Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Vegetarian in Niue

Sometimes it is hard to be a Vegetarian when traveling in the Pacific: the island diet is very much based on fish, and meat. When we went to Rarotonga we rented a guesthouse with a kitchen, and that was a great idea: we could take our dry food, and buy fresh produce there. So we did the same in Niue, since there aren't many restaurants there, and the veggie options are limited. To eat out go to the Crazy Uga cafe in Alofi (the only one) open Mon-Sat, for breakfast and lunch, no many options for Vegans (unless you stick to baked beans only) but they can make coffee with soy milk :-). The Alofi Swan Son supermarket is expensive but stocks pasta, rice, canned Italian beans and tomato sauces, and even tofu (when we were there). On Sunday go to the Washaway cafe in Avatele for lunch (since it is only open on a Sunday), everybody seems to meet there, the menu is not veggie friendly, but they made some vegetarian focaccia for us, on request. There is also a tiny Indian restaurant in Alofi, Gill's, and they have a few vegan and vegetarian dishes, eat in or take-away. Finally the Matavai in Avatele, the only resort in the Island, has a formal restaurant with a veggie option each for starters and for mains.

To stock up with fresh produce I advice that you book a plantation tour with Tony Aholina, A5 Tours, Mutalau Village, Tel 683 3343, not only you will learn much about plant food in Niue, Tony will also give you some food from his plantation: taro, cassava, banana, papaya, coconuts, greens and more.

One of the things I liked most was to see, for the first time, vanilla plants. Niue vanilla is lovely, the orchids grow around trees and the fresh vanilla pods look like green beans. Tony cars was full of vanilla sticks, he and the other islanders have so many that they also use them as air fresheners for the car and the house.

Taro is the Island staple, usually baked or boiled, it is quite starchy and very filling. Being Italian I always travel with a small bottle of olive oil, so after boiling my taro I dressed it with olive oil, salt flakes and chopped spring onions. At home in New Zealand I have some giant taro in my garden, I was always told that it is not so tasty, only decorative, but Tony told me that I could eat it, and maybe I will try :-).

Tony also gave us some greens, a sort of big brassica leaves which I boiled and then dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt. I am sure that soy sauce would have been good too, but I didn't have any. And the cassava roots, another starchy food, baked they were lovely, there are the white and the yellow type, we tried the yellow and they tasted a bit like sweet potatoes. We also learned to pick and cook breadfruit (breadfruit trees are everywhere in the Island), you can find a recipe here, and for coconut .... well, you can eat coconut in 1000 different ways, click here for some examples.

You can also buy fresh produce in the Farmers Market in Alofi, every Tuesday and Friday morning, but remember that this market is very small so you need to get there at 6:30-7am to get the best produce. You can also buy some warm coconut and arrowroot porridge, a good Vegan breakfast. In the market you can also find eggs, fried bread, cakes and a few souvenirs.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


  1. That's soooo amazing that you went to Rarotonga. It's nice to see what's there, and how it can be difficult to consume as a vegan in the Pacific. Keep writing and photographing. I really want to visit New Zealand there someday, it will be next on my list. :) I've added you on my Yummy Bloggers list!

    xxx from Vienna

  2. Hi visiting from Foodblogs.
    What an adventure. Great post.
    I am now fololowing you . Hope you will visit my vegetarian blog and follow me back

  3. Tours like that sound like so much fun! I don't think I've tried much breadfruit...hmm I'm going to ask hubby if he remembers eating it.

  4. Beautiful beautiful images...what fun! My daughter is vegetarian and I am almost there.
    I remember my visit to Rarotonga...such a pretty place.
    Hugs. xoxo

  5. @ Rika and Koralee, the images are from Niue, not Rarotonga, although there are some similarities, like being an island nation, small and tropical
    :-). and Niue is not touristic.

    RIka a Judee, thank you for your support, I will visit your veg blog now :-)!


  6. lol Ferdinando, ti ho appena lasciato tre comments di fila...

  7. Alessandra, I have been looking at the older posts, Niue looks amazing, you make me feel like going!

  8. Jo, I really recommend it :-). In fact I would go back now!

  9. Bellissimo questo reportage fotografico che ci fa scoprire un mondo di frutti esotici meravigliosi ;)

  10. Si', frutta e verdura esotica! Strano perche' di solito non si parla di verdura esotica :-).

    1. Ciao Alessandra.
      Complimenti per il tuo blog e per le tue esperienze di viaggio. Io ho abitato a Niue per otto anni e quello che racconti mi ha fatto ricordare tante cose. Avevo un piccolo caffè in Alofi, quello che poi è diventato ristorante indiano ed ora è invece un "sushi bar" ed ho ancora tanti amici là.
      Seguirò con piacere il tuo blog, ciao!

  11. Meraviglioso! La guesthouse che avete affittato ara cara? Se ti è possibile, mi mandi il link? Io sono stata due volte in Polinesia francese e anch'io avevo il problema del cibo visto che è quasi tutto a base di pesce e carne anche là. Me la sono cavata con frutta e verdura....
    Bellissime foto!! :-D

  12. Bellissimo articolo, io sono un vegano e mi sono trovato nei pressi di un ristorante indiano vicino Torino ( dove ho potuto gustare il cocco con curry, lo zenzero e cardamomo nel riso biryani. E stata una bellissima esperienza.

  13. I had giant taro in my garden in Auckland and had a terrible reaction when I tried eating it. All my throat swelled up and I thought I was dying. I'd advise leaving it alone.

  14. I had giant taro in my garden in Auckland and had a terrible reaction when I tried eating it. All my throat swelled up and I thought I was dying. I'd advise leaving it alone.


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