Jamaica is a fantastic place to be a vegan – the tropical climate means there is no shortage of interesting vegetables and fruits. The food is flavoursome too as many herbs and spices are grown locally, often wild and organic in the mountains. Jamaican food is heavily influenced by Asian, especially Indian, food which gives it a vegetarian bias. In fact, the Indian diet was the inspiration for the vegan ital diet of the Jamaican Rastafarians.
Away from the coastal areas, much of Jamaica is rural and given over to agriculture. The markets are always well stocked with seasonal vegetables and fruits, the king of which must be the coconut, while the mountains are dotted with smallholdings growing mostly root vegetables and herbs and spices. A walk in the mountains is a sensory experience as wild garlic, ginger, thyme and thyme waft through the air.
Vegans visiting the island of Jamaica are blessed by the presence of the Rastafarians. Their ital diet is, at its purest, vegan. Importantly, the ital diet is centred on a philosophy of restoring vital energy to the body. Consequently, food tends to be well-seasoned and flavoured with delicious herbs and roots. Most Rastafarian eateries also produce tonics – natural juices with fantastic restorative powers. In Kingston, Veggie Meals on Wheels serves the best curried ackee anywhere on the island and it’s perfect washed down with one their fresh pineapple and ginger juices. New Leaf at Lane’s Plaza, Liguanea is a great little lunchtime drop-in spot serving 99% vegan dishes. Mi hungry Now at Market Place serves delicious vegan food and juices. Try the Zucchini Rastalini with a guava juice.
Address and Telephone number:
New Leaf Vegetarian, 121 Old Hope Road, Jamaica +1 876 977 5243
Farm to Table
The abundance of locally-grown organic produce and beautiful rural settings has given rise to a small number of ‘farm-to-table’ venues. One of the best is Stush in the Bush, serving up home grown organic herbs, greens, vegetables and fruits with a healthy dose of Rastafarian chic. Eits in the Blue Mountains outside of Kingston serves outstanding farm-to table food. It isn’t a vegan restaurant but there are plenty of vegan items on the menu. All grown at their food basket farm. Over to the west there is a monthly farm-to-table experience at Dool’s farm in St Elizabeth, organised by Jake’s at Treasure Beach. Again, not all the dishes are vegan, but many of them are and the food is all grown on the local farms and served in an atmospheric environment at a long table beneath a huge tree.
Address and Telephone number:
Stush in the Bush, St. Ann, Jamaica +1 876 562 9760
Eits Cafe, 17 Mile Post, Newcastle Road, Irish Town, Jamaica +1 876 944 8151
Jake’s, Calabash Bay, Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, Jamaica +1 876 965 3000
Fresh juices are an excellent way to get an injection of vegan goodness. Fortunately, fresh juices are incredibly popular in Jamaica, largely thanks to the Rastafarian influence. Supermarkets and cafes have cottoned on to their popularity and many are opening their own juice bars. Popular juice staples such as carrot and ginger are available everywhere, but to be sure of the organic provenance of your juice, it’s best to find a Rasta establishment. Try this vegan blood-cleansing recipe: beetroot, ginger and carrot with the juice of a lemon – add coconut water and either steep overnight or mix in a juicer.
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