For a city that prides its self on steak and other animal delicacies, Buenos Aires is surprisingly veg-friendly. Vegans will have no trouble finding lots of new and familiar foods to eat when shopping at local stores, supermarkets, health food stores and in Chinatown.
There are quite a few vegetarian restaurants in Buenos Aires but don’t expect to walk past one unexpectedly. The first step to surviving as a vegan in Buenos Aires is to find a kitchen.
We’ve rented an apartment with some friends in the Palermo Hollywood area. Having a kitchen is really helping us keep the cost of our meals down. We’ve done a few grocery runs and have been delighted with the selection.
With grocery shopping comes the obligation to read ingredients. This is always a challenge when you’re not versed in the language. In Buenos Aires, where the local language is Spanish, we know to pass on anything with leche, huevos, queso and mantequilla (milk, eggs, cheese and butter). Thankfully, the friends we’re traveling with also speak a bit of Spanish and have been helping us decode ingredient lists.
Our grocery shopping adventures have brought us to many different stores. We’ve shopped at small family-run stores and dieteticas (health food stores), as well as large supermarkets and Asian grocery stores in Barrio de Chino (Chinatonw). Here’s what we’ve found…
At convenience stores you can find a decent selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain bread, beans, rice, pasta and milanesas de soja (soybean cutlets). The items pictured above cost 50 Argentinian pesos ($14 USD).
We’ve come across a few dieteticas but only stumbled upon one during open hours. They all seem to be quite small and prices are a bit higher than what you’ll find at supermarkets or in Barrio de Chino. At Dietetica Dulces Sugerencias we found a giant carob and nut brownie for 5.20 pesos ($1.40 USD). We also saw powdered soy milk (8 pesos), along with all of the typical dry bulk food, spices, teas, granola, bread and baked goods. Some of the baked goods are free of dairy, eggs and butter but most contain miel (honey).
HappyCow only lists a few health food stores. For a more comprehensive list, visit this link.
Avenida Bullrich 345 – Capital Federal
4778-8011 / 22
Monday – Sunday 08:00 – 22:00 hs.
Jumbo is what it sounds like, a massive supermarket. It’s akin to Walmart with a large grocery section and also sells household items, books, clothing and more. I was happy to find they have a large produce section and small specialty sections for organic, gluten free, kosher and imported foods.
On one trip to Jumbo we bought the items pictured above. We spent 95 pesos ($25 USD). The most expensive item was the organic quinoa, ringing in at 27 pesos. My favourite purchase was the TeaZone chai tea flavoured jam.
Arribenos 2193, Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina
In Buenos Aires, there are some things you just can’t find at convenience stores or supermarkets. If you’re looking for things like soy milk, rice milk, hummus, peanut butter, seitan, tofu or vegan cookies and don’t want to pay the high prices you’ll find at dieteticas, take a trip to Barrio de Chino. The second grocery store we checked out was Casa China. Our adventure for the day ended there after we found everything we needed. Casa China has an impressive selection of teas, sauces, nuts, seeds, tofu, seitan, soy products, veggie burgers, healthy cookies and biscuits, granola bars, dry beans and grains.
Shopping trip 1: For 70 Argentinian pesos ($19 USD), we picked up lentils, an avocado, tomatoes, seitan, seitan empanadas, bread, amaranth and lemon cookies, coconut cashew granola bar, peanut butter and brown rice.
Shopping Trip 2: For 90 Argentinian pesos ($25 USD), we bought curry powder, ground coriander, imported salsa (for a pricey 17 pesos), peanut and sweet rice milk, locally made chimichurri sauce, quinoa flour cookies, cashew coconut granola bar, hazelnut granola bar, chickpeas, tomatoes, tortillas, fresh ginger, chocolate covered lentils and granola.
Barrio de Chino is easily accessible by subway. Take the green line, letter D, to the Juramento station. Walk down Juramento towards the railroad tracks, the addresses will get lower in number. Barrio de Chino begins on the left after the railroad crossing, right before the 1600 block. If you prefer the bus, you can take the 15, 42 or 29.
Milanesas de Soja
One popular vegan item I’ve seen at convenience stores, supermarkets and in Barrio de Chino is milanesa de soja. When you translate the name to English, it’s something like soybean cutlet or breaded soya. There are lots of varieties, including spinach, green onion, ham, classic and salt free. They’re longer and thinner than regular veggie burgers and are breaded. They taste okay but aren’t my favourite thing. I think they are worth trying if you haven’t come across them before. The most common brand I’ve seen is made by Vegetalex. They also make soy hot dogs but they contain eggs.
To see some of the meals we’ve made with all these groceries, check out my post about homemade vegan meals in Buenos Aires.