The vegan "gringo" survival guide to Chile
Hey, this "guide" is not going to be updated, and Chile is (as you might expect) getting more and more vegan friendly. The best, most complete and regularly updated guide to vegetarian/vegan friendly shops and restaurants in Santiago and the rest of Chile is compiled by Alejandro Ayala Polanco and can be found HERE.
Simond's - you can find sun block by this brand in supermarkets (e.g. JUMBO). As far as I know all are vegan.
Marraqueta (regular white bread, see below, always has its typical shape) is almost always vegan. Find it in supermarkets (e.g. JUMBO or Unimarc) in the open bread section, bag it, take it to the person who weighs it, and stick the label on the bag. Only then will you be able to read the ingredients.
Ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt, oil
This Tuscan olive bread from JUMBO is also vegan, oily, nice, and lasts a few days.
Pancho Villa has several types of vegan tortilla wraps (JUMBO, Unimarc,...). (According to the manufacturer the sodium stearoyl lactylate is vegan.)
San Camilo, a common bakery chain in Santiago (including in some metro stations and the Terminal de Buses in Santiago), has a type of bread called "pan foca" that's vegan.
Only some JUMBOs import this from Germany.
There's also this chocolate spread - but not sure if it still exists (bought in Diprovena).
Easy to find, but I have never found any without hydrogenated fat. Someone needs to start importing this from Bolivia maybe.
No hydrogenated fat - but this one is from Buenos Aires and not available in Chile as far as I know.
This almond butter is by Macrobiotica Chile.
Supermarkets and Arabic shops, expensive ($5,000 - 6,000 CLP)
There might be a few, there used to be none. I always buy this one: Deline
This one is rumoured to be vegan among Chilean vegans, but it contains hydrogenated fat, monodiglycerides, and vitamin A.
I only know Ecocare have a vegan paté, but it's imported from the US and contains hydrogenated fat.
Honey type things:
"Miel" doesn't only refer to honey from bees, but anything honey like. Agave syrup is only available in specialty shops and overpriced. You can find "miel de palma" or "miel de almendras" in supermarkets. Maple syrup is also very expensive.
For Kellogg's type cereal you'll have to read the ingredients. I always eat instant oats, because it is fortified with a good amount of calcium (e.g. JUMBO or Quaker). Quinoa isn't cheaper than in Europe.
This is the only cheese I know of (I haven't tried it.). Vegania Slowcheese
Some Chinese shops sometimes sell it, but the best place to buy tofu (in Santiago) is Arte Vegetal, near La Moneda (much cheaper than in Europe). This is the best vegetarian shop in Santiago anyway.
Diprovena sell it (even though they claim it contains B12 - go tell them off for being so irresponsible). For more fancy things, see these links.
This tempeh is by Macrobiotica Chile.
You can buy ready made seitan products in vegetarian and health food shops. But gluten flour can be found in any tostaduría (very cheap).
Nuts/seeds (and dried fruit):
The best place are tostadurías or maybe Planta Maestra. The easiest to find are peanuts, almonds, and salted cashews.
The best soy milk in Chile is by Olvebra (from Brazil). You can find it in Arte Vegetal or buy it in bulk, much cheaper, from Tostaduría Puerto Rico.
Ades and Lider (own brand) also have plain soy milks, but both contain vitamin D, and I'm not convinced by the claims of this being vegan (anyway, who cares).
Some supermarkets now also sell expensive, imported soy, almond and other plant milks - also available in some health food shops like Orgänisk. Overpriced.
Supermarkets also sell powdered soy milk (see 3rd from left above).
Chinese shops and Arte Vegetal also sell Chinese soy milk in powdered form. See some more powdered soy milks here.
Very common are juices with added soy. They are however mostly sugar and water, with some juice and very little soy.
This is the weirdest tasting plant milk: black bean and sesame milk (as powder)
Olvebra also make a sweet condensed milk (much too sweet) - Arte Vegetal or Diprovena.
The only place that has Silk soymilk in Chile is Starbucks, but they won#t sell you a carton of soy milk, of course.
If you're very lucky and in a good supermarket in a good area: the original Boca burgers.
In supermarkets: different kinds of Vegetalex (from Argentina) burgers and milanesas
Some supermarkets also have Vegetalex "Bocaditos de Soja - Acelga & Espinaca" (The "Bocaditos de Soja - Sabor Pollo" now apparently contain eggs.).
Arte Vegetal, Diprovena, Planta Maestra, Ecocare, and other health food shops. They're usually all the same. Careful when frying - some are individually wrapped in plastic.
Many different types of Italian style pasta in supermarkets or Asian noodles in Chinese shops.
There are quite many vegan cookies commonly available in Chile. The following are the most widely available ones:
Frac: "Vainilla" (blue) and "Clásica" (black)
Most types of Oreos are also vegan in Chile (and Bolivia, but not in Argentina).
