The enormous consumption of meat is an ever-present part of the imagery of Argentine cuisine. Even a young Charles Darwin was astonished at how much beef the gaucho's ate for months on end. But the great naturalist's experience of Argentine carnivorousness was positively mild compared to that of the modern day visitor. Argentina is a carnivore's idea of heaven and is second only to the United States of America as the largest consumer of beef in the world. That is a lot of beef, considering the USA has over seven times more people! These days, beef is only part of a serious meat-eater's diet and you will be amazed at the size and variety of offerings if you indulge at a parilla (roasting kitchen). Argentines have also elevated the barbecue (asado) to an art form and it makes the shrink-wrapped pieces of meat we buy in supermarkets look, quite frankly, pathetic.

Despite this great meat-fest the situation is not as desperate as it might seem to some vegetarians. There are always meat-free options at most restaurants and these include empanadas, pasta, pizza, omelettes, tortillas and salads. Tenedor libres (all you can eat buffets) also provide a source of fresh salad and vegetables. There are also a number of vegetarian restaurants to be found throughout the country and these provide a welcome relief from the food mentioned above. Over the last decade the number of vegetarian restaurants has grown to cater for the ever increasing number of tourists and local people interested in healthy alternatives.

If you are planning to visit Argentina or are currently travelling in the country, you might want to make a note of the following vegetarian restaurants. In Buenos Aires some of the hippest eateries are steak-free and we recommend you try Bio, Krishna, Masamadre, Providencia, or Verdellama. Granix (Florida 165 - first floor in the Mitre Building) is also a good choice in the capital for an all-you-can-eat buffet (lunch time only). Another two excellent all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffets include Soychu in San Juan and the Green Apple in Mendoza. There are also many other veggie options in Mendoza. For a cosy and relaxing experience try Verde Gourmet if you find yourself in Colon (Entre Rios). You won't find a warmer or more passionate couple running a vegetarian restaurant in Argentina. Although just over the border in Chile, you will also enjoy the food and atmosphere offered at El Living in Puerto Natales. A popular spot to fill up on veggie fare before and after your hike in Torres Del Paine. Please visit the Happy Cow website for details of other vegetarian restaurants in Argentina and other South American countries.

Author's Bio: 

Stephen Knight is the webmaster of Volunteer Latin America