I spent a week at the Riu Palace Tropical Bay in Negril, Jamaica. So, what did I eat?
Sometimes traveling as a vegan can be a challenge. Even at resorts, finding a vegan meal isn’t necessarily a guarantee. Thankfully, I was able to find delicious vegan food at the Riu Palace Tropical Bay in Negril, Jamaica. I’ll show you everything that I ate while I was there, and I’ll also provide you with some vegan dining tips for your next resort vacation. This info might also be useful if you’re traveling with food allergies or you’re looking to eat healthy meals on your holidays. Here’s my vegan guide to Riu Palace Tropical Bay.
What did I eat?
I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I first arrived at the Riu Resort. After all, I’d never stayed at a resort before. Justin successfully dined as a vegan last year in the Dominican Republic at a resort, though I wasn’t sure how vegan-friendly the Riu would be. I sent an email ahead of time and inquired about vegan meals, and was assured that I wouldn’t go hungry. At a resort, there was the option of dining at themed specialty restaurants in the evening. During breakfast and lunch (and dinner, if you choose), food was served at the buffet. I ate a variety of meals throughout my stay. I found the best food at the fine dining restaurants where they took great care to arrange special meals that didn’t include any animal products. However, the buffet had a few options and I was able to eat large portions of fruit and vegetables.
For breakfast, I typically ate fresh fruit, toast and fruit jam, hashbrowns, and a green salad if I felt like it. At lunch time, there were green salads with lots of veggies, cold pasta salad, bean salads, roasted potatoes, steamed vegetables, cooked pasta, tortilla chips with salsa, and French fries regularly served. There was also a rotating variety of different ethnic dishes served, with some of them being vegan and vegetarian. For instance, one day I was able to eat freshly prepared vegetable sushi. One day, there were Jamaican dishes and I was able to eat some rice, beans, and fried plantains.
In front of each dish, there was a short description and in some cases, it was clearly marked as vegetarian or not. Sometimes it wasn’t obvious whether or not the meal was vegetarian or vegan. I was able to ask the staff for some assistance, and the buffet chef walked around with me to answer any questions that I had. He knew how to prepare every meal and knew what ingredients were used in each one. For example, I was able to ask if there was meat or cheese in a sauce, or if the pasta was cooked with butter or olive oil.
Here’s a small sampling of what I ate from the buffet:
Fine Dining Restaurant Meals
There were fixed menus in each restaurant (Italian restaurant, Fusion restaurant, Japanese restaurant, Steakhouse) and one vegetarian menu shared across all four restaurants. As we visited during the off-season, only two or three restaurants were opened each evening. Some of the vegetarian meals weren’t available every night because it depended on whether or not that meal was prepared in which restaurant’s kitchen. With that said, the Riu was always able to accommodate my needs and prepared vegan meals that were modified from omnivore meals, vegetarian meals, or brand new ones at times.
Be sure to reserve your spot at a restaurant two nights in advance. Sometimes you can reserve a table one night ahead of time, but these fill up fast. Also, mention that you require a special diet so they can prepare ahead of time if necessary.
After my first night, the wait staff remembered that I was vegan and always discussed my meal once I arrived at the restaurant.
On the first evening, we dined at the Japanese restaurant. Eager to please, several dishes were brought out and I wasn’t able to finish everything! The food was delicious. I was served veggie fresh rolls (without shrimp), vegetarian sushi, a big salad with cashews, hummus with crackers, and a tofu stir fry. After we finished eating, the chef came to our table to ask how we enjoyed our meal. He was from Tokyo and had worked in his own restaurants for years before moving to Jamaica to work at the resort.
The next night we went to Krystal, the fusion restaurant. We dined here on a couple of occasions and I ate similar meals both times. I really enjoyed the modern decor of the restaurant and the stylish glass serving platters. I ate hummus with freshly made plantain chips, a giant salad, a vegetable couscous dish, and an artfully arranged fruit dessert topped with granita. These were all available on the vegetarian menu, except the couscous was modified into an entree from a side dish option on the regular menu.
At Italiano, the Italian restaurant, I was able to choose a pasta with tomato sauce as my main meal. While that isn’t the most exciting dish in the world, there were a nice variety of starters at a buffet-style bar at the front of the restaurant. I chose some salad greens and artichokes stuffed with sundried tomatoes. There was also a vegan minestrone soup to eat, too.
Sadly, there weren’t any vegan desserts, but I ate plenty of fresh fruit for something sweet.
- Make sure you email or call the resort ahead of time and ask if vegan meals are possible. It’s always good to let them know in advance, just in case they need to buy some extra ingredients to make your meals.
- Tell them that you’re vegan when you make the restaurant reservations, and follow up when you reach the restaurant.
- At the buffet, if you’re unsure about any of the dishes, ask one of the kitchen staff members to speak with the chef to discuss what ingredients are used to prepare the meals.
- Sometimes it’s a matter of making it work. Usually there are always vegetables, potatoes, pasta, rice, and fruit available.
- If you’re looking for the best coffee at the resort, get it from the lobby bar! There is a espresso machine there and you’ll be able to drink some bold, rich coffee. The coffee from the buffet or other bars comes from a machine and it isn’t quite as nice.
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Have you dined as a vegetarian or vegan at a resort?