Costa has a few types of vegan biscuits.
Some more cookies.
Very common vegan crackers (not sweet).
...and many imported brands with English ingredient lists for your convenience.
Several brands of sorbets (e.g. Coppelia, JUMBO, or Guallarauco), no ice creams as far as I know.
I don't think there is any, apart from a hydrogenated one but I don't know the brand.
There is vegan yoghurt named Bioghurt by Zen Organics, sold in the JUMBO in La Reina (Santiago). I've once bought a yoghurt that seemed more like soy milk jelled with agar agar, but not sure if this is the same.
You can also ask questions (in Spanish) about vegan products in Chile on this facebook group.
Commercial vegan mayonnaise is not common (some supermarkets and health food shops might have it.) - "home made" ones are more common, for example like the one in Arte Vegetal.
I've only seen it in Chinese shops in Independecia (Santiago).
Chilean vegan brands are Kunstmann (not the one with honey obviously), Austral, and Salzburg - or stick to imported German or Austrian beer, or Heineken, Escudo, Cristal, Austral, or look on Barnivore.
You can look on Barnivore for updates. These three companies are vegan and widely available (e.g. in JUMBO). If you love wine, just drink whatever, it's microingredients after all.
Fresh juice (in a juice bar) is blended fruit with water - safe to drink. But commerical juices are mostly sugar and water with some fruit juice from concentrate. Real fruit juice is very expensive.
Afe 100% juice
about $2,000 CLP (one liter) and not exactly the best grape juice ever
Pancho Villa vegan refried beans, with black beans (frijoles negros) or white beans (bayos).
I have only seen Amy's products in the Unimarc near the mall Parque Arauco, Las Condes, Santiago. Most of them had cheese, but some were vegan. Expensive ($5,000-6,000 CLP).
Vegan gyozas (vegetable filled dough pockets) and spring rolls can sometimes be found in Chinese shops or supermarkets (brands: Formosa or Shen, careful they also make gyozas with meat).
Some supermarkets have round potato filled croquettes called "duquesas", some brands are vegan, for example McCain.
Some supermarkets also have vegan humitas (a typical Chilean summer food made from ground corn, onions and vegetable fat, wrapped in corn husks , but unfortunately I don't know the brand.
palmitos (hearts of plam)
lúcuma (with added sugar)
dulce de membrillo (quince jam)
Alcohol gel (Simond's) - all Chileans use alcohol gel.
Supermarkets vary depending on the area: for example, JUMBO in one area might have a great selection of everything, whereas in another (poorer) area, the selection might be more limited.
Nuts 4 nuts stalls in the center of Santiago sell "honey roasted nuts", but they're really sugar roasted peanuts - no honey.
Also try "mote con huesillo" during the summer months.
"Humitas" could theoretically be vegan, but you'll need to ask what kind of fat they use - manteca vegetal, oil, or animal fat (also a summer food).
Papas fritas (French fries) - a main part of the Chilean diet, usually fried in vegetable oil. "Papas fritas" also means "potato chips" (American) / "crisps" (UK).
Arte Vegetal in the center sells great vegan sandwiches, burgers, empanadas, tartlets etc. - the best place to get decent food in the center (Santiago).
Have a look at La Vega in the center and small bi-weekly "ferias" (fruit and vegetable street markets). There are also many single stalls selling fruit (also avocados) - also in the center.
Look here and on veganguide.org, and also the Homo Vegetus guide of vegetarian friendly shops and restaurants but there really isn't any really good vegetarian restaurant in Santiago. El Huerto is fine, but really makes zero effort for vegans. The best place to go is Miyako (or other sushi restaurants).
You can also find vegan food in Gatsby (huge buffet with salads, stir fried vegetables, olives, and some beans - the duquesas and humitas are store bought, they might be vegan, but I couldn't find out - about $7,000 - 9,000 CLP for all-you-can-eat buffet.)
Ordered without cheese, you can also get a vegan sandwich in Subway.
In Johnny Rockets (there are only two, way out East in Santiago, one in La Dehesa and one in the mall Alto Las Condes) the soy burger (Streamliner® - Hamburguesa de Soya) is completely vegan (Boca Burger, vegan bun, etc.)!
In Puerto Natales (in southern Patagonia) there is El Living.
What a "gringo" is, is not exactly defined. It's also used as an insult, but mostly it's used in a "neutral" way - describing someone from the US (literally) but (actually) also anyone from Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand etc. - from any country that Latin Americans would associate with "rich, white people". I find that even this "neutral" usage of the word "gringo" is discriminatory ("xenophobic" comes closer than "racist"). "Gringo" can refer to nationality, culture, as well as skin color. Will Smith would surely be considered a gringo, whereas a black man from Cuba wouldn't be, from England probably, from Germany or France maybe, from Spain maybe not.
