Destinations Embracing Plant-Based Food for Earth Day and Beyond

Celebrate Earth Day every day with a plant-centric diet that not only benefits your health but also our planet. Earth Day, observed on April 22nd worldwide, champions the protection of our environment. Studies indicate that embracing a diet centered around plants can significantly lessen environmental impact. The production of beef and the use of pesticides are substantial sources of greenhouse emissions. Consuming a plant-based diet can help preserve soil quality, save water, reduce energy use, improve air quality, and fight against global hunger. Even if you choose to eat vegan or vegetarian occasionally, your choices contribute positively to both personal wellness and planetary health. Here are some global destinations that offer plant-based and plant-slant menus, contributing to a sustainable future while providing delicious dining options.

Monteverde, Costa Rica
A carbon-neutral, ecolodge located in Costa Rica’s cloud forest, the 26-room, boutique Hotel Belmar is a family-owned and operated property with deep roots in the Monteverde community for close to 40 years. Crafting a positive hospitality model ingrained in eco-friendly practices and innovation, Hotel Belmar has pioneered programs that transform the travel experience to encourage environmental stewardship, regeneration of the ecosystem, economic benefit to local communities, and cultural activities that promote diversity. Hotel Belmar’s dining experience showcases the unmistakable flavors of ingredients harvested only instants ago. Their breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus pay homage to Costa Rica’s agrarian traditions, transforming the land’s gifts into balanced dishes that burst in color and healthy nutrients. The option for vegan or vegetarian is offered for most dishes on all three menus.
The secret behind Belmar’s delicious dishes and beverages can be traced to the adoption of the biointensive Agriculture (Agrarian) Method. This eco-farming approach maximizes crop variety and yields on small-scale plots through water conservation, natural pest controls, and organic soil enrichment. Onsite vegetable gardens, the nearby Finca Madre Tierra farm, Restaurante Celajes, the Juice Bar, and the Belmar Brewery create the regenerative cycles that distinguish Hotel Belmar’s commitment to long-term sustainability. Finca Madre Tierra is the first agricultural project of its kind in Costa Rica to earn a carbon-neutral farm certification. The hotel offers “farm to table” in its truest form with its organic gardens and farm providing fresh herbs, vegetables, shade-grown coffee, artisanal cheese, free-range eggs, and seasonal favorites. The cycle is closed by collecting all restaurant and brewery residuals to compost as fertilizer and supplement animal feed. Food scraps, coffee grinds, spent grain, and eggshells are returned to the land and livestock, their nutrients ready to launch another virtuous cycle of nourishment and flavor. “Table-to-farm” at its best. Their “garden to glass” mixology menu showcases the garden-fresh herbs, fruit, and grains that can be hand-picked and crafted as freshly squeezed juices, aromatic infusions, bitters, and garnishes for colorful cocktails and drinks. Their onsite juicing and local sourcing have enabled the hotel to operate a virtually plastic-free bar. www.hotelbelmar.net
Rishikesh, India
Destination wellness retreat located in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains in India, Ananda in the Himalayas offers Ayurveda cuisine lessons (plant-based with the use of dairy) for in-house guests twice a week. All guests are encouraged to be part of these lessons as these lessons build the base for lifestyle change in terms of food habits. Every individual has three basic qualities of saatva (balance, harmony, peace purity), rajas, and tamas in different proportions based on each person’s body type and lifestyle. Ayurveda cuisine which is primarily plant-based focuses on a lifestyle to achieve a state of saatva. Cooking classes focus on food with more prana (life). Plant-based foods that are not processed or less processed, consumed closer to harvest, and grown organically or biodynamically have higher prana value. Cooking classes also focus on the nutritional aspect of food such as using plant-based ingredients for creating a high protein menu, diabetic menus, vegan menus, menus for hypertension, active fitness, and more. Ananda also organizes private culinary lessons for guests who wish to learn more about Ananda’s cooking styles.
According to Chef Diwaker Balodi at Ananda in the Himalayas, more than 75% of Ananda’s food offerings across different menus are plant-based. Plant-based foods are easy to digest and thus favored in Ayurveda. The complexity of food increases when it goes higher up the food chain (Grains – chicken – human). Plant-based foods are not complex in their structure and therefore assimilate well in the body. Within plant-based foods, Ayurveda recommends food with more ‘prana ‘i.e. less processed and as close to being in its natural form as possible. A key objective of Ananda’s show kitchen is for guests to want to adopt and take away Ayurveda cooking as a lifestyle. The culinary team at Ananda works closely with farms and vendors in their local surroundings to get fresh plant-based foods. The hotel’s focus is to increase the range of fresh organic and bio-dynamically grown foods in its surroundings. Foraging is a key concept in the development of the culinary offerings at Ananda. Himalayan herbs grown organically in the onsite garden at Ananda are also a key part of the culinary offerings to guests. Diet and nutrition as per each person’s body type is the core of Ananda’s wellness offerings. www.anandaspa.com

