Cuban Vegan Food ~ Cuban D.I.Y. Vegan Love

When it comes to vegan-friendly, Cuba isn’t the first destination one should list as their vacation hot spot. One might say Cuban vegan food is something of a novelty in Cuba, if anything at all. Veganism simply hasn’t caught on in Cuba nearly as much as some vegan enthusiasts might have hoped for. Many vegan staples that are found in the U.S. can be found in Cuba, however, it’s not at all the same and some might not be accustomed to it, at first. Cuba’s vegan scene mirrors that of a throwback early 90’s with menu selections being reduced to a primitive vegan movement with simple farmer’s market foods like rice, beans, potatoes, and salads. Nothing at all wrong with these most essential of food items, but for the more refined vegan palette hungry for a more robust and exotic Cuban vegan food experience, one needs to be more of a D.I.Y. culinary mindset, preparing your own authentic Cuban vegan dishes.  


No Cuban Vegan Food? No Problem.

The lack of Cuban vegan food’s existence in Cuba comes as little to no consequence because if one is resourceful, virtually any Cuban dish or entrée can be converted into a Cuban vegan dish or entrée within minutes. Fresh fruits and veggies are available in Cuba year round and fried plantains are one of Cuba’s “go-to” staples, being beloved by people from all over the world. Plantains are a type of banana, containing thicker skin and larger size than their more famous cousins. Plantains, when cooked, are sweet and are said to taste differently throughout each stage of their development. As previously stated, beans and rice are another Cuban staple that remain cheap and are as vegan friendly as the letter “v” when kept as such. Sometimes chefs or cooks add little pieces of meat, such as pork, to their beans and rice recipes so it’s a good idea to always check and make sure before consuming.


Vegan Heaven in Havana

Casas Particulares is Cuba’s equivalent to AirBnB and tourists planning a trip to Cuba can find accommodations there or may stick to traditional booking arrangements. I mention Casas because they have “home chefs” who are sometimes tasked with preparing meals for their patrons, including special meal requests. Casas may be more suited to handle those requests made by vegan travelers more so than a restaurant chef. However, for our more d.i.y. engaged traveler let’s start out with Cuban Lentil Soup with Baked Plantains and Lemon Crema (Karen Sheer) is soup filled to the brim with vegetables. It’s spices include traditional Cuban spices and classic Cuban onion and garlic flavor for that zest! Papas Rellenas (Cruelty Free Family) are potato and eggplant balls called croquettes. This is a crispy potato appetizer than can have a sweet, spicy eggplant filling encased in creamy mashed potatoes with the crispier potato on the outside. The eggplant filling can be replaced with other fillings such as avocado or even vegan cheeses.

There’s a famous Cuban Café and Bakery of Southern California called Porto’s Bakery who carries the Potato and Spicy Potato balls which are said to be simply delicious! Another dazzling Cuban vegan dish for our d.i.y. daredevils is the Tempeh Cubano Sandwich (Molly Patrick) which contains the alternative to tofu, Tempeh. Tempeh is a cake-like patty made from slightly fermented and cooked soybeans. Marinate the Tempeh to possible perfection and you can build this into a sandwich for your picnics or lunch functions or for your next Cuban fiesta bash! So you see, anyone can quickly turn their Cuban vegan-unfriendly visit into a Cuban vegan food festival for the history books with a little d.i.y. ingenuity!