Cozumel can be an indulgent foodie jackpot – and that’s not just for carnivores.
The place is full of decadent drinks, melty tacos, incredible pastries, killer coconut ice cream, and lots and lots of meat.
And also it’s a great place to find fresh fruit juices and smoothies, grain bowls, locally made kefir and kombucha, and a growing number of vegetarian and vegan menu selections.
Cozumel’s well-known rich food scene now includes a growing number of options for vegetarians and vegans. The island has several health-food cafes and grocery stores with plant-based choices, organic ingredients, and healthy alternatives for anyone avoiding meat, dairy, or other specific dietary ingredients like gluten.
Cozumel can be a wonderful getaway for a healthy and restorative vacation or even a longer-term remote working spot for vegetarians, vegans, and the health and fitness conscious. If you know where to look.
Cozumel Supports a Healthy Lifestyle
Naturally warm and breezy, the island has super fresh air, plenty of vitamin D, and an easy walking and ocean swimming culture. There are new permanent bike lanes that are somewhat disruptive to car traffic but are also in notably heavy daily use.
It’s no wonder it’s also becoming a home away from home for triathletes in training for our annual events like the Cozumel Ironman and the GFNY cycling event.
Side note: !Before your trip, check out this cool book (Amazon link) on running and Mexico’s super-food, the chia seed, for one more reason to be fascinated by Mexico. And superfoods. And ultra-marathoning.)
With each year, the island also gains a growing network of natural health and beauty stores, and new businesses focusing on hydroponics, organic gardening, yoga, clean living, detox, and plant-based, whole food eating.
Following a plant-based diet has never been easier for vegetarians and vegans in Cozumel.
There has really been a growth of the green living movement, in general, for the last several years – including more eco-friendly activities and excursions. And like everywhere else, that’s only going to continue.
The problem is, sometimes these new businesses don’t have the advertising and marketing dollars of a large hotel or restaurant chain, so they fly under the radar and are a bit harder to find.
So let’s go find them, and make sure they feel the plant-based appreciation.
Here are some of the most popular current places to visit (and support!) if you’re a vegetarian or vegan in Cozumel, or just anyone who needs a bit more than your hotel’s bean tacos or chips and salsa.
Great Vegetarian, Vegan, and Health Food Picks in Cozumel
La Cuisine was one of the first healthy food and vegetarian specialty spots to really take hold on the island, and it has only gotten stronger.
Located on a very convenient corner just one block away from the Mega supermarket, La Cuisine serves daily lunch specials prepared both traditionally and, when necessary, a vegetarian or vegan version.
They also have an impressive menu of fresh salads, entrees, buddha bowls, healthy smoothies, tofu scrambles, and a lot of other treats made with a mind toward healthier, plant-based ingredients.
It’s a warm, inviting cafe that has dine-in table service where you can enjoy all the freshly made fare, as well as a packed grocery area with harder-to-find items like organic apple cider vinegar, tahini, freshly prepared kombucha, sprouted breads, protein powders, alternative flours, natural beauty products, and more.
La Cuisine is at the corner of Calle 11 Sur (a.k.a. Av. Andres Quintana Roo) and Av. 5 Sur, one block south of Mega.
Check out their daily social media posts for current hours and daily specials.
And bonus: La Cuisine is also right next door to the visitor-friendly EgoGym that offers day passes and monthly memberships if you want to add a side of cardio in with your kombucha.
La Cozumeleña for Fresh Juices and More
La Cozumeleña is another local cafe, originally well known for its juices and smoothies.
La Cozumeleña is a bright charming spot full of healthy ingredients for sale, natural soaps and other home and body products, and a welcoming service counter where you can order up healthy foods and blended juices and smoothie drinks.
Located at the corner of Calle 11 Sur (a.k.a. Av. Andres Quintana Roo) just a few storefronts in from Av. Melgar (the main drag), also one block south of Mega.
Check out their daily social media posts for current hours and daily specials.
Another cool spot to find some vegetarian favorites and other plant-based ingredients is Nirvana Foods, a small specialty shop on Avenida 30 near Calle 3.
Nirvana Foods doesn’t serve food, but it’s a great place to stock up on some takeaway treats and other pantry items if you’re in town for several days, or find grab-and-go things like bottles of locally-made kombucha, etc.
If you’re doing a long-term rental in Cozumel, you’ll likely want to pick up some groceries and pantry items for your stay.
