September 08, 2022
223: The Ultimate Cancun Vacation Checklist with Maya Acosta

Today, we'll look at the best foods in Mexico, dietary meals you can make, and how to enjoy dining out in restaurants while on vacation. Stay in touch and discover how to make the most of your vacation travel arrangements whi...

Today, we'll look at the best foods in Mexico, dietary meals you can make, and how to enjoy dining out in restaurants while on vacation. Stay in touch and discover how to make the most of your vacation travel arrangements while a maintaining plant-based diet.

Key takeaways to listen for 

  • Ideal foods to prepare when traveling
  • Recommended vegan restaurants in Cancun to explore
  • Delectable vegan cuisine to round out your leisure experience
  • How to travel and eat nutritiously while following a plant-based diet

Resources mentioned in this episode

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YouTube channel: Healthy Lifestyle Solutions
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Friends, I just returned from my vacation to Cancun. In this episode, we will talk about what I ate in Mexico. I’ll share tips and lessons learned.  

I hope you caught this week’s guest interview. Dr. Michelle Tollefson came on the show to speak with us about the Blue Zones. These are areas throughout the world with the longest-lived people. She speaks about what these regions have in common and how lifestyle medicine can play a role in longevity. Dr. Tollefson also spoke with us about a  trip she has organized for Costa Rica during Thanksgiving week. Costa Rica is one of the Blue Zones she spoke about. Make sure to visit episode 222 to learn more.  

Also, check out my website for more great content: 

Prior to leaving for my vacation, I was very overwhelmed. I had several projects going on simultaneously. Needless to say, my husband and I rested for a few days by the pool.  

During this time, I was active on my Instagram account, sharing videos of how I prepare foods in our timeshare. Whenever we travel, we either stay at our timeshare, or we stay at a hotel that has a kitchenette.  

Prior to our departure, I made sure to prepare sandwiches and other snacks for the trip. As fate would have it, we ended up in first class for the first time in years. There we were offered bagels with salmon and other toppings. So I took only the bagel, onions, and tomatoes. I carried hummus with me. I also had vegan sandwiches. Also, we took a small fruit plate. We had a very comfortable flight. While we are allowed to fly internationally with food, it must be dumped as you go through customs. Fresh produce is not allowed. So a couple of my sandwiches had to be thrown out. 

Did you know that you can comfortably travel with small appliances? We enjoy traveling with our small Nespresso machine since we still drink coffee.  

During this Cancun trip, we decided to purchase a small blender to make daily smoothies. I will tell you more about this in a minute.  

We landed in Cancun, rented a vehicle, and headed to our timeshare. By this time, we were very hungry and ready to eat. We usually do not count on eating at the restaurants at the Westin in Cancun because they usually have limited options. But we spotted a vegan burger and decided to split one. We typically avoid burgers because they feel very heavy. 

You usually have to give the waiter a few ideas on how you want your food prepared. I have also found that the best way to emphasize that you are dairy free is by saying “sin lactose”. This covers all the basic associations with dairy found in food. Waiters respect you being lactose intolerant more than being vegan.  

After lunch, we headed to Walmart to do groceries. By the way, if you do travel to Mexico, make sure to take reusable bags. Many places now avoid using plastic bags. You will be charged a small fee for the reusable bag.  

This time, we decided to purchase a small blender and lots of greens. I have been drinking green smoothies for a few weeks now and wanted to maintain this habit. You can visit my other Instagram account @plantbaseddfw for ideas of what we ate. I thought it would be fun to make food reels that included the Spanish words since I  was in Mexico. So make sure to check out those videos on my Instagram.  

In our timeshare, I prepared green smoothies prepared mango and papaya for the pool. Had Chia pudding with mango or papaya every other morning. I also made my smoothies. I made sushi rolls with rice and fresh ingredients. We had black beans and rice. Salads and other easy foods. 

For the most part, we hardly ate at the Westin restaurants. We had that initial burger upon arrival. On another occasion during the Mayan show, there was a Mexican buffet with plenty of options like rice, beans, nopales, tortillas, salads, and an amazing salad bar.  

Across from our timeshare is a shopping mall called La Isla.  

We went across to La Isla to a Mexican restaurant that served us a  fresh salad, a mango ceviche, and a rice and beans burrito. Another time we headed to a Pizzeria and had a vegan pizza with a fresh salad.  

Another time we dined at Ryoshi Japanese restaurant where we had delicious mushroom gyoza, a sweet potato roll, and a spinach salad.  

I’ve mentioned the Happy Cow app that shows you restaurants in the area which offer vegan options and those that are fully vegan. We were fortunate to have eaten at a fully vegan restaurant in the central part of Cancun called Baovegan. We had the pozole, enfrijoladas, and vegetable soup.  

Another time we dined at a finer area of Cancun called Puerto Cancun. The restaurant was called Cenacolo. There we had a minestrone soup and shared marinara pasta. To be honest, eating out can be very difficult. But we indulge every once in a while to enjoy the ambiance and the sunsets.  

After a few days of resting by the pool, we headed down south to Tulum and to Playa del Carmen. While we both have visited these quaint beach towns in the past, we were both impressed by the amount of vegan restaurants in those areas.  

We headed to Tulum to visit the ruins. Here we had problems with the Happy Cow app since the directions were not accurate. We could not find two locations. One restaurant we searched for was temporarily closed. This was very disappointing. We had lunch at a spot which offered a vegan menu. There we both had a vegan omelet and fresh juice. 

A couple of days later, we headed to Playa del Carmen where we ate at the Coral Vegan Pizza restaurant which had the best vegan pizza I have ever eaten. I highly recommend this place. We strolled around the busy stores located near the beach. Very impressed with the massive amount of restaurants and shops which seemed never ending.  

Overall, we felt that Tulum and Playa del Carmen have more options for vegan and those seeking to eat healthier foods. You will have to drive down south 1-2 hours to the locations. But because of construction, the traffic will slow you down.  

We’ve decided that next time we head to Quintana Roo, we will spend less time in Cancun and much more time exploring Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and the cenotes found in those areas.  

As our trip concluded, we headed to the airport. This time, I failed to plan my meals. We tried having lunch at a vegan restaurant at the airport just before going through security. I was so glad that I mentioned being vegan to the waitress because she told me that rice was prepared with chicken stock and the beans, tamales and tortillas had pork lard. Now we are ethical vegans. We will not eat anything with animal by-products.  

So we checked in, headed to our gate, and later discovered one restaurant had vegan burgers. Again, not what I would’ve wanted but my only choice to avoid starvation. This is why I always emphasize meal planning.  

Here is what worked for us. Having a kitchenette is very valuable for us. It helps to avoid eating out. Many restaurants use plenty of oil in their foods. By cooking in our room, we have healthier and more delicious options.  

I travel with my spices in small jars. 

I enjoyed having a small blender for smoothies.  

Every once in a while, we enjoy eating out. But it can be tricky. Many people still do not know how to prepare healthy plant-based meals.  

Okay friends, next week I have 3 episodes for you. I have a bonus episode with another great pod leader named Dr. Cheryl True, followed by an interview with Janet Gourand. We are going to speak about sobriety. This is going to be a great episode. Did you know that one of the pillars of lifestyle medicine is on reducing our use of risky substances? Yes, smoking and alcohol consumption are 2 things we must avoid to reduce our risks for diseases and cancer. Janet will speak about how her Tribe Sober community in South Africa where she is helping people to end their relationship with alcohol which creates a life where they can thrive. Please make sure to tune in.