If you’re looking for an organic, healthy, and fresh meal, you’ve come to the right place.
It’s not your typical restaurant. I didn’t even have an exact address to the restaurant. I knew it was down the road from the famous bar with the cliff jumpers, Rick’s Cafe. So, we started walking.
I’m not sure if Shannon and her mom thought I was crazy, but I was determined to find Ras Rody’s. I’d read rave reviews online about how it was the best place in Negril to find a vegan meal. I’d read that it was the best place to find fresh and healthy meals in all of Jamaica. I even read one review that it is among the best vegan food on the entire planet. You can see why I was hell bent on finding this food stand. I’m pretty serious about having a good vegan meal when I travel.
Before long, we approached the brightly painting roadside stand with “World Famous Ras Rody Organics” sprawled on the outside of it. The wooden shack stood proudly with a straw thatched roof overhead. We shimmied our way onto the sole green bench at the front of the store. A smiling, pleasant woman greeted us. Right away, I could feel her calming presence. This was the daughter of Ras Rody himself.
Rastafarian Ital Food
Ras Rody’s has sold all vegan, all plant-based meals in Jamaica for twenty years now. It is Ital food, which is cooked and prepared in accordance with the principles of Rastafari. The main basis of Ital cuisine is that food should be fresh, natural, and from the earth. The primary goal of eating this way is to increase Livity (the life energy in all living beings). I also share these beliefs; one reason why I consume a strict vegetarian diet is to eat healthier and hopefully extend my life by doing so.
The ingredients in Ras Rody’s meals are extremely fresh. The food is harvested fresh daily from the family’s gardens. The menu stays mostly the same, though it is cooked according to which ingredients are fresh and available at the time.
The only other customer was a Rastafari man with long, dark dreadlocks. I learned he was originally from the USA and currently lived in Jamaica. I’m not sure if he was dining there or perhaps simply hanging out. We chatted for a while: myself, the man next to me, and our chef, Ras Rody’s daughter. It was refreshing to chat about vegan food, Ital food, and well, eating vegetables, to two people who followed this lifestyle. I told them that I was raised vegetarian, and had been eating a vegan diet for quite some time now. “My father would love you,” she beamed.
There was one meal on the menu, though it was a combo dish, meaning that I got to try several different meals. Everything was prepared fresh that day. The pots stayed warm on the oven behind the bar where I dined. Four different dishes were scooped beside one another into a container, on top of a serving of brown rice. I ate soy “meat” curried chunks, curried vegetables, callalloo (a local green vegetable, similar to spinach), and a red bean dish. I also received a cup of vegetable pumpkin soup, with yams, carrots, and other root vegetables.
Prepared with Love
It was like no other meal that I’d ever tried before. It’s hard to describe. I was able to feel the love and energy that was put into preparing it, like nothing I’ve ever eaten. Every forkful burst with flavor, and every dish complimented the other perfectly. The food tasted like a comforting, warm hug. I savored every last bite.
To top it all off, the entire meal was only $8 US. The restaurant might be a small hut at the side of the road, but don’t be fooled by its looks. There is some seriously tasty food being created here. Do whatever you can to find it when you’re in Negril. My only regret is only eating here once.
To quote Ras Rody:
We as a people must discover the original way by which mankind lived in harmony with the Earth. As a true Rasta, I pray for the youths of all nations to achieve peace with themselves and the people around them; looking at life a different way and adapting a new approach to the way we treat animals, plants, and people.
This Earth is all we have and it will take love and understanding to preserve its sacred bounty.
He demonstrates this philosophy every time he prepares a meal.
To reach Ras Rody’s, it’s a three minute walk from Rick’s Cafe headed north on West End Road. It’s across the street from the Tensing Pen Resort.
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Have you tried Ital food before?