For those who follow plant-based or gluten-free diets, “One Happy Island” just got a whole lot happier. While vegan/GF options were once scarce on Aruba, creative veg-friendly menus are now popping up left, right, and center. An exciting new spot is One Happy Bowl, which opened in November 2018. I had the pleasure of popping by with a fellow animal-welfare advocate, who is best known as Vegan Aruba.
Flamingo Pancakes? Yes Please!
As I walked in for the first time, I was instantly delighted by the funky modern decor and flamingo paraphernalia. This cute cafe specializes in breakfast until 11AM and build your own poke bowls until 5PM. For those looking for something savoury for lunch, the happy bowl option comes with so many possibilities of combinations. Here, you choose a base such as rice or quinoa, followed by one protein like tofu feta or spicy tempeh. Then, you pick four toppings from a long list of interesting choices such as watermelon tuna or mango. Finally, you choose your sauce and “final touch” to really personalize your dish.
I wanted to try their claim-to-fame signature dish, the flamingo pancakes. Why? Well, first of all, because of the name, obviously. Second, because they are bright pink! Where else have you seen that? The verdict? They are delicious and full of healthy ingredients such as coconut and chia seeds. These sweet pancakes are served with star-shaped banana slices, kiwi, and other tropical delights. After posting an obligatory photo of this beautiful dish to your Instagram, this colourful breakfast is best enjoyed with an oat milk cappuccino before a long day of exploring the island.
Note: I have been told that the look of the pancakes has changed since my visit, but that the taste is the same!
On Aruba, environmental protection and the promotion of local culture are two very important initiatives. In terms of sustainability and community enhancement, One Happy Bowl is doing things right. First of all, serving plant-based foods eliminates all sorts of waste and diminishes environmental harm in many ways. This cafe has also committed to avoiding plastic, opting for compostable disposables and organizing volunteer-run beach cleanups. Another thing I love is that this cafe is very affordable which is crucial for locals and travellers wishing to eat healthy on a budget. All the pretty artwork and souvenirs sold in-house are made locally. Last but not least, every month, they host a One Healthy You event where light snacks are served, followed by a yoga class and a hearty lunch.
The Location: Renaissance Marketplace
If you’re in downtown Oranjestad, there is much to see, but inevitably you will need a spot to rest after walking around in the tropical heat. One Happy Bowl is the ideal place to sit down, grab a bite, and recharge. Also located in and around the Renaissance Marketplace are the best mojitos in town at Cuba’s Cookin’, and the Renaissance Marina for life-changing trips out to sea. On this front, I recommend booking a snorkel trip with The Tranquilo where captain Anthony cooks up a mean vegan jackfruit burrito.
I am always happy to return to the relaxing white-sand paradise that is Aruba. About one year ago I wrote about Aruba’s newfound vegan revolution. Today, thanks to the hard work of dedicated activists, restaurant owners and local chefs, the revolution has continued to expand. One Happy Bowl is a welcome addition to this growing initiative and inspiring community.
For more information about what to do while visiting Aruba see the Nights Publications website or free magazines on island.
For more epic adventures on Aruba, see my latest article for A Taste for Travel.
Visit Vegan Aruba for more tips on where to eat around the island.