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      /  Buenos Aires   /  Vegetables are taking Argentina’s carnivorous capital by storm


    Vegetables are taking Argentina’s carnivorous capital by storm

    By Buenos Aires Times

    Fear not, vegans. Whether you want plant-based pizza, elaborate fishless sushi, or a vegetarian-take on Argentine classics, Buenos Aires has something for even the pickiest herbivore.

    In the beef capital of the world, it might seem daunting for veggie-eaters to find restaurants that match their diet. But vegetarians, vegans and those trying to cut back on their meat consumption can rest assured that the Argentine capital has plenty of plant-based options for everyone. Whether you want vegan pizza, elaborate fishless sushi, or a vegetarian take on the famous choripán sandwich, Buenos Aires has something for even the pickiest herbivore.

    The Times spoke to chefs, food writers and vegan advocates in Buenos Aires to create a digestible history and curated sampling of the meat-free cuisine dotting the city.

    Ten years ago in the porteño capital, it would have been a lot more difficult to find one vegan dish, never mind an entire restaurant dedicated to plant-based foods. But animal-free cuisine has grown exponentially in the city, with over 200 vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurants across the map, according to the Happy Cow website.

    At the beginning of the millennium, veganism in BA existed mostly underground, explained Manuel Martí, founder and director of Unión Vegana Argentina (UVA). Newly digital vegan and vegetarian groups on Yahoo and the paper magazine, El Vegetariano Vegano, published by UVA provided one of the only spaces, albeit secluded, for the small community.

    But the city is changing. Pharmacies now carry vegan-approved cosmetics, personal hygiene and cleaning products, while clothing stores promote animal-friendly footwear and faux-leather jackets. On the restaurant scene, this plant-centred metamorphosis is undeniable.

    “Every year there are more and more vegan or vegetarian restaurants or restaurants that include vegan and vegetarian dishes on their menus,” Martí said. “More bars with vegan options, more health food shops or natural grocery stores and constantly new brands of vegan products or companies that manufacture vegan products are appearing.”

    The people are changing too. In 2019, the UVA hired polling company KANTAR to measure the population that doesn’t eat animals; the result showed that nine percent of Argentines nationwide were vegan or vegetarian, while in Buenos Aires City, that number reached 12 percent. Only one year on, the same firm found that the overall vegetarian population had risen to 12 percent and 15 percent in the capital.

    “Meeting a vegetarian in those days was an incredible event –– today everyone has one or more vegans and vegetarians in their families and friends,” Martí remarked. “It has been incredible how in such a short time so many people have become aware of what is done to animals and how this has an impact on the planet and on health, reasons that have led them to change their consumption habits. That is why we always say: ‘The future is vegan.’”

    Twist and sprout

    With four locations across the city, the Let it V chain has certainly become a popular and well-known haunt for Argentina’s veggie-oriented crowd. With plant-based takes on Asian-fusion cuisine like refried bean onigiri or grilled portobello nikkei, this restaurant’s gastronomic innovation is fit for those wanting to try plant-based cuisine as experimental as the Beatles themselves.

    Dario Leibovic, founder and commercial director of the chain, told the Times the restaurant was born from the idea of “making inclusive, creative and irresistible food” for everyone. Whether you never eat animal products or just want to try a new cuisine, Leibovic says their sushi, poke, salads and street food options are sure to debunk “bland” or “boring” myths surrounding vegan food.