Happy National Vegetarian Day!

In light of National Vegetarian Day, at least in the USA, I’m going to talk a little bit about what it’s like to be vegetarian, and former vegan, in Ecuador.

I’ll start by saying that, if left to my own devices, I could probably pull off being a vegan in Ecuador. Fruit is abundant and cheap. Vegetables are a bit more expensive, but not even as much as back home. In Quito, soy meat even exists, although it’s not cheap. But it’s not cheap in the States either. However, I am not left up to my own devices. Even if I had the time to cook all my meals, which I don’t and is what I’d need to do, it might come off as rude to my host families. Plus, half of culture is food. If you don’t experience the food, you’re not getting it all. Even as a vegetarian, there are some cultural things I’m not getting. As much as I’m into the immersion, meat is one thing I can’t do, emotionally. In the market, (I apologize to the veggies for this image) they have whole pigs laid out in the stands. It’s so horrifying to me, seeing their faces, with the teeth and eyes still in it. It looks human to me. My older host brother in Pimampiro is always laughing at me for my meat skittishness.

On a happier note, I’m going to give you some examples of how cheap fruit is here.

I just about died when I went to the market the first time:

Avocado: 25 cents

8 kiwis: $1

Coconut: $2 (which now seems expensive to me)

A huge bunch of bananas: $1

5 granadilla: $1

The prices vary depending on the vendor, of course, but whoa.

And now all the vegans are like buying tickets to come visit, I’m sure. But beware: if you’re a foreign traveler, you know that you can’t always just eat the food. Peel fruits are fine, but you should always wash any fruit you just bite well before doing so. There are different germs and bugs here we’re not accustomed to so they can do some damage on your system. Another problem with being vegan here would be the vegetables. You have to soak them, especially lettuce and spinach, before eating them to get all the other substances out. It’s kind of a pain, but you do what you gotta do to not be sick here. I don’t eat enough vegetables anymore. But I sure do eat lots of fruit.

There’s an interesting fruit here; I forget the actual name because we just call it the poop fruit. One of our team leaders warned us that while it tastes like candy, which it so does, it really “clears our your system” and we should be wary of how much we eat. There are fruits here that do all sorts of things.

In the more rural places, being a vegetarian is way weirder. I know one of my friends is now commonly known not as the gringita but as the “vegetariana.” There are quite a few of us vegetarians in the group. 15 out of 47 maybe? But if you get a group of world-minded, compassionate, intelligent young adults together, chances are many of them will be vegetarians. Just saying.

Happy Vegetarian Day, my brothers and sisters!

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  1. what about the “v” fruit??


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