were standard except for some items on the salad bar. Even the oatmeal was made with milk. It turns out they have a few “vegetarian” options on each menu in their restaurants, but not really vegan.

We had to specifically ask for vegan beans to be made for us (they always put meat in the beans grrrr) and veggies without butter. The head chef happily made us what we asked for but it was nothing gourmet. I stuck with mostly fruit and oatmeal for breakfast (which they made for us with water), huge salads for lunch, and veggie tacos, rice, and beans for dinner. We ate one meal outside the resort and it was just meh. There aren’t many vegan choices in Cozumel unfortunately.

One of my favorite meals was a veggie pizza with no cheese. PRO TIP: take a shaker of nutritional yeast when you travel for pizza and to sprinkle on anything that needs a flavor punch. We survived the five nights there and the staff was very accommodating to make sure we were fed. They thankfully had soy milk for lattes! Honestly, I won’t be staying at an all-inclusive again unless I know for a fact that vegan options are on their menus and the staff knows what vegan means. 

Now onto Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Bacalar!

In March I visited Playa del Carmen on my way back from Guatemala and discovered it’s a very vegan-friendly place! Also you can score an Airbnb for very cheap. My favorite places to eat in Playa are La Senda, Clorofila, and Pitted Date Bakery. I had the most delicious layer of veggies, corn tortillas, and mole sauce at La Senda. Clorofila has great juices, breakfast items, and both have the most variety of healthy vegan options at affordable prices. 

La Senda
Ave 10 N Entre Calles 10 y 10 bis
Mon-Sun 9:00am-10:30pm

Clorofila Green & Vegan
Calle 20 esq. Av. 30 norte 222
Mon-Sun 9:00am-10:00pm

For breakfast and desserts definitely head to Pitted Date Bakery. The omelet pictured above is stuffed with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes topped with a delicious sauce and nut parmesan. They carry both raw and baked vegan desserts, and other breakfast and lunch options. It’s not to be missed! 

Pitted Date Bakery
Calle 26 Norte
Mon-Sun 8:00am-10:00pm

I jumped in a rental car and headed down to Tulum, where I stopped for lunch then took the long drive to Bacalar. This freshwater lake looks like the ocean and is nicknamed Lagoon of Seven Colors for it’s beautiful layers of color. I think it’s often overshadowed by the beach towns in QR, but honestly I prefer fresh water to the salty ocean. It’s a small, sleepy town in comparison but if you are looking for some peace and quiet definitely consider a short stay here. I recommend Casa Lamat for their perfect bungalows along the lake and the above platform with hammocks so you can chill, swim, and sunbath as the waves lull you to sleep.

I was happy to discover a vegan restaurant in Bacalar! Mango y Chile has plant-based burgers made with whole food ingredients and baked goods too. Definitely stop there if you are in the area!

Mango y Chile
Av.3 Fuerte San Felipe
Mon-Sun 1:00 – 9:00pm (closed Tuesdays)

I headed back up and stopped in Tulum at Charly’s Vegan Tacos for dinner. They have more than tacos! It was dark so I couldn’t get a good photo of my meal but I tried the Huaraches (a Mexican version of a pizza but with corn masa as base topped with yums). I did snap this sign directing people back to the vegan truck. Too funny! There is plenty of seating outside the truck and the staff is super nice. You can look on HappyCow for photos of their delicious food. It’s really creative stuff; they do amazing things with seitan and jackfruit, have unique salsas and sauces, and fancy mocktails.

Charly’s Vegan Tacos
Carr. Tulum-Boca Paila km. 4.5
Tue-Sun 1:00-10:00pm

Have you been to this area of Mexico? Any advice for our readers or favorite places you ate delicious vegan food? Share with us in the comments!

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