How vegan friendly is Mexico?
As a native from Mexico, I thought I would try to help all of you travelers who are planning on coming to Mexico, but are afraid that you will find it hard to be vegan here.
Mexico may not be the safest country in the world or a first world country but we sure are a very important exporter of fruits and vegetables for the world. To get an idea of how good we are at this I thought I should share some hard facts about our agriculture.
- Mexico has perfected the production, logistics and export process of certain fruit and vegetables, such as mango, citrus fruits, berries, onions, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.
- According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, in 2012 Mexico was the largest exporter of avocados worldwide, with about 52.8 percent of the global total, and also accounted for 23.6 percent of global sales of tomatoes.
- Mexico leads in global onion exports with 14.7 percent of the global market, while its papayas accounted for 31.8 percent of said market.
- Mango and guavas each have about 20 percent of the global market share and Brussels sprouts, 26.6 percent of the total.
- Mexico is also successful in the citrus category as the country is the fourth largest exporter, especially of limes, although they also exported oranges and grapefruit.
- The sale of fruit and vegetables between January and August 2014 amounted to 6.654 million US dollars, i.e. 2.6 percent of all Mexican exports, which is not a small amount considering that the country is also a great seller of oil and manufacturing products, according to the Bank of Mexico.
- The most profitable tropical crops are coffee and sugarcane. Coffee is exported but sugarcane is mostly for domestic consumption. Other important tropical crops are fruits such as bananas, pineapples and mangos as well as cacao and rice. Vanilla is still also grown, which is native to Mexico.
Growing produce here is quite the easy task. We have the land, and also almost every ecosystem can be found in this rich country, but how easy is it to be vegan here?
Well, it all depends on what part of the country you are in. Usually, at the North of the country where the desert is abundant veganism isn't really popular. This part of the country is well known for being proud of eating beef, pork, dairy, cheese, and almost only animal products. So, you won't be very lucky to be vegan there. I'm sure though you will be able to manage if you buy your food at the supermarkets and cook it yourself, but I wouldn't recommend you to try being vegan at restaurants unless you know you are going to a vegan restaurant (if there are any).
As you get to the center and South of this beautiful country you will find that It is extremely easy to get cheap and amazing fruits, seeds, vegetables, legumes, and cereals at our many markets. There are also tons of organic vegetarian and vegan friendly cafes, and small restaurants scattered all over the place. You also might be surprised to find vegan restaurants in many of the larger cities, such as Mexico City, Puebla, Playa del Carmen, Merida, Cancun, Queretaro and Guadalajara.
Something to take into consideration is that many mexicans, particularly in smaller towns and away from tourist centers, will not really know what vegan means. You should ask what the food is made with so you can make your own decision as to whether or not it is vegan, since asking if it is vegan will not necessarily get you the truth.
Rice in Mexico is frequently made with chicken broth as well as soups, so don't assume that it is a vegan option always ( You should ask before ordering it) Most restaurants will be more than happy to give you an ingredient list or even to create a special dish just for you.
There is no actual statistic of how many vegans or vegetarians live in Mexico currently, but It is incredible how the number of vegan people I know inside Mexico, and in all different regions of this country are rising. A great example of this would be that the number of vegan festivals has doubled since last year, as well as the number of new vegan restaurants (at least on the bigger cities).
You may think that as a non Spanish speaker it would be really hard to be vegan here, but I have friends from all over the world who have come here and found it to be easy, and quite simple. ( In most touristic cities of Mexico the majority of people are able to communicate with tourists in English. )
If you are ever planning on coming to my country don't hesitate to contact me for further help. I hope you enjoyed this article and that it has helped you!