Local grocery stores in Cozumel have plenty of produce and vegan/vegetarian items, but I’d encourage you to visit this market for some great Indian and Thai-inspired variety.
Konstanz Fresh Bar
Konstanz is a relatively new and happy little place In the heart of Centro San Miguel, serving a great selection of healthy foods, including vegetarian options.
Many of their traditional items are made with alternative ingredients like coconut milk and butter alternatives, so do ask!
Located on Calle 2, just half a block inland from Melgar Ave. in the very center of Centro.
Aqui y Ahora Coffee (and Much More)
If you’re a vegetarian who is also looking for a great spot for local art, fun games, a great view, and much more, you should definitely check out Aqui y Ahora, a very popular new venture right on the malecón, opposite the ferry to Playa del Carmen.
To call it a coffee shop is kind of an understatement. They do, of course, have all the likely caffeinated suspects, like espresso and cold brew – you can even get a shot of CBD in your coffee.
In addition, though, the food menu also has a healthy number of vegetarian options, like avocado toast, portobello burgers, vegetarian ramen and pad thai, smoothie bowls, and more.
Open 7 days a week, this ideal spot for digital nomads and remote workers in Cozumel serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and serves a happy daily stream of locals and tourists, alike.
Don’t forget to check out their super-cool roof deck level, where a stellar view of the ocean competes with some incredible local art installations. Plus, there’s ping-pong, Jenga, and more fun table games to break the ice. This place is already a great addition to the many things to do in downtown Cozumel.
For more about Aqui y Ahora, check out our related post on doing your location independent work thing here in Cozumel, or go straight to the source: the A&A website, right here.
Location: Melgar Ave, just a block north of the Ferry terminal.
Veggie Choices in Cozumel’s Mexican Food Scene
Look for Cozumel’s Vegetarian Burritos
The burrito game in Cozumel is not huge, but it’s here and it’s satisfying.
Two popular local favorites are located right near each other, just north of the central plaza area: Burritos Gordito and Krazy King Burritos. (from the clock tower, walk north past Wet Wendy’s and Dick’s Dive, and keep going straight another block or two and you’ll see both).
Krazy King has the slight vegetarian edge for me, lately, primarily because of their Veggie Loco burrito, stuffed with grilled peppers, onions, beans, guacamole, and delicious pico de gallo. (sour cream comes on it, so if you’re vegan, ask them to hold the crema).
Also, look for places that serve tacos and burritos with the main veggie ingredient of Nopales, or diced cactus. It’s a fairly neutral flavor but gives a more satisfying bite and some really good nutrients and fiber.
To learn more about cooking with nopales, I recommend (again) taking the local cooking class that we mentioned here in this post. I had never had cactus before taking that class, but after learning how to clean and prepare it, and then tasting it in a handful of cool recipes, I’m now a huge fan.
In fact, you can also head right to the aptly named Nopales taco joint at Av. 30 between Calles 17 and 19 Sur for some awesome cheap eats in the form of nopales tacos for about $1 buck a piece.
La Clasica is a hip new take on a traditional Mexican cantina, and already makes our list of best bars.
La Clasica also has great food, including plenty of meaty options like brisket tacos and roasted bone marrow.
But it also has a few fresh vegetarian options, including a delicious mid-sized burrito stuffed with mushrooms, beets, poblanos, and goat cheese (optional).
Another great selection is their tlayudas, including one version with roasted vegetables and no meat. Again, this comes with melty cheese on it, but I’m sure they’d make it without, for vegans, or perhaps offer a substitute.
La Clasica coincidentally shares some space with their little sister take-out joint called “GreenGo Cozumel.” GreenGo features some items that are fully vegan, so it definitely won’t come out of left field to ask.
Location: La Clasica is in the north end of Centro on Av. 5 Norte between Calles 4 and 6. Open for lunch and dinner. For more, check out their insta feed.
Kusam Cerveseria is a fun new corner bar in the north Centro area, featuring locally made beers on tap, and other cool drinks.
Kusam also has a casual pub menu, Mexico-style, including some veggie tacos and vegetarian nachos.
They also have a social media feed full of happy, smiling faces, so they must be doing something right.
More Plant-Based Menu Items
Sereno is a cool new rooftop restaurant with a high-end chef, wide-open spaces, an amazing view of the ocean, and a really nice menu full of forward-thinking cocktails and some more nouveau Mexican selections, like short-rib tacos, individual pizzas, a delicious burger, and some inventive plant-based selections to round out the menu.
