At Mariposa Jungle Lodge, a boutique luxury resort in the Cayo District of Belize, a vegan is an honored guest.
A vegan is a person who eats nothing derived from animals, whereas a vegetarian (other than a lacto-vegetarian) may eat dairy products as well as other non-animal derived meats.
Over the years, the requests for vegetarian and vegan menus has become so prevalent, the Chef has created a vegetarian and vegan version of each Mariposa specialty menu.
According to Mariposa Chef, Esau Tzib, “It’s especially satisfying to learn we’ve provided food service beyond the expectation of our guests. I’ve been excited by the opportunity to create more vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.”
Stocks are made from vegetables rather than chicken, meat or fish. Vegetable oils replace butter. Cauliflower, black bean, zucchini/potato/cilantro, ginger carrot and tomato lime soups are among the vegan favorites.
“When a guest confirms a reservation, we send a personalized Food Preference Questionnaire for completion and return. This enables us to adapt our recipes to please the taste of each individual guest and address food sensitivity issues,” explains Sharyn Brinker, Owner of Mariposa.
Nelmarie Bol, Lodge Manager, works with the Chef and staff to honor dietary restrictions without making guests self-conscious about their preferences. For example, Mariposa’s signature coco-pine entree is served with jicama instead of shrimp or chicken but the presentation is the same. Mariposa has adapted all its recipes to satisfy the preferences and needs of vegans, vegetarians and people with gluten sensitivity.
Vegan guests have been generous in verbalizing appreciation of the food service at Mariposa Jungle Lodge. Shannon, a vegan marathon runner from Connecticut who stayed at Mariposa Jungle Lodge in December reported she’d brought some food with her in case she encountered lack of awareness in the jungle. She also emailed Mariposa after leaving with the following message: “Our dinner last night was at (name withheld by Mariposa). They have a vegetarian menu but when I ordered, the waiter asked “do you want that with chicken or fish?” That should have been the red flag! I specifically said “no queso” “no cheese” & “no dairy”. The black bean soup arrived with a huge scoop of sour cream floating in it.”
In her Trip Advisor review, the same guest reported, “Another “WOW” factor at Mariposa Jungle Lodge was the food! We could not wait to see what was on the menu each night and we were never disappointed. I want to preface this by stating I am vegan so eating out can be difficult – especially in other countries. I was absolutely amazed at the meals Sharyn and her chef Esau came up with. Every menu item had a vegetarian and vegan version so I was in heaven. Homemade soups, local dishes that I never thought I would be able to sample, even vegan stuffing for Christmas dinner! For those without dietary restrictions, not to worry … my husband is a carnivore and was equally as satisfied; even today he says “I miss Sharyn’s meals”.
If there a correlation between the growth of adventure tourism and the rise in dietary sensitivities, Mariposa Jungle Lodge is ready to lead the field in serving guest preferences.