Written by Jackie Sloves for Anamaya
It’s uncommon to find vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurants in Costa Rica, but here at Anamaya Resort Hotel we wish to make delicious menu options for all diets. At Anamaya Hotel Resort, we are not strictly vegetarian, though we do promote a detoxifying lifestyle. This includes meals that are prepared with only the freshest, organic ingredients grown locally within Costa Rica. We cater to vegetarians and vegans at every meal, as it is a common request.
What is “vegetarian”?
A vegetarian diet does not include meat. There are varying degrees of vegetarianism, in which some may eat fish (also called pescatarian), and some may eat eggs (Ovo-lacto-vegetarian). A balanced vegetarian diet substitutes protein-rich foods such as legumes, nuts, whole grains, dairy, and soy products for meat products.
Why become a vegetarian?
There are many reasons why one may choose to become vegetarian. Some people decide to eliminate meat from their diets for health reasons, while others may do so for environmental reasons, or moral reasons.
There have been many studies to determine the health effects of a balanced vegetarian diet. The health benefits include lower risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. Meat products, especially red meat, are generally high in cholesterol, saturated
fat, and salt. Because a vegetarian diet does not include meat, vegetarians generally have lower risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. The balanced vegetarian diet is enriched with fibrous fruits and vegetables, which promote a healthy and well functioning digestive system.
Meat products take much more energy and time to digest than other foods, whereas foods high in fiber digest quickly and efficiently. Because of this, there is less of build up of toxins and other foods from a vegetarian diet. Instead, build up and toxins are cleansed, providing a natural way to detoxify the body. In addition, livestock are subject to antibiotics and pesticides, which are present in meat when consumed by humans. These antibiotics and pesticides are known to have a negative impact on human health. 99% of U.S. mother’s milk was found to have a significant amount of DDT, compared to 8% of U.S. vegetarian mothers. When eating organic fruits and vegetables instead of meat products, one does not consume antibiotics or pesticides. Here in Costa Rica much of the meat is free range and produced by family farms, rather than the mass production of meat in slaughterhouses in the United States.
As you drive through the towns of Montezuma and Mal Pais, you can see cows grazing among the luscious green pastures.
There is a limited supply of land and water that can be used for agricultural production. However, if allocated properly, there is enough land to produce enough food for the entire world, and then some. 80% of corn and 95% of oats grown in the United States are used to feed livestock. 5,000 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of beef, whereas 25 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of wheat. In addition, three times as many fossil fuels are needed to sustain a meat-centered diet than vegetarian diet. Allocating the land to the production of grain for human consumption rather than livestock consumption would reduce the amount fossil fuels produced, and help to mitigate the effects of global warming. In the United States, forests are cleared in order to provide more area to produce livestock. However, in Costa Rica this is not as prevalent.
In addition, many measures are taken to keep Costa Rica’s forests healthy; 2 trees are planted for every 1 that is cut down. The forests here are growing rather than shrinking. Costa Rica is on its way to being the first country that is carbon neutral. Many of the farms are organic and family-run.
Some people choose to be vegetarian because they are not comfortable with the notion of killing animals, while others believe the meat industry subjects animals to atrocious living conditions. Some even do so for humanitarian reasons; slaughterhouse workers have the highest turnover rate, and the highest rate of on-the-job-injury in the United States.
Here at Anamaya Hotel, we don’t serve exclusively vegetarian food, but we certainly respect this choice and honor the profound benefits to both diet and environment that vegetarian cooking has. Many of our guests request vegetarian meals, and we wish to accommodate all diets, so there are always vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and meat options available. Please let us know in advance if you would like one of these options.