Ironically I find Chileans much more "gringo" (as in influenced by US-American culture) than me.
A gringo (it seems) will always be a gringo, and will be treated as such, differently, even if one has lived in Chile for many years.
Beware of pickpockets everywhere. Keep your money and passport on your body, invisible and inaccessible for pickpockets. If someone on a bus squeezes past you, they're probably a pickpocket with their hand in your pocket. Don't be a hero, don't confront anyone, just don't have anything valuable in your outer pockets.
I prefer to take a colectivo at night, rather than a bus.
It's always good to have your wallet with a smaller amount of money (maybe $20,000 pesos) accessible (for you) - if you get mugged (unlikely) having something is much better than saying you have nothing. Walk with confidence and give people the "I will take out your eyes with a spoon" look - if necessary - after a while this will come naturally. Avoid dangerous, poor, dark areas at night, and it's very unlikely anything will happen. I lived in Santiago for 16 months in total, and nothing ever happened, only my camera got stolen on a bus when I was extremely careless.
Speaking English loudly in public places will attract pickpockets.
Don't only ask Chileans how safe a place is, ask foreigners, too - ask someone who looks and is similar to you, if possible.
Chilean society seems very damaged by white racism. There is (1) racism against people with darker skin, (2) racism against "white" people, but also (3) racism against themselves. All people are of somewhat "mixed" ancestry, but some people more so (or more recently/more visibly so) than others. Many Chileans look like "typical" Germans or Spaniards. Most Chileans however look "partly Native American". Many South Americans find this "idea" insulting. The word "indio" is an insult throughout South America.
Even though many Chileans would support the idea of equality for Mapuche or Aymara Chileans, they would not think of themselves as partly Mapuche or Aymara. Many young Chileans now seem to realize this (that their ancestors were Mapuche, Europeans, Africans etc.) and see this as a neutral fact. But the damage caused by white racism is still there. Look at any Chilean fashion catalog or magazine (also but less so on TV). All the models are tall, light skinned, with blond hair and often blue eyes.
Paradoxically some Chileans seem to have this ideal of beauty, but at the same time often find white people to look "funny".
Chilean society is becoming more international rapidly, and people will get more used to seeing others with different backgrounds.
Homophobia and sexism:
Chilean culture still seems very macho, and both men and women seem to be under a lot of pressure to conform to what men and women are supposed to and allowed to do. Things seem to be changing fast though, but violence against women (including rape) is still a lot more common than in Europe, I'm guessing.
Go to the Gay Pride (Orgullo Gay) in Santiago.
People kiss and are always late. Heavy petting in the streets.
Stay away from them. Don't bribe them. More trustworthy than in Brazil, but that doens't mean much.
Try to find one in the center that is used to tourists. Provincial post offices are likely to be staffed by idiots.
If you import something by post with a written customs value of more than $100 US-dollars, you might have to pay customs fees.
You CANNOT bring any fresh fruit, vegetables, seeds, or nuts into Chile, only processed products. If you bring vegan products like soy cheese or something similar, make sure you confidently say, that these products are "100% vegetal" and are soya products ("Soya" is the magic word.).
With an EU passport every new entry into Chile (even if you just leave Chile for a few hours) will give you a 90 day tourist visa. Longterm visas are more difficult to obtain, unless you are employed by a Chilean company.
For international calls I used a phone card: You dial the number on the card, then enter the pin, then dial the number you want to call - very cheap. Available in tabaquerías/places that sell lottery tickets.
Theoretically this shouldn't cost the phone you are using anything. In reality I think there is a small charge though, and it doesn't seem to work if your phone has zero credit.
Old Chilean toilets are not very good at flushing paper. For this reason many Chileans put the used toilet paper in the dust bin in the bathroom. Most toilets I have seen flush toilet paper without problems, but be aware of this issue, in order to avoid clogging your host's toilet.
Public toilets are dirty and have no toilet paper. But malls, museums, or any "café literario" (not many) usually have free, clean toilets.
Santiago: For metro and buses buy a BIP card at any metro station (It costs $1,300 pesos.) and charge it with money at any metro station (box office or machines). Each trip costs about 600-700 pesos. The price depends on the time and you can combine bus with bus or metro with bus, or metro with metro (without leaving the metro station), see here.
There aren't many trains, but there are many long distance coaches. There are several terminals. I've always been to the Terminal de Buses Santiago (metro Universidad de Santiago).
When taking a taxi or colectivo, try to find out the approxiamate price beforehand. Do not arrive in Chile at the airport completely clueless as to how much the Chilean peso is worth. Don't trust people too much.
There is a monkey sanctuary 40 km from Santiago. It's not open to the public, but you might be able to arrange a visit (you can email in English). The owners aren't vegan, and (my main issue) they breed insects to feed to the monkeys. And you will probably be expected to make a donation if you visit. They also hold special events.