The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Vegetarian Exchange Programs in Costa Rica

Posted on December 14, 2012 by The VRG Blog Editor

A reader asked about her vegetarian teen daughter doing a summer exchange program in Cost Rica. One program told her it would be hard to accommodate a vegetarian.

For information on a vegetarian student in Costa Rica, see

Sarah Alper, a VRG volunteer who is a sophomore in college and is planning to study in Latin America next year, writes:

I’m not sure that I know any vegans who’ve studied abroad in Costa Rica, especially through programs for high school students. The main program that comes to mind as being a possibility is Living Routes (, which focuses on sustainability and has semester programs in CR as well as summer programs in Brazil, Peru, and Australia. I know they accept gap year (before college) kids; I am not sure about students under 18. From their website, it sounds like they’re very amenable to vegan participants:

“Q. What is the food like on the programs?
A. Almost all meals are included in the cost of the program, and consist of healthy vegetarian fare made from local ingredients. There are vegan options and a good deal of the food is organically grown in the host communities. Homestay families make an effort to accommodate special dietary needs as well.”

The School for Field Studies ( has a summer program in Costa Rica, but I think it’s intended for undergrads–perhaps something to keep in mind for the future. According to their website, vegan students have successfully participated in the past:

“Student Dietary Preferences, such as a vegan or vegetarian diet may be accommodated, but the variety of food may be limited due to the location of the program, travel schedules, etc. Due to the group nature of the SFS experience, the cooks are unable to prepare individual meals. Although past vegan students have found our meals to be both delicious and sufficient, please be prepared to bear any additional costs associated with veganism or any special dietary requirements.”

Based on what I know about the typical Costa Rican diet, which includes lots of rice and beans, as well as fresh fruit, as opposed to that of other countries in Latin America where meat is more central, it seems relatively easy to follow a vegan diet in Costa Rica.

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2 to “Vegetarian Exchange Programs in Costa Rica”

  1. Kathy Dempsey says:

    I would advise caution in Costa Rica. I have just spent 3 weeks studying Spanish here in a town near San Jose. The food that is served in restaurants is very westernized (meat, dairy and more meat). I cooked for myself here and I had a hard time even finding brown rice and old-fashioned oats.

    Gallo pinto is vegan, but commercial seasoning packets for gallo pinto sold here include animal products. It depends upon the cook. I bought mainly fruits & vegetables here. I brought oatmeal & bread from the States.

    It is possible to eat vegetarian or vegan here, but it takes some planning & effort. In my 2nd week I was able to locate non-dairy milk, good whole grain bread and even a box of Boca burgers (which I did not buy).

  2. The vegetarian food in Costa Rica is great! I was there for 2 years and I learned SO much about the vegetarian food.

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