You won’t have endless choices, but more than usual. Their hummus plate is really good, vegetable tacos are better than average, and my favorite was their roasted carrot dish – delicious, pretty, and surprisingly hearty.
Located on Melgar, about a mile south of downtown, on the roof above Papa Hogs dive shop, and the new Albatross Suites (which is a neat-looking boutique set of apartments for short-term rentals).
Something tells me Sereno might be another cool spot for some remote working in Cozumel, too, but probably not during their busy dinner hours.
Find out more – including how to make a reservation on busy nights – at their (nice) website.
Plant-based Italian Ideas – Risotto or Eggless Pasta, Anyone?
Cozumel already has a lot of great Italian food spots, which you can read more about in our full eaters’ guide to Cozumel.
Most of these places have at least a handful of vegetable dishes, so they’re always a great choice when you have mixed diet needs in your group.
From primavera and mushroom dishes, etc., Italian restaurants often have easier ways to work around meat (though those who keep to a dairy-free diet still have a harder time working around the butter and cheeses).
New Especias Italian
One really nice bistro that comes to mind is New Especias.
They are proud to offer eggless pasta available (be sure to request it, though, as it might not be the default on every dish), gnocchi (potato), and other ways to stay vegan while having a great Italian meal in a cozy setting.
New Especias is located just off the corner of 5th Av Sur and Calle 3. Open for dinner.
If you’ve read our other posts on some favorite Cozumel restaurants, you’ll know K’ooben Laab is among our top go-to spots for fresh homemade pasta, inventive specials, daily home-baked bread, some of the island’s best coffee knowledge, and…THE best mixed salad in Cozumel.
There, I said it. This salad is huge and full of fresh lettuces, ribbons of zucchini, carrot, tomatoes, and various seasonal seeds and other veggies.
Everything is amazing at this spot, and if you let them know you’re vegetarian or vegan, they’ll fix you up, right. I’m only partly plant-based, so I usually stick to their incredible pesto, mushroom risotto, the salads, and/or whatever veggie-based special they might have going that day.
Located on Av. 30 near Calle 5 Sur.
Follow them on insta to get a glimpse of some of these incredible daily specials coming out of this very cool kitchen.
Indian Food in Cozumel
One thing I was pleasantly surprised by living in Cozumel is that there are some interesting international restaurants serving up various cuisines from South and Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, the Philippines, and India.
In the central mercado municipal you’ll find Indonesian lunch counters serving up delicious dishes, largely to cater to the staff and crew members of various cruise ships that dock in port.
One of my favorite cuisines represented here is Indian food.
Hindu Restaurant in Downtown San Miguel
The current winner for me is Hindu, located in the north end of downtown on Avenida 10 and 6th Street.
The Hindu restaurant definitely serves up some delicious meat dishes like the classic masalas and biryanis, it has likely the greatest number of choices for vegans and vegetarians looking for a change of pace.
Enjoy various dal (lentil) dishes, lemon rice, chana masala, aloo gobi (w/potato and cauliflower), and more.
Finding their own restaurant space during Covid surely wasn’t easy but they landed in a nice space on Avenue 5 and Calle 6, and are working away daily.
If you stop in now you’ll love their hospitality service and selection, and you can always follow them on Facebook to find their full menu and use take their takeout service at home delivery instead.
A warm shout out to one of the first places in town to offer some focus on vegetarian and vegan alternatives, namely with their falafel, hummus, babaganoush, tabouli salad, and other plant-based favorites.
Arabian Tacos keeps a low profile, but they’ve been a local standby for vegetarians for years, and are well worth a visit.
Located on Av. 30 and Calle 4, 2 blocks north of the Transversal road (for regulars, that’s about a block and a half north of El Pique taqueria, one of our other favorites for some great local tacos).
Rockin Java Cafe
Finally, I realized when checking over our list of the best burgers in Cozumel, one of the first and favorite plant-based menu items I found here was Rockin Java’s truly stand-out veggie burger.
It’s unlike and way better than any I’ve had elsewhere. It’s also huge and served with sweet potato fries. Also delicious.
Rockin Java has plenty more going for it, but if you’re on the hunt for good plant-based eating in Cozumel, definitely add this one to your list.
When all else fails, those of you who do eat cheese can find shelter in one of Cozumel’s many great pizza places – check out my favorites right here in this pizza post.