Las Catalinas

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Just opened in the Fall of 2023, Nature’s Table is a conscious café located in Center of Joy, the wellness gathering hub in Las Catalinas. Anticipate an array of breakfast delights, wholesome salads, soups, and mouthwatering paninis featuring house-baked bread, alongside heartier lunch, or dinner options like cauliflower risotto and more prepared by Chef Darwin Gonzalez Moonge. True to its commitment to well-being, Nature’s Table caters to diverse dietary preferences, offering a remarkable selection for those inclined towards vegan or vegetarian fare or following sugar and gluten-free lifestyles. The café cultivates its own mushrooms to control quality and the chef has something for every palate. Nature’s Table celebrates the goodness of fresh, organic produce and seasonal dining prioritizing eating nutritious and balanced food as found in all their dishes. Since its opening, the menu has changed with the seasons, and some plant-based highlights include their Happy Burger – a beyond vegan meat with potato cheese, mushrooms, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, chipotle, and mustard dressing. Another favorite is the Pancito Pita with falafel, sauteed vegetables, hummus, lettuce, carrot, tomato, and roasted garlic dressing. Vegan desserts include apple and golden berry tart, a dark chocolate Snickers bar, and more. Nature’s Table is committed to catering to diverse preferences, and its desserts are thoughtfully prepared without the addition of sugars, gluten, or other additives. www.lascatalinascr.com
Originally opened as a food truck in the heart of Beach Town in Las CatalinasPots & Bowls was born as a small, local business with a vision of connecting people, plants, and food. Its balanced menu is thoughtfully adapted to many different dietary restrictions with a big focus on homemade dishes using fresh produce from Costa Rican vendors. The extensive, nutritional menu avoids processed food with an intention to provide healthy, simple, and delicious options for all dietary restrictions including dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan. Most of the menu ingredients are made from scratch to maintain the freshest quality and flavor such as the restaurant’s pesto, peanut butter, hummus, dressings, granola, spicy sauces, almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, cold-pressed juices, orange juice, lemonade, desserts, and more. Seafood comes from certified and responsible fishing techniques from artisanal fishermen from the Gulf of Nicoya. Pots & Bowls offers coffee from Café Willows from Naranjo, Hacienda Miramonte. The grains are 100% coffee arabica from a family business that has passed on through five generations making their coffee locally in Costa Rica. Signature vegan dishes include the vegetarian burger made with a veggie vegan patty cake, avocado sauce, arugula, and caramelized onions or cauliflower rice bowl with hummus, kale, carrots, mushrooms, and tahini dressing. Enjoy the acai bowl with bananas, orange juice, blackberries, chia, granola, and other bowls. All the restaurant’s cold pressed juices are vegetarian and vegan, and some favorites include the green candy with pineapple, green apple, cucumber, and mint or the carrot wonder with carrot, green apple, red apple, ginger, and lime. www.lascatalinascr.com
Marisule Gros Islet, Saint Lucia
As one of the only properties in Saint Lucia to offer a dedicated vegan menu, Calabash Cove Resort and Spa offers diverse vegetarian and vegan dishes with an international flair. With its ability to accommodate most dietary restrictions, the culinary team is constantly upgrading its vegan and vegetarian offerings with new items based on the seasons. The resort also only serves to spark and drinking water in glass bottles and much of the restaurant’s food and beverage is sourced locally focusing on local farmers and fishermen. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Windsong Restaurant offers an eclectic menu inspired by Asian cuisine using the freshest, local ingredients in every dish. Calabash Cove Resort and Spa now offers an all-vegan dinner for the first time ever. The vegan dinner menu features dishes including Yellow Split Peas Soup with sweet potato, Tempura Cauliflower Bites, Sesame Braised Eggplant, Pan Seared Tofu, Vegetable Stroganoff, Grilled Cinnamon Pineapple and more. The culinary team at Windsong Restaurant can accommodate guests’ special diet needs and personal requests. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Windsong Restaurant offers an eclectic menu inspired by Asian cuisine using the freshest, local ingredients in every dish. Calabash Cove Resort and Spa is a Caribbean gem offering seclusion, beauty, and mesmerizing views at every turn. Its 26 villas feature old Caribbean charm coupled with the luxurious resort amenities of today.
Along with being completely plastic-free, some other notable green features the intimate resort offers include: all hot water is generated by solar energy and there are no oil or gas heaters on the property, energy-saving LEDs in all light fixtures, operate own on-site water treatment plant and recycle the water for irrigation, timers for all pool pumps, collect rainwater, no disposable food containers or disposable cups and glasses, lunch boxes made from recycled material, straws made from degradable paper, no disposable plastics like cutlery or plates, all produce sourced from local farmers whenever possible, collect used kitchen oil and send to a commercial laundry and Saint Lucia Distillers on the island – it is used as fuel to heat laundry water or fire a distillation still, extremely seldom fog grounds for mosquitos to allow birdlife to flourish, grass cuttings are mulched back into the ground and composted, kitchen waste is collected and given to a pig farmer and more. www.calabashcove.com
Rome, Italy
Within walking distance from historic landmarks including the Colosseum, Opera House, Forum, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps, Bettoja Hotels offers three hotels located in the heart of Rome. In 1875 Maurizio Bettoja, passionate about wines, good food, and hotels, opened a restaurant just above his wine cellar which today offers a unique setting for special candlelit dinners. Located in Hotel Massimo D’AzeglioRistorante Massimo D’Azeglio offers traditional cuisine from Piedmont along with international dishes. Known for its ancient wine cellar with more than 1800 bottles including precious labels, the restaurant’s vegetarian menu has grown over the years. Signature favorites include courgette flowers stuffed with buffalo mozzarella and organic ricotta with cream of Jerusalem artichoke, chickpea soup with olive oil and rosemary, risotto with tomato, cumin seeds, and lemon sauce, stir-fried mushrooms and potatoes with garlic, parsley, sage and marjoram, cereal salad, red rice with vegetables, basmati rice with chickpeas and rocket salad, organic pasta and more. Newer vegetarian dishes include Tuscan spelled soup with bread crust and pecorino mousse, sauteed wholemeal fusillade, courgette cream and ginger, toasted vegetable quinoa with potato mousse, and grilled radicchio and special desserts including apple pie with mascarpone cream, chocolate mousse with wasabi and raspberry cream and Chef’s tiramisù. www.bettojahotels.it.
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