Exploring Medellín’s plant-based paradise: A jam-packed 72 hours

When we first stepped foot in Medellín, Colombia, for our 72-hour adventure, we did have reservations about our ability to enjoy the city's food as a vegan traveller, Colombia isn't known for its cuisine, unlike many other countries in its region, nor is it known for a vibrant vegan scene. 

Were we going to struggle to find plant-based options? Were we going to miss out on eating out, only to sit with a bowl of chips or a salad? Luckily, our worries were completely unnecessary. 

Medellín surprised us in every possible way by not only offering incredible plant-centric cuisines, a host of incredible adventures, and a rich tapestry of culture but also demonstrating that Colombia's vegan community is rapidly growing. 

Our journey begins: Day one

We started by visiting Communa 13, once one of the most dangerous districts in Colombia, known to some as the murder capital; however, it’s now a vibrant hub for art and culture. 

The streets are covered in murals showing stories of transformation and resilience; being so beautifully illustrated, the murals provide a friendly and lively atmosphere. We joined a local walking tour to learn about the neighbourhood’s troubled history. We learnt that no matter how dire the situation, there’s always hope that it can be improved and revived.

Street art mural in Communa 13 in Medellín, Colombia

Callum Weir

Before heading to grab a bite to eat, we found ourselves on a concrete football pitch surrounded by a group of exceptionally talented six- to nine-year-olds, whose skills left us in awe. This was more than just a game for them, this was a way of life. 

This little community they have created revolves around their love for football. Playing against these children was a very humbling experience as they seemed undefeatable, effortlessly weaving the ball with joy. We did admit defeat before heading to Lenteja Express in the district of Poblado. 

The vegan ceviche was fresh and zesty. The mushroom-based dish was delightful and a must-try for anyone looking for a delicious cruelty-free twist on ceviche (formally a traditional seafood dish).

Our explorations continue: Day two

On our second day in Medellín, we found ourselves immersed in the El Poblado district, an area pulsating with both energy and culture. 

Our day began with a visit to Parque Lleras, an iconic square that encapsulates the essence of this lively neighbourhood offering quaint and colourful cafés. We treated ourselves to oat milk lattes to start our day of exploring the captivating art installations, until our curiosity led us to a bustling local market, a gold mine full of fresh produce that exceeded any of our expectations, boasting an incredible variety of fruits and vegetables some of which were entirely new to us. 

The Colombians were more than eager to introduce us to this colourful array of food, allowing us to sample exotic fruits before buying, such as starfruit which stood out with its remarkable blend of sweetness and tanginess, much like sour candy.

After, our appetites led us to a little eatery Vegan & Veggie, a name that was short and sweet but did what it said on the tin, offering an array of plant-based delights, including a beautifully crafted buddha bowl brimming with the freshest vegetables, alongside tacos, which were nothing short of a taste explosion that put anything we could have created to shame.

Around the corner was Gringo Tuesdays, a concept that brings travellers and locals together for a unique night in the form of a language and culture exchange. Every Tuesday, people from all walks of life sit down together and let down their cultural barriers, allowing each other to learn from one another, build on their language skills, and immerse themselves in the vibrant Colombian scene. A great place to create memories and friendships while ending the night with music and dance with the warm hospitality that Colombia provides.

Gringo Tuesdays sign, an event to bring people together in Medellín, Colombia

Callum Weir

Our travels come to a close: Day three

Our third day unfolded as we took a stroll through nature with a visit to the botanical gardens. The diverse plant life and soothing ambience was perfect for some mid-morning yoga, stretching our bodies while taking a break from the bustling city, and swapping the commotion of the busy streets with the symphony of birds singing and the soothing sounds of the flowing water. 

From there we took a cable car to Arvi Park, which overlooked the breathtaking views of the Andes, leaving us in awe. We explored the park’s hiking trails and landscapes that connected us to Colombia’s natural beauty.

In the evening, we decided to nourish our bodies at Veg Station, a restaurant that offered an authentic taste of Colombia with an abundance of traditional dishes turned plant-based. The feast of arepas, plantain chips, and hearty bean stews took our taste buds on a rollercoaster ride of taste fusions between sweet and savoury, amongst a satisfying mixture of textures.

Feeling content we worked the meal off by rollerblading on the city's empty highways. With the roads being closed off to traffic, we glided through, taking in the panoramic views of the city skyline lit up with a variety of different shades and colours with visions of the surrounding mountains that cradled Medellín. It felt like a sensation of freedom and the evening breeze stroked our faces creating an unforgettable memory.

Medellín’s not the only city that’s a plant-based paradise, far from it; take a trip to Copenhagen, Lisbon, or Barcelona.

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