Making my holiday at the Riu Palace Tropical Bay into one of the vegan vacations of my dreams.
Traveling as a vegan can be a challenge. Even at resorts, finding a vegan meal isn’t necessarily a guarantee. If you’re looking for vegan all inclusive resorts, they’re few and far between. While the Riu Palace Tropical Bay in Negril, Jamaica isn’t one of the exclusively vegan all inclusive resorts, I was able to find so much delicious veggie food there.
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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 (especially if it’s a vegan Jamaica trip you’re seeking). This info might also be useful if you’re traveling with food allergies or you’re looking to eat healthier meals on your holidays. Here’s my vegan guide to Riu Palace Tropical Bay.
Vegan All Inclusive Resorts: Build Your Own Vegan Vacation
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. During breakfast and lunch (and dinner, if you choose), you can eat at the buffet. For dinner, you can choose to dine at themed specialty restaurants.
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. There was also a rotating variety of different ethnic dishes that were naturally 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.
Fine Dining Restaurant Meals
Each restaurant has fixed menus (Italian restaurant, Fusion restaurant, Japanese restaurant, Steakhouse) and one vegetarian menu shared across all four restaurants. Since we traveled in November (the off season), there were only two or three restaurants open each evening.
The availability of some vegetarian meals depended on whether that restaurant’s kitchen was open on that evening. However, I was always able to find something delicious to eat, whether it was from the vegetarian menu or a modified omnivore meal. Sometimes they even created brand new meals, too!
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. The food was delicious. I ate 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. The chef worked at his own restaurants in Tokyo for years before moving to Jamaica to work at the resort.
Krystal (Fusion Restaurant)
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. You’ll find everything on the vegetarian menu, except the couscous (a side dish on the regular menu made vegan).
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 sun-dried 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. It’s really difficult to find entirely vegan all inclusive resorts, but I’m confident you can make this diet work at any resort holiday!
- 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. If in doubt, bring your own coffee. Here’s my guide to brewing delicious coffee on the road, no matter where you are in the world.
- If it’s possible, go off the resort for food sometimes. It’s hard to find vegan resorts, and some of the best food can be found at a vegan restaurant. There is lots of vegan Jamaica food – Ital cuisine! I found the best vegan meal at Ras Rody’s Roadside Organic Vegan in Negril. Definitely check it out!
- Check out more reviews of the Riu Palace Tropical Bay by fellow travelers who have